Few women were in charge of IPOs in the early years of Nasdaq. In fact, women were hardly present at all in the industry. However, this began to shift in the late 1990s when a new generation of female entrepreneurs started to emerge.
Since its founding in 1817, the New York Stock Exchange has seen thousands of companies go public. But here's the startling figure: Only 22 IPOs of businesses created and headed by women have ever taken place in the history of the US public markets. This figure is terrible beyond belief, but it also highlights the ecosystem's unfairness, where women have historically been at a disadvantage due only to the fact that they are women!
Even 200 years later, less than 13% of all VC decision-makers are women, and less than 3% of all VC funding goes to businesses with female-only leadership. This is accurate for the US, but the figures for the rest of the globe are much worse. In the past, women had to battle for rights to employment, voting, education, and practically ALL BASIC human rights. - so these figures shouldn't come as a surprise, but considering that it's 21st century, it makes you wonder how much progress our civilization has actually achieved.
With 442 IPOs registered as of December 14 in the US, 2020 set a record for IPOs. According to analysis by Business Insider and data from Nasdaq, only five of those were companies created and run by women in 2020.
In the hopes that one day, this list will be too long to fit on a single page, and there will be thousands of successful female entrepreneurs and investors, here are a few women among the 22 stalwarts, founders, and CEOs who led Nasdaq IPOs.
Whitney Wolfe Herd, CEO, Bumble
Entrepreneur Whitney Wolfe Herd is the creator and CEO of the 2014-launched, publicly traded Bumble, an online dating service. She was once Tinder's co-founder and vice president of marketing. Wolfe Herd was included on the Time 100 List in 2018, as well as the Forbes 30 Under 30 lists for 2017 and 2018.
When Wolfe Herd took Bumble public in February 2021, she broke the record for the youngest female self-made millionaire in the world. At the age of 31, she is the youngest woman to have taken a firm public.
In 2020, Bumble took over as the parent company of both Bumble and Badoo, replacing MagicLab. Globally, there are more over 100 million Bumble users as of 2020.
Bumble reached a valuation of $13 billion in February 2021 after listing shares on the Nasdaq market. She was carrying her 18-month-old son when she rang the Nasdaq bell.
After taking Bumble public in 2021, Wolfe Herd became the youngest self-made female millionaire in the world. Her estimated net worth according to Forbes is $1.5 billion.
Leen Kawas, Managing General Partner, Propel Bio Partners
Dr. Kawas is now Propel Bio Partners' Managing General Partner. She co-founded Athira, co-invented its lead therapeutic candidate, ATH-1017, and several other cutting-edge medicinal prospects in the company's pipeline.
From January 2014 to December 2021, Dr. Kawas served as president and CEO of Athira as well as a member of its board of directors. She oversaw the scientific and monetary development of Athira in this capacity, generating almost $400 million and guiding the business through its first public offering. Dr. Kawas was the first woman to lead a firm to an IPO in Washington State in more than 20 years (at the time of Athira's IPO in September 2020), according to Business Insider and GeekWire. As of February 2021, there were only 22 female founders and CEOs who had led their companies to an IPO.
Roni Mamluk, President & CEO, Ayala Pharmaceuticals Inc
With 20 years of expertise in drug development firms and a background in all facets of R&D, general administration, and fundraising, Roni Mamluk, PhD, is a senior biopharmaceutical executive. Roni held a variety of positions, including CEO, at Chiasma, a biopharmaceutical business that specialised in orphan illnesses, before joining Ayala (2013-2015). She co-invented the company's oral delivery system and oversaw the main product's development from conception to NDA filing. She played a significant role in the company's fundraising efforts, leading numerous rounds of private financing as well as a $70 million crossover financing and a successful IPO of over $100 million in 2015.
Amaryt Pharma (NASDAQ: AMYT), which purchased Chiasma, has Roni on its board of directors. She headed preclinical development of an oncology treatment at Adnexus, a Waltham, Massachusetts-based company that was later bought by Bristol-Myers Squibb (NYSE:BMY). Prior to that, she completed a postdoctoral fellowship in the field of angiogenesis at Children's Hospital/Harvard Medical School. The Hebrew University in Jerusalem awarded Roni a PhD, summa cum laude.
Dr Maria L. MacCecchini, Founder, President & CEO, Annovis
In June 2022, Dr. Maccecchini won a seat on Lantern's board of directors. She is the company's founder, president, chief executive officer, and executive board member. In order to create new treatments for Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, and other neurological disorders, Dr. Maccecchini launched Annovis in May 2008. She served as a partner and director for two angel organisations, MidAtlantic Angel Group and Robin Hood Ventures. She was also the Head of Molecular Biology at Mallinckrodt, the General Manager of Bachem Bioscience, the US subsidiary of Bachem AG, Switzerland, and the Founder and CEO of Symphony Pharmaceuticals/Annovis, a biotech business that was acquired by Transgenomic in 2001.
Dr. Maccecchini received her PhD in biochemistry from the Biocenter of Basel and completed two postdoctoral fellowships, one at The Roche Institute of Immunology and one at Caltech. She also held a two-year visiting position at The Rockefeller University.
Emily Leproust, CEO & Founder, Twist Bioscience
Emily Leproust is a scientist and businesswoman from the United States. She is the CEO and co-founder of the publicly traded company Twist Bioscience, which specialises in DNA synthesis. The business uses synthetic biology and offers technologies for making insulin from yeast, treating malaria, mass-producing spider silk, and storing data on DNA. In 2020, she received the BIO Rosalind Franklin Award.
In 1995, Leproust received his M.Sc. in Industrial Chemistry from the Lyon School of Industrial Chemistry, and in 2001, he received his Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry and Nucleic Acids Chemistry from the University of Houston.
Before founding Twist Bioscience, she was Director of Applications and Chemistry R&D—Genomics at the business Agilent. Leproust took part in a tabletop exercise depicting a weaponized monkeypox outbreak at the Munich Security Conference in March 2021.
Julia Hartz, Co-Founder & CEO, Eventbrite
American businesswoman Julia Hartz is the co-founder and CEO of Eventbrite, a global platform for event technology and ticketing. She is also an investor. She is renowned for encouraging women in the IT sector and leading Eventbrite during the COVID-19 pandemic. Hartz was chosen as one of Fortune magazine's top female business leaders.
After her spouse (and co-founder) left his position in April 2016, Hartz was named CEO and joined the Eventbrite Board of Directors. In September 2018, Hartz brought the business public, making her one of the few women to oversee the profitable IPO of a technology startup.