Secretary of State Mike Pompeo dined with 15 tech executives earlier this month in Silicon Valley, including Oracle chairman Larry Ellison, venture capitalist Marc Andreessen, Silicon Valley Bank CEO Gregory Becker, and Nextdoor CEO Sarah Friar, Bloomberg News reported, citing unnamed sources.
In an exclusive interview with Yahoo Finance on Wednesday, Friar confirmed her attendance. While she wouldn’t share the content of the discussion, she noted, “I think it’s important for us to be there and have that seat at the table. I think it’s incredibly important for there to be diverse perspectives.”
Friar served as Square’s (SQ) chief financial officer for six and a half years before becoming chief executive at the neighborhood-based social network. She also had stints at McKinsey, Goldman Sachs, and Salesforce.
“The lack of female diversity at the table is something I’ve experienced a lot during my career, and something I really want to help fight against today. There’s no way we can all build products, speak to broad communities, unless they’re being built by people who represent those broad communities. So it was definitely great to be at that table, having those types of discussions, but unfortunately topics cannot be shared,” she said.
With a mere 3% of venture capital going to companies founded only by women, the funding gap continues to work against female founders. In many ways, Nextdoor stands out as an anomaly in the San Francisco landscape — its latest $170 million round of funding brings the company’s valuation to $2.1 billion. If anything, female-led companies in New York City — outside of the traditional tech world — have been more successful at raising venture dollars. Beauty brand Glossier, clothing rental service Rent the Runway, and luggage startup Away are all unicorns founded by women, surpassing the $1 billion valuation milestone.
As for what Friar discussed with a key member of the Trump administration, she gave her pitch for a less hostile (and hated) social media.
“I can tell you in Nextdoor’s case, we’re all about how to make kindness cool again, and in making kindness cool again bringing communities back together. And there is not a person on the planet that doesn’t want that to happen.”
Melody Hahm is Yahoo Finance’s west coast correspondent, covering entrepreneurship, technology and culture. Follow her on Twitter @melodyhahm.