The original digital native
There’s a meme that goes round facebook that says:
‘To my children: Never make fun of helping me with computer stuff.
I taught you how to use a spoon.”
Ruby hates that tired old trope, mums and grandmas are far more tech-savvy than society gives us credit for.
And she would know, she was taught to use a spoon while her mother learned to use a computer. And it wasn’t like today. Her mum had to practically build it herself and there was no such thing as software.
A few years later, on top of being a mother to four kids, Ruby’s mum trained government employees how to implement financial software when it eventually did arrive.
So it can come as no surprise that Ruby grew up to co-found Spike in 1994, one of Australia’s first internet companies – whose first contract was to build Toyota’s very first website. Spike grew quickly on the back of the Internet boom, eventually raising $35.7 million in a public share offer and listing on the stock market in 1999.
But like many female founders of the time, she was never seen as any more than a valuable employee. She was never part of equity discussions. She never profited from the dot-com boom.
What distracted her? Well, nothing. She went on to found other companies, and to empower countless other businesses with the internet’s unlimited possibilities. Constantly building, adapating, learning and teaching. Too busy for a public profile, always at the boundaries seeing what was coming next.
Ruby’s now a grandmother to two toddlers. She has four children aged 40, 30, 21 and 18 from three different chapters of her life.
It’s a book with many chapters. One that includes publishing two children’s novels.
But for the last ten years she’s chosen to be almost completely invisible. She taped up her screen cam years ago. Not for security issues. But to avoid judgement.
It’s incredible that a woman who has continually worked and pioneered from the dawn of the web through to the dawn of AI, has to disappear to even have a chance of being heard.
“I’m rarely heard, especially on things I’ve seen before, felt before and fixed before. I love the new, younger guard, but they really do think they own this brave new world. I have to sit back and watch them make the same mistakes we made back in the day, the new gen made in the early 2000s and so on. The time and money wasted is heartbreaking.”
Now Ruby’s ripped off the sticky tape and is ready to be uninvisible and lead again. The world is about to change radically through AI and machine learning and robotics and all the stuff she’s been walking alongside since she was a kid. She’s ready to stand up and bring a much needed voice to a brave new world. A world we all share.
She wants to encourage a whole generation of older women to join the startup culture. A culture that has become a bit of a bromance with hype, and has forgotten a lot of its heart. Women – older, younger, disabled, trans – can balance that. And they don’t have to be technical experts, just have to understand what tech can do and dream up unique applications for all these amazing advancements.
She wants women who are still up for a challenge to train again, and be inspired again to create a valuable talent pool. She wants young entrepreneurs to recognise that having some wisdom, experience and broad organisational skills are only the tip of the iceberg of the value and profit mature women of experience can bring to young companies.
But most of all she wants us all to work together to create stuff.
Stuff that will change the world.
She knows how to do it.
She’s done it before.
And she’s doing it all again. Ruby recently launched Famlio a platform for modern day families. Who better to create something like this – the world’s most tech-savvy granny.