Where the women are: OnlineOctober 1, 2012: 5:00 AM ET
As the Web grows more social and more mobile, women - entrepreneurs and users - are heeding the call.
By Jennifer Alsever, contributor
FORTUNE -- It's a woman's World Wide Web. Today's online experience is increasingly about connecting with people and sharing information -- and female users have responded enthusiastically. Some 56% of Twitterers are women; they are more than half of Facebook subscribers; and they make up 70% of Pinterest's users.
None of those services were specifically invented for women, though. Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest all have male founders. The male principals at Pinterest investor Andreessen Horowitz admit that initially they didn't really understand the appeal of the site. Female researchers had to explain what all the fuss was about.
That's changing. Emboldened by statistics that show that women spend 25 hours a month online -- two more hours than the guys -- and account for about 60% of e-commerce dollars, entrepreneurs are unleashing a slew of new female-centric sites. And more and more of those sites are founded, and funded, by women. "In Silicon Valley there is a much, much bigger appreciation of the power of the female consumer," says Patricia Nakache, a partner with Trinity Ventures in Palo Alto. "It's dramatic."
Nakache backs OneJackson.com, an online kids' clothing store launched in August by Anne Raimondi, a retailing and e-commerce veteran. Women have long been players in online retailing: Alexandra Wilkis Wilson and Alexis Maybank founded flash sales site Gilt Groupe in 2007; Susan Feldman and Alison Pincus started houseware site One Kings Lane in 2009.
OneJackson is trying to offer more than cute clothes. Raimondi envisions OneJackson as a community, where moms get to know the indie designers behind the clothes -- see their pictures, their drawings, their stories. Users can vote on which designs they like best, "like" them, and pin the photos on Pinterest. It's sort of like Facebook (FB) meets Project Runway for Kids meets Suri Cruise. "Hopefully they've made new friends or made connections," Raimondi says. "And it becomes more meaningful than straight shopping." In a similar vein, woman-run Minted.com lets women vote for and purchase their favorite indie stationery or invitation designs. (Raimondi is an investor in Minted.)
While these latest woman-centric sites are starting to gain traction, they remain, at heart, e-commerce sites. None has emerged as a utility or a platform à la Facebook or Twitter. That could change, though. In an open letter on his blog to Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer, venture capitalist Dave McClure urged her to "think pink" and focus the company on women. Only Mayer and her team know whether that's the right approach for Yahoo (YHOO), but plenty of people are betting that a pink strategy will translate into lots of green.
This story is from the October 8, 2012 issue of Fortune.