Photograph of a well-appointed gathering area with chairs, tables, and a bar
Photo: Chief

There’s a new clubhouse for executive women in SF — but don’t compare it to The Wing

Protocol Workplace

Welcome back to our Workplace newsletter. Today, Chief is opening its first clubhouse in San Francisco, but co-founders Carolyn Childers and Lindsay Kaplan want you to know that it’s not a coworking hub. Plus, we spoke with Google walkout organizer Meredith Whittaker on why she left the FTC to serve as president of Signal.

— Allison Levitsky, reporter (email | twitter)

‘This is not a coworking space’

Chief finally has a clubhouse in San Francisco, but don’t call it a coworking space. (And while you’re at it, don’t even try to call Chief members “girl bosses.” The 8,600 square feet do include conference rooms, one-person Zoom rooms, and open-plan seating, but it also has a bar, lounge seating, and — like Chief’s other clubhouses in New York, L.A., and Chicago — a piano.

  • “To me, what the piano represents is ‘This is not a coworking space,’” Chief co-founder Lindsay Kaplan told me on a tour of the clubhouse in advance of its official opening Thursday. “This is a place where you can sit back and take meetings in a very laid-back manner.”
  • Unlike The Wing, the women-focused coworking space and club that shut down this summer after a six-year run, Kaplan and co-founder and CEO Carolyn Childers are still much more interested in building and supporting Chief’s network of female executives than boosting its physical amenities.
  • “Women in tech disproportionately experienced being an ‘only’ in the workplace,” says Alexis Krivkovich, managing partner at McKinsey and co-author a new Women in the Workplace report that looks into why women are leaving their jobs (hint: It's not for more money). Chief sees itself as an answer to trends like this, and 80% of Chief members report that they feel they have more support since joining Chief than they did before, Kaplan said.

That’s why Chief’s main offering — curated, 10-member “Core” peer groups that meet monthly with an executive coach — will still convene virtually.

  • “What we most optimize for is finding the right and perfect 10 people for you to be with,” Childers said. “Even in San Francisco, that might be somebody outside the city.”
  • Before Chief expanded outside of New York, the groups still met in person, but applicants who said they wanted to join for the space didn’t tend to make it off the waitlist.
  • The network is about the peer group, and the space is more like “the container that it can happen in IRL,” Kaplan said.

Chief is more closely modeled after the Young Presidents’ Organization, the 72-year-old network of under-45 chief executives who help each other work through challenges in their professional and personal lives.

  • YPO is all about its network and doesn’t have spaces of its own, Childers said.
  • Kaplan and Childers also got inspiration from Carole Robin, a longtime facilitator of the popular “touchy feely” course at Stanford, in thinking through “how you create the right level of, frankly, vulnerability that you need to get to in order to truly work through things,” Childers said.
  • “The Core [group] truly does get to a place of being able to talk to what’s really happening for you, both personally and professionally, because those two things very much mesh,” Childers added.

That said, the clubhouse is also a place where members can host guests, hold their board meetings, and — yes — take a Zoom call. Ten percent of Chief’s 20,000 members live in the Bay Area, but when Chief was planning its next clubhouse, San Francisco was also the most requested city by members who live elsewhere.

  • In other words, Chief members in cities such as Boston and D.C. wanted a clubhouse in San Francisco where they could visit while in town.
  • Despite that, Childers and Kaplan try to emulate something like a Harvard alumni club, whose clubhouses have “great amenities,” Kaplan said. But like Harvard clubs, most of the real benefits come from being a part of a vast, powerful network, Kaplan said.

But with a mission to change the face of executive leadership, the women-focused atmosphere might also feel like something more approachable. Kaplan recalled a similar feeling of camaraderie with other women in the dressing room at the old New York department store Loehmann’s.

  • “It kind of reminds me of this intimate space,” Kaplan said. “If you tried on something and you went in front of the mirror, all the women around you were like, ‘Honey, that looks good.’”
— Allison Levitsky, reporter (email | twitter)

FTC to Signal

Meredith Whittaker has been “accidentally training” for her new role as president of the encrypted messaging app Signal for years, through her time at Google, her work co-founding the AI Now Institute, and her stint as a senior AI adviser to the FTC, she told Protocol reporter Lizzy Lawrence.

For the latest installment of our “How I Decided” series, Lawrence sat down with Whittaker to hear about why she left the FTC to run Signal, where, among other things, she’s working to find a business model to sustain the app without compromising privacy or security.

Read the full story.


Today, we expect instant results from our every action, from calling an Uber to ordering a t-shirt. Companies can no longer afford to not adopt technologies like automation. We are now living in the Automation Economy – a new world that requires agility and a complete reimagining of how we work.

Learn more

Feeling stressed?

The pressure is on for many executives, who largely reported higher rates of stress than they did last year, according to a new survey of almost 11,000 knowledge workers conducted by Slack Future Forum.

  • Execs reported 40% more work-related anxiety and stress than they did last year with 20% worse work-life balance, Slack found.
  • Even as executives’ scores suffered, individual contributors reported 11% better work-life balance and 25% less stress and anxiety, year-over-year.
  • Still, 40% of knowledge workers said they were burnt out, including 49% of workers between the ages of 18 and 29. (Thirty-eight percent of workers over 30 also reported burnout.)

Some personnel news

Anyone else having a bad case of Great Resignation whiplash? It’s hard to keep up with which tech companies are growing, shrinking, floating, or sinking. We’re here to help.

⬆️ More NFT, digital games, and metaverse jobs are coming to … the MLB.

⬆️ Palantir is opening a second U.K. base near the National Health Service’s digital HQ, according to Bloomberg.

⬇️ The Boston-based ISP Starry is laying off half its staff, the company announced Thursday.

⬇️ Stripe leaders have asked some managers to manage performance more aggressively, Forbes reported.

For more news on hiring, firing and rewiring, see our tech company tracker.

Around the internet

A roundup of workplace news from the farthest corners of the internet.

Just in time for Halloween: Is your org frustrating applicants with ghost job listings? (Financial Times)

Looking for a better, more inclusive workplace? Glassdoor now lets job seekers filter for companies with higher ratings in work-life balance, culture, and diversity. (HR Dive)

The cybersecurity talent gap is widening, with 3.4 million jobs reportedly vacant around the world. (The Wall Street Journal)

Another Slack finding: Workers with flexible schedules reported 29% higher productivity and 53% better focus. (Axios)


Today, we expect instant results from our every action, from calling an Uber to ordering a t-shirt. Companies can no longer afford to not adopt technologies like automation. We are now living in the Automation Economy – a new world that requires agility and a complete reimagining of how we work.

Learn more

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