I’m not a technologist, nor a natural activist.
I’m a pretty private person, I love freedom and the meeting of minds. I am excited by collective change, but distrust mass movements for over-simplifying the most important conversations. I don’t want to be stuck in an identity box that can only connect with its own tribe. I am generally skeptical that technology can scale the most important things without trivializing them.
Prior to joining Clue over four years ago, I was a regulatory lawyer in a pretty conservative profession. I sometimes spoke up for the female minority, but weighed my words–it would have been counterproductive to make too many people too uncomfortable. I can safely say I would have preferred root canal surgery to saying “period” at work.
So how did I end up Co-CEO of Clue?
One, it had become clear to me that if people like me stayed out of “tech”, its trajectory would be shaped by others. Specifically, competitive young men–nothing against them, I know several wonderful human beings who fit that description–but, not by women, for women.
It is within my adult life that data-driven consumer tech has gone from its infancy to an ecosystem that includes the mind-blowing power of GenAI. And yet none of my smart, driven female friends had gone into the field that was obviously eating the world. Bro culture can be off-putting, but there seemed to me nothing inherently male about the ambition to create the biggest possible impact, leveraging the most powerful tools at humanity’s disposal. Some female people just needed to start doing it, and seeing how many at Clue had made that choice was incredibly inspiring.
The other reason this job was so compelling was that it forced me to show up for the most difficult conversations: menstruation, sex, gender, abortion. You name it, everyone is going to have a strong reaction (if Clue articles don’t garner a little bit of hate from both extremes of the political spectrum, I feel we probably haven’t been objective enough).
Taking on the Co-CEO role forced me to publicly grapple with female shame. The most powerful way to face this shame seems to me to expose it for what it is: baseless.
If we can bring all our conviction to insist on our full humanity, insist that our bodies are no less clean and our experiences no less true, then there is no space for shame. And the strongest argument against othering and exclusion is to show up together.
I have had the privilege of embarking on this Co-CEO-ship together with Audrey Tsang. We set out together to shape some technology–Audrey brought her deep grounding in computer science and mass consumer tech to the partnership, and I brought my medical tech regulatory and consumer protection perspective. Both of us fundamentally humanists, women with different reproductive and life stories. We took on the leadership of Clue from another woman, Co-Founder Ida Tin, whose conviction and grit created not just this company, but the entire category of “Femtech”.
Together, I think we were smarter, more courageous, more empathetic and more robust than either of us could have been as lone first-time CEOs.
I am proud of what we achieved: we turned a tech startup into a company that builds software to medical device standards, we built a growing business that remains focussed on serving our user community, we raised significant funding in a world where under 2% of venture capital goes to female-led teams, and we led and adapted our team of passionate Cluebies as necessary to navigate the many challenges along the way. It has been an incredible journey, and the pace is only speeding up.
But now, I have decided to step down in order to spend more time with my young family. Picture this: my second daughter was barely two years old when I joined Clue. A toddler with dimples for knuckles. Today she is a school girl, that hand confidently holds a pen, and that mind is stretching out towards the world in ways that I want to witness and support more closely. It is the age-old tension between leaning into professional work and leaning into relational work. If we’re lucky we can have it all, but we can’t have it all, all at once.
I am so grateful for the years I got to dedicate to Clue, the hardest and most important work of my life. And I am grateful to my partner for dedicating so much of his attention to our family during this time, a collaboration in homemaking that many women still cannot rely on.
I am grateful to Audrey, who has taught me so much, who has always had my back, and who I trust like nobody else to lead Clue to future success as Clue’s CEO.
I will always be a huge fan and supporter of everything this company stands for: to give everyone with a cycle the means of taking charge of their reproductive health journey. Free of shame, empowered by their own data and technology.
Thank you, Carrie, for the love and care you put into getting us to this point in Clue’s story–we are in the best position we have ever been in to go even further because of your intelligent and kind leadership.
And thank you for being my co-collaborator throughout. I love that we started this role in our own way, and we’re transitioning to a new role by our design as well. The ability to re-imagine the work of building tech that serves women is what makes Clue, Clue. – Audrey