You brought TV to the Internet, founded and grew the tech company Zattoo as a digital pioneer, and won the prestigious Tech Emmy in the USA: How did you finance all that?
In 2005, I invested the first 300,000 Swiss francs privately and got quite far with it. After that, I had anchor investors. When they left, it was terrible. Since then, I've tried to keep it at a manageable level. I would rather grow less aggressively but sustainably. Self-financed if necessary.
How much money did you raise?
I raised a total of $30 million. And this as Beat. Now I'm investing as Bea.
You founded Zattoo as Beat, now you run it as Bea. Are you perceived differently as an entrepreneur?
Oh yes. From the craftsman to the board of directors. Men suddenly attributed much less competence to me. From one day to the next. I'm the walking A/B test, so to speak. I personally went through that, and as a woman, I had to earn my professional credibility and respect all over again. As if you would swap your brain via gender surgery.
What do women pay for a career?
A lot. Not just in terms of money, but most importantly in terms of time. In order to become an expert in her area, she needs to put in 10,000 hours of practice. That’s about five years. On the way to these 10,000 hours, women are constantly interrupted, become mothers, take care of their families, their parents. Especially in computer science, knowledge has a short half-life. A woman often needs seven years for these 10,000 hours. Women are punished for these interruptions and have to constantly reorient themselves.
Is this the reason why there are so few women working in the tech industry?
Yes, we are experiencing a tsunami of new technologies. Tools and trends are fast-moving. That is terrible for the careers of women. And at the same time, the business world completely undervalues the skills that experienced women and mothers bring to the table. When dealing with children, you learn so much.
You're not only an entrepreneur, but also an investor, taking stakes in tech companies. How is it going?
Yes, I'm developing my own venture capital fund and professionalizing my investments. I currently have 15 investments. These include four of my own companies and eleven third-party investments. Unfortunately, I had to write off the three investments in the US completely. However, the eight investments made in Switzerland are successful.
Do you invest more in women or men?
So far, more in men. But I have recently started to pay more attention and invest in women as well. For example, I invested in Gryps because women build it. It’s an offer portal. It was recently sold to Ringier Axel Springer.
Are male and female entrepreneurs different?
Women are more risk-aware. Lehman Sisters would not have happened. If I had a large hoard of gold to manage, I would entrust it to a woman.
Do you know wage inequality?
I'm speaking in stereotypes now, so take this with a grain of salt: Many of my colleagues negotiate their salaries far more vigorously than I do. I look for the company first, then for myself. I want to bring in business and money before I ask for more money myself. Maybe women are more likely to think this way? We do not rely our self-worth exclusively on our employment and earnings. Men define themselves more singularly by their careers. They lose everything when they lose a job: the company car, the exclusive invitations, the office help. For men, that is catastrophic.
What is your career advise to women?
You have to practice small steps in order to tackle greater ones with courage.
How much does it cost to become a woman on the outside as well?
It is both costly and painful. Only a few millimeters on your face determine whether you are perceived as male or female. The jaw and forehead bone structure. In addition to the operations on the body and face, there are hormone therapies and voice training. Overall, gender transition costs roughly 100,000 Swiss francs. The most expensive, however, are the social and renunciation expenses. The surgery costs are nothing compared to that.
How do you mean that exactly?
Gender transition often requires unpaid absences from work and inhibits careers. We apparently first have to prove to society that we, too, can deliver professionally and pay taxes.
What could we as a society learn from your story?
It would help trans people a lot if they were allowed to do the transition early. The gender proofing currently is inhumane. All this bureaucratic harassment. The hurdles are high. You have to prove it to the health insurance companies at great expense. If a child feels insistently, persistently and consistently belonging to the opposite sex, then the step should be taken as early as possible.
You waited till you were 44 to take the step?
Yes, and I would have liked to have done it earlier. I am happy to have broken out. Men are doomed to extreme conformity.
Do you talk about money with women?
Well, I can see a difference. With women, I talk a lot about entrepreneurship and starting a business, but less about money. Investing is not a topic there. In contrast, I speak with 80 percent of the guys exactly about this.
Who talked to you about money at home?
My parents were very modest. They were transport entrepreneurs, earning their money with trucks. They split every centime. We never went on big vacations. Maybe once on a bus, but then my parents organized the trip, my father drove, and we collected the money. Vacations were usually linked to work.
Did you receive pocket money?
No, never. Money came from work. I used to shine my brother's shoes and sweep the stairs. Money came with duties, and I was compensated through my work.
What was the guiding principle, and what do you recall?
Serve first, then earn.
How much money do you make?
20 years ago, my goal was to have more than 10 million francs. That is something I have accomplished. It is critical to recognize your accomplishments and not constantly raising the bar. You have every right to be happy if you have achieved your goal and, if necessary, went above and beyond.
What role does money play in relationships?
As a young person, money should not be something that brings two people together or separates them. After all, you're still young, you have time, and it doesn't matter. However, as you get older, it becomes more important. By the age of 50, you should have figured out your money situation and have enough of it. Money is also part of relationship hygiene. Money is then a proxy for whether someone can handle life or not.