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VC Moritz, unable to find qualified women, finally hires one

Sequoia Capital hires its first US female investing partner, 10 months after chairman Mike Moritz said he was having a hard time finding women who met his standards.

Polyvore co-founder and CEO Jess Lee

Polyvore co-founder and CEO Jess Lee

Steve Jennings/Getty Images

Sequoia Capital found a woman qualified enough to join its masters of the universe club.

The influential Silicon Valley venture capital firm -- which inhales the same rarified atmosphere as Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and Andreesen Horowitz -- hired Polyvore CEO Jess Lee as a partner investing in startups. She is Sequoia's first woman investing partner for US operations; the firm has three female investors in China. Sequoia's investments over its 44 years have included Apple, Dropbox, Google, Instagram and LinkedIn.

Lee, 33, is co-founder and head of fashion shopping site Polyvore, which Yahoo acquired last year for $230 million.

In December, Sequoia Chairman Mike Moritz famously told Bloomberg TV he couldn't find women qualified enough to become a partner.

"We look very hard," he said, when asked about the lack of female partners. "What we're not prepared to do is to lower our standards." He later amended his comments, saying women could actually "flourish in the venture business. We're working hard to find them."

The VC firm had been "aggressively pursuing" her for over a year -- or before Moritz made his comments -- according to a Sequoia spokesman.

In Silicon Valley, successful VCs hold the power and influence that put them at the top of the food chain. But not all VC partners are created equal. Some find executives for their portfolio of companies. Some help startups improve operations. Some find and invest in promising startups. In almost every firm, investing partners are at the top of the food chain. And almost 93 percent of them are men, according to Pitchbook Data, which analyzes the private investment industry.

Lee will become one of Sequoia's youngest investing partners when she starts November 7.