January has been a time for reflecting on the past year as well as a chance for leaders to announce how they picture the new year shaping up in Silicon Valley. Figures released by PitchBook cast light on the amount of VC investment being contributed to female-led startups, which were disappointing in some areas but showed promise in others. Going forward, there is a particular interest in improving security testing and exploring how tech companies can take a proactive approach to forecast how their products could be misused.

Female-founded startups

Investment in female-founded startups has remained at 2.2% of all venture capital investment in 2018 according to figures released by PitchBook. Over the past year companies founded by women raised $2.88 billion which was split across 482 different teams. The figures for solo female entrepreneurs and all-female teams are more promising, with startups that fall into that category raising just shy of $1 billion more in investment in 2018 than in the previous year. The number of funding deals completed by female founders is increasing, although the percentage share of investment being received is not growing as the total amount of funding available in venture capital is increasing year-on-year. This news comes as Apple has announced its first boot camp for women entrepreneurs, Entrepreneur Camp. The two-week event is aimed at helping female-led businesses that have an iOS app and will help founders with marketing strategies and improving features. The company announced that it plans to hold the course quarterly, with around ten spots available for each session. Companies participating must employ at least one female developer and be female-founded, co-founded, or female-led.

Going beyond security testing

Tech firms are coming together at the USENIX Enigma security conference this week where former Federal Trade Commission chief technologist, Ashkan Soltani, will be giving a talk on the steps companies should be taking to secure their products. Soltani says the standard excuse of ‘we didn’t expect our technology to be used this way’ does not stand up anymore. He will be encouraging companies to invest in thinking about how things can go wrong and what kind of harm could be created using their platforms. Whilst things have moved on from the mid-2000s when firms started to take the threat of hackers seriously and some firms now offer so-called ‘bug bounty’ to people who warn them about an unknown security flaw, further steps need to be taken going forward. Soltani doesn’t think the responsibility lies solely with legislators or regulators, saying that formal regulation will not stop abusability. He sees far greater investment being made into preventative security measures going forward.