Yay! We started off with quite a few haters who spent oodles of time crafting lengthy screeds explaining why I am a complete idiot and detailing how I should be raped and then murdered, invariably with appalling grammar and sentence structure.
Ah, there is nothing quite like the pleasure of hitting “delete” on a 5000 word hate comment. The cyber equivalent of “fuck off”.
Owing to diligent moderation and pretty much zero tolerance for trolls, we now have a core group of readers who are either interested in learning about our ideas, or interested in contributing their own experiences and observations, and I must say, this blog gives me more pleasure than I ever would have anticipated.
So thank you, dear readers. Both Pixie and I are humbled and gratified by your presence, thoughts and support.
Now, having said that, life is about to undergo a very large change that I am just beginning to grasp the ramifications of. My PhD is officially underway, and I have taken the first baby steps towards organizing my lit review, which I expect will take up the better part of the next six months.
A lit review involves reading all of the published research surrounding a particular topic so that A) I understand the topic; and B) I can spot the gaps in both knowledge and theory that need to be filled in.
My topic is Entrepreneurship and Innovation, with a sub-focus that crosses both strategy and finance. In order to earn a doctorate, I am required to conduct research that addresses an actual, real world problem, AND I am required to contribute in some way to the theory that informs my subject matter. Most doctorates go off the rails because they do one thing and not the other, and both requirements must be satisfied in order to be awarded the degree.
I feel confident that I have chosen my topic well, and that I will indeed fulfill both requirements. The real world problem that I am addressing is fairly straightforward: how can investors, especially venture capitalists, accurately value pre-IPO biotechnology companies? Venture capitalists are always looking for opportunities to invest in companies BEFORE they go public or get acquired by a larger organization, because that’s how you reap the big rewards.
But how do they know which companies are the ones that will succeed?
I’m focusing on two variables that affect how companies are valued at the nascent stage: one has to do with whether or not any given company is part of an established cluster. Should companies working outside established clusters automatically disqualify as objects of interest to investors? Minneapolis, for example, has a biotechnology cluster concentrated on cardiovascular technologies and diagnostics. There is no question that working inside a cluster has measurable, quantifiable benefits, but does that mean investors should ignore companies in Wisconsin who are also developing cardiovascular biotechnologies?
Current literature says yes. The risk profile for companies outside clusters is too high.
I’m going to test what impact distance from an established cluster has on biotechnology companies ultimately securing the capital to go public.
That variable contributes to BOTH knowledge and theory, but just to be certain, I’m going one further, and testing out an analytical technique called a proportional hazards regression that uses one variable as a hazard against which all other variables are tested. At the moment, most variables are analyzed using standard logistics regression, but there is a well-known problem with those regressions, which tend to overstate prevalence ratios. That problem disappears when one variable is singled out as a hazard. Of course, the technique will only work when one of the variables CAN be singled out as a hazard, but in entrepreneurship literature it’s common to have an easily identifiable hazard.
I didn’t come up with the technique myself, of course. I have borrowed from the field of epidemiology, which is almost always concerned with some sort of hazard, and thus prefers the proportional hazards regression, also called a Cox regression.
My goal is to have the technique accepted as a standard analytical methodology in business research, too. That’s my real contribution to theory.
It begins with surveying the literature on clusters, the value relevance of non-financial information for pre-IPO companies and the efficacy of the biotechnology sector in attracting venture capital.
Are we all in a coma yet?
The reason I am telling you all this is that my priorities have shifted. Obviously, taking care of my family and home is the first thing on my list, but the blog has now been bumped down to third place after the PhD. What that means, I have yet to fully understand. At the moment, I expect to be able to keep up my posting schedule, but if a few days go by without any new ranting from me, you can safely assume that I have a school related deadline that has occupied my attention.
I’d like to take a few minutes here to tell you the story of how this blog came about.
After Pixie’s son was born with a very serious, life-threatening medical condition five years ago, I took up the habit of writing her regular letters, which kept her company during long hospital vigils, the outcome of which was almost always unknown. I wanted the letters to be a way for her to physically feel how very much I loved her and cared for her and LittleBear and Mr.PPP, and mostly, I wanted to give her something that was light-hearted and uplifting and to offer a respite from the terror of not knowing if her baby was going to survive the latest round of operations.
Pixie and I came to be full time mothers on very different pathways. My choice was deliberate and I never, ever doubted that I would raise my own children with their father in the bonds of marriage. I set up my life to realize that goal, including the eventual transition back to the workforce, which I am now beginning. Pixie had full time motherhood thrust upon her by her son’s medical issues. She gave up a promising career as a visual artist and documentary short film maker (there’s actually lots of money to be made in short films for corporations, schools, organizations, etc) when her son was born. It is pure speculation to think about what she would have done had LittleBear been born perfectly healthy – she may have given up that career anyways, but life offered her no real opportunity to test that commitment.
We both felt the sting of becoming “invisible” and being sneered at by other women for our foolishness in depending upon men and motherhood to validate our lives and provide our incomes. It wasn’t long before our letters evolved from discussions of Jennifer Aniston’s weight to serious critiques of feminism and the expectation that we sacrifice our most cherished desires on the altar of cash flow. And because we both have sons, we took a keen interest in what the future looks like for them.
Over the course of years, we honed our observations and shared our fears and anger with one another, until one day last October, we skyped and Pixie looked as shell-shocked as I have ever seen her.
LittleBear was dying.
Gangrene had set in to an abdominal wound and the medical team had gently suggested that Pixie and her husband prepare for the worst. All they could do was wait. And there is nothing worse than that feeling of utter helplessness, while you cradle your baby and wait.
I desperately wanted to distract Pixie from the waiting.
I know! Let’s write a blog! We’ll call it JudgyBitch!
Sitting beside her son’s bed in the pediatric ICU, Pixie created the website you see and we brainstormed the content. Every day, she sends me articles and suggestions for what to write and even though we don’t agree on everything, we both agree that the perspective JudgyBitch offers is one sorely missing from the cultural conversation.
And one million other people seem to agree.
Pixie may not appear to be hugely involved in the blog, but she very much IS. She is a sounding board, an editor, a confidante, and most importantly, a dearly loved friend whom I respect and admire.
LittleBear survived the gangrene, and is now the picture of blooming health. His condition can still erupt into life-threatening at any moment, and he has many more surgeries and procedures ahead of him, but for the moment, the sun is shining and he is safe.
This has been quite an incredible journey for us, and I am so pleased to have been able to share it with so many other people. So many people on the blog feel like friends. People I have known for such a long time.
Here’s to the future! Dr. JudgyBitch and her five million friends!
Hell. Why stop there?
We want to speak to everyone in the whole world. Even the ones who hate us. Darth Vader turned from the Dark Side eventually, so there’s hope even for feminists, right?
Hope springs eternal. What other choices are there?
Lots of love,