First women to lead VC backed startup into IPO: Therese Tucker, founder and CEO of BlackLine

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Recent appointment of Jess Lee as the first female investment partner at Sequoia Capital was something the venture capital industry had been long crawling towards. Such great things don't happen often, so after a week-long celebration, everybody got ready for another round of work to help women step up and stand out. 
However, stars must have aligned in women's favor this October, and the industry can now also cherish Therese Tucker, the first woman to lead venture capital funded company into IPO.

It's fair to say that she just broke a glass ceiling, having filed IPO papers to Nasdaq last Friday for her accounting software firm BlackLine. Though the initial target IPO price range was $13-$15, the papers have an increased price of $17.

This is an epic success for Tucker, who founded BlackLine about 15 years ago and struggled mightily in its early years. She thought she would wind up bankrupt, she told Business Insider.

"I funded the company up until 2013, and there were some very difficult times," she said. "I ended up putting in everything that I had into it. First the nest egg from my options from my previous company. But then I drained my bank accounts and my 401(k). I told my kids, had I been able to access their college savings funds, I probably would have taken that, too. I second-mortgaged my house. I maxed out my credit cards. I begged from friends to cover payroll. It was difficult and humiliating and scary. I thought, 'Oh my god, I'm going to be a woman in my 40s who's bankrupt and starting over,'" she said of the years through about 2005."

The turning point happened in 2007, when the idea of cloud computing was very new. She and her team decided to quit making old-fashioned software and sell the service exclusively through the cloud. By 2015, BlackLine's annual revenue was $83.6 million, with a net loss of $10.8 million. In the first six months of 2016, revenue was $55.6 million, with losses growing to $16.9 million.

Tucker still owns about 13% of the company — or 6,372,000 shares that, at $23, are worth $146.6 million.

 

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