Venture capitalists are all about the money. I say this in a good way: they do the math. So when the founder of the boston venture capital firm OpenView Scott Maxwell lays his bets on a working mother — a story reported by Dylan Martin of BostInno —  I pay attention.

Boston VC Scott Maxwell is known for the Maxwell Curve. It depicts how how Scrum team productivity actually decreases as teams work longer hours in a given week. Clearly, Maxwell is a guy who obsesses about the relationship between productivity and profitability. It makes total sense when you examine his actions supporting a woman partner at his firm.

The Maxwell Curve

Graphic by Jeff Sutherland

OpenView Partner Devon McDonald sits on the Investment Committee that decides what B2B software companies to invest in, explains BostInno. She earned that right after serving as the firm’s director of growth for five years.

Here’s where it gets interesting . . .

Right smack dab in the middle Devon’s second maternity — about the time many working mothers at the partner level feel unrelenting pressure to cut their family leave short — founder Scott Maxwell advised her to stay the course. He pointed out that she had an opportunity to “be the example” for the other women in her wake. Devon McDonald remembers him saying:

You have to be the example and show that family comes first . . . so that future women who have babies here don’t feel the pressure that they can completely kill themselves, particularly when they’re adjusting to this major life change.”

I’ve never met Scott.  After this, I’d enjoy having a conversation about his decision to invest in Devon in this way. The Maxwell Curve tells me he is not simply doing it to be a nice guy. He’s doing it because he believes he’ll enjoy a significant return on his investment.

ROI in the venture capital world is not your average ROI.  The yield is massive. It involves a lot of zeros. In fact, when unicorn investments pay off, they return so much ROI it is redundant. It gives select VCs entrée into 3 comma club — a club described in the hit HBO series Silicon Valley by a fictional VC investor Russ Hanneman who learned he is no longer a member.

So how might an investment in a working mother yield billions in ROI, one might ask? Any VC partner who is adept at choosing the right portfolio company could total do that. Devon could totally do that.  If I had to guess, she would not obsess quite so much about the car.

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