A male-run property subletting startup out of New York has announced one of the most bizarre pivots in history and has relaunched as a New York “girl’s only club” that will help women in Manhatten “thrive”.
Lead Image: Kiki co-founder Toby Thomas-Smith and female employee Caitlin Emiko
The problem? Kiki is run by five men. The management only realised the opportunity presented by the female market after hiring its first female employee – 25-year-old Caitlin Emiko.
“We’re not doing subletting any more,” co-founder Toby Thomas-Smith said on Instagram this week.
“Ever since Caitlin joined the team, she’s really enlightened me to this problem I never even knew existed where so many girls in the city have moved here thinking that they’ll live their best possible life, but they’re just living not thriving,” Thomas-Smith posted.
The New York “girl’s only club” will help Manhattan women “thrive” and “not just live”. Kiki was once valued at $42 million.
With the spotlight now on so much investment being given to young male entrepreneurs, it is no wonder the story has caught the eye of New York-based CEO and founder of MakeLoveNotPorn, Cindy Gallop. Gallop is a keen advocate and campaigner of female-led tech companies and regularly speaks out against sexism in the tech industry.
Last year she hit out at disgraced GiveTree founder, Sam Joel after he made a number of highly offensive comments about women in the industry, telling one to “get off your period”.
She posted a link to the story on her LinkedIn page stating “I cannot even begin to articulate how much my response to this is F*CK. THAT. SHIT. Every single line of this is “I can’t even.”
Her followers were quick to agree with her with one saying “let me get this straight. An all-male founding team got gobs of money to run a business (that consistently failed). After FIVE years they hired their first female employee … and discovered that women exist and aren’t thriving in NYC. They decide to pivot to create some kind of business to help “girls” thrive (for which they still have no idea how to make actual revenue). And their investors haven’t yanked funding and run for the hills”?
Previously name EasyRent, Kiki ran a subletting platform in New Zealand, before shutting that down, moving to Sydney, and shutting that down too.
Commentators were particularly incensed that the co-founders of Kiki had asked Emiko to drop her won business to join the team.
“But the one condition was she had to drop the business she’d built with her best friend,” Thomas-Smith said.
Kiki raised $US4.5 million ($7 million) in August last year with Australia’s largest venture fund, Blackbird, taking a 16 per cent stake in the company.
“The only time I want to see a story like this is on April 1st… or in The Onion,” one disillusioned LinkedIn user commented.
“My blood is boiling at this…so many incredible women in the world building magnificent businesses but can’t get funding because of their gender, then clowns like this continue to get backed even though they constantly fail 🤬,” another said.
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