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AOL Launches Women-Focused Start-up Fund

AOL today appointed Susan Lyne to lead The BBG Fund, a new venture fund focused on early stage investments in women-led consumer internet start-ups. The fund will make seed and Series A investments, with a focus on multiplatform media, services and commerce. AOL has a long and successful history of investing in women’s content: MAKERS, Thrive, Global Motherhood and the Cambio/Girls Who Code program all launched within AOL, which is consistently the leader in Comscore’s Lifestyle category. With this new initiative, AOL is investing in women as builders, part of a broader initiative to bring more women and girls into tech. Lyne, who was previously Executive Vice President and Chief Executive Officer of AOL’s Brand Group, will continue to be based at the company’s headquarters in New York City and will report to AOL Chairman & CEO, Tim Armstrong.

"As head of AOL Brands, I had the opportunity to contribute to the growth and profitability of our portfolio of premium brands,” said Lyne, President of The BBG Fund. “In my new role, I am looking forward to contributing in a different way. We have a huge megaphone at AOL so we can have an outsized impact on the way girls and women perceive their options, and on the breadth of entrepreneurial ideas that have a chance to compete. But this is also good business: women are the majority of users on the fastest-growing sites and services on the internet. We believe we can get strong returns by focusing on entrepreneurs who know the customer best.”

The challenges facing women in technology are real. Only 7% of venture funding goes to women entrepreneurs 1, in part because only 4% of the partners at venture firms are women. 2. 75% of consumer internet startups have zero women on the founding team; at enterprise software and hardware startups that number climbs to over 80%. 3 And while the fraction of female CS graduates increased in 2013 to 14%, it is still significantly below 1984 levels. 4 Organizations like Girls Who Code and Made With Code are leading a growing movement to change the gender equation, and AOL is committed to doing its part. The BBG Fund is part of a broader initiative that Lyne will introduce at Ad Week next month. Stay tuned for #BUILTBYGIRLS.

"Susan has done an excellent job in her time at AOL at a board and operating level, and we are excited to be putting her vast skills and expertise to work to replicate this success at The BBG Fund," said Tim Armstrong, Chairman & CEO of AOL. "AOL has a strong track record of investing in women, women's leadership, and we are adding to our investments in the most important space for women entrepreneurs. "

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