Ann Lai’s Departure from Bullpen Capital Sheds Light on Gender Inequality in Venture Capital

Ann Lai recently announced her departure from being a General Partner at Bullpen Capital in a post shared on LinkedIn.

By AHN Editor

May 2, 2023

Ann joined Bullpen Capital as an advisor for Fund IV, became a GP for Fund V, and was declared a full equal GP for Fund VI worth $145M, which she also helped to raise. However, her tenure was cut short when she was unexpectedly forced to separate from the company on her last day, following the closure of their latest fund.

Ann expressed that despite being declared an equal partner, the partnership was “all-white, all-male,” and being “equal” was not truly equal. She used words like “discriminatory” and “retaliatory” to describe the events that led to her separation, and while she cannot share the details publicly due to legal advice, she felt it was important to use her voice and share her story.

She wrote a message in her post directed to the LPs: “This was not my choice. I was committed to delivering what we had marketed & promised for Fund VI. I would never quit so abruptly & irresponsibly.”

And to the founders: “I fought to keep my involvement. I really tried, but the Bullpen partners rejected such an option. Even though I’m no longer your investor/board member, I’ll always have your back. Anything you need. I want you all to have the best chances of being successful— I’m most sorry about any impact this may have.”

Ann shared as a parting thought, the pressures that women face to do “all the things” for the thought of protecting themselves. She highlighted the work she did at Bullpen Capital, which included building and driving the data-informed diligence process for all inbound deals, leading to increased diversity in Bullpen-backed founders. She also ran Bullpen’s firm-wide downstream fundraising process and spearheaded their rebranding efforts. She did all this, went above and beyond, thinking that she would be safe then. “But, in the end, the work apparently doesn’t matter,” she said.

Despite feeling hurt and fooled by her separation, Ann expressed that she has no regrets about her time at Bullpen Capital. She was able to support many underrepresented founders, and the success of any of these companies changed the industry a little. She ended her post by saying that she is not going away and will have more to share soon.

Featured Image Source: ELLE