Club manager, which is for members only, comes to San Francisco with the help of Google

Chief co-founders Carolyn Childers and Lindsay Kaplan

Pictures lent by the boss

As companies see a record number of women leaving their jobs in “the Great Resignation”, Google’s parent company Alphabet is putting money behind an initiative that could help them stay.

Launched in 2019, Chief is a membership-based company for female leaders designed to provide meetings with curated peer groups, mentorships, and chatting by the fire with people like former First Lady Michelle Obama.

The start-up has physical premises in New York, Los Angeles and Chicago and last month a fresh $ 100 million in cash from Alphabet’s venture arm CapitalG. The money will help the Chief open a clubhouse in San Francisco this summer, which will feature a bar with specialty coffee, an open lounge, meeting rooms, private call boxes and a room for moms.

“Technology is such a male-dominated industry, so I think it’s an amazing ability to leverage something that breaks a little more from that form,” Chief Co-Founder Carolyn Childers told CNBC in an interview. She said San Francisco is the company’s fastest growing city, and “we’ve seen amazing members join from early start-ups to the big tech giants.”

The Covid-19 pandemic strengthened business as women flocked to Chiefs platform, which served as a support system in a time of loneliness. More than 12,000 executives have signed from over 8,500 companies, including HBO, American Express, Nike, Google, Goldman Sachs, NASA and Apple.

Annual membership starts at $ 5,800 for women at the vice presidential level and $ 7,900 C-suite executives. About 70% of members are sponsored by their employers, Childers said. Starting this year, members can pay an additional fee to get an access card to Chiefs clubhouses, where they can host customers, reserve meeting rooms and get in touch with other members.

Chief’s Los Angeles clubhouse bar

Pictures lent by the boss

‘Lonely at the top’

Childers and co-founder Lindsay Kaplan said Chief was born of experience as they both had leadership roles in companies and struggled to find support. This is one of the main reasons why female workers do not stay in the technology industry, studies have shown.

Childers was previously senior vice president at Handy and, where she worked as general manager through the company’s acquisition of Amazon. Kaplan was vice president of communications and brand at Casper and did marketing for various startups.

“We led teams and mentored others, but no longer had the resources for ourselves,” Childers said. “It can get really lonely at the top, especially when you’re literally the only woman in a room full of men.”

Chief expanded nationally at the beginning of the year. There are about 60,000 women on the waiting list, but Childers and Kaplan say they should be able to start researching applicants faster now that the company has more money to hire people and expand the technology.

Chief plans to open a clubhouse in San Francisco. The company has clubs for members only in Chicago, New York and Los Angeles.

Pictures lent by the boss

Laela Sturdy, a partner at CapitalG, said the company has an “incredible business model” but also benefited from the timing given the pandemic’s many stressors.

“I started hearing about Chief because I have a lot of friends who are leading women and leaders in my portfolio who joined Chief, and I was honestly impressed with the brand’s momentum and organic love that chief members showed,” Sturdy said. . “It’s very rare for members and users to talk about a platform that changes their lives.”

Childers says the company is now positioned to gain even more momentum in a post-pandemic world as people yearn for personal events.

“When everything went completely digital, the biggest thing was the democratic access,” Childers said. “You did not have to be in a certain place. For networks and communities, it is a huge benefit to have the opportunity to meet physically and physically. “

In April, the platform featured fireside chats only for members with Arielle Gross Samuels, the global leader of Meta’s environmental, social and corporate governance initiative, and former Netflix CMO Bozoma Saint John. The topics range from inclusion in the workplace to work-life balance.

Childers said it is a particularly diverse community, with 35% of members identifying as BIPOC or black natives and coloreds.

Takes it to companies

Chief raises large amounts of capital from top venture capitalists, which means investors have expectations that the company should scale in a way that can justify a technological valuation. Other backers include General Catalyst and GGV Capital.

Chief says a big way it plans to grow is by going directly to companies. For example, it could potentially adapt features and program based on the needs of their female leaders, whether it means focusing on events or professional growth, Sturdy said.

Chief plans to open a clubhouse in San Francisco. The company has clubs for members only in Chicago, New York and Los Angeles.

Pictures lent by the boss

“We really want to make deep investments in building relationships with these companies so that sponsorship becomes a no-brainer of a company you are employed in,” Childers said. “There are many opportunities to think about where Chief is even outside the United States”

Sturdy has a role to play in the expansion. She’s seen 10 of her investments turn into companies worth $ 1 billion or more in the past year, and she’s spent more than a decade at Google in various leadership roles. She said the Chief can serve as a valuable retention tool as companies consider ways to maintain their best results.

“The exciting thing about this expansion is the vision of going into Google or Nike and saying, ‘Hi, there are already five, 10, 20 of your executives who are Chief Members, and here are all the ways we can expand to serve more of your population, “Sturdy said.

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