Former Salesforce executive Linda Crawford thought her 20-plus-year career in Silicon Valley was over.
But with reports about gender bias plaguing the industry, Crawford decided she wasn't doing enough to advance the representation of women in tech.
Crawford announced Thursday she's coming out of retirement to become CEO of Helpshift, a technology company that helps companies manage customer support better. Her return is especially notable in that many of Helpshift's most successful clients are in gaming, an industry that's notoriously difficult for women. In 2014, the "Gamergate" controversy involved cyberattacks against female game developers.
Crawford herself is no stranger to sexual harassment in the technology industry, having been groped by a customer in front of a colleague who said nothing. She spent nine years at Salesforce and was most recently an executive at Optimizely, before leaving in February.
Gender bias remains a troubling issue in tech, whether at companies like Uber and Google or at prominent venture capital firms. As she was considering whether to come out of retirement, Crawford talked to more than 80 people in the industry, and she said only seven were women.
She realized that change needed to come from the top.