Writer CEO, May Habib, Leads With Words

Communication is key

May Habib may have entered the tech industry by accident, but she is now leading a successful company and a collaborative team.

Portrait of May Habib

May Habib

Habib is the CEO and co-founder of Writer, a writing assistant that uses artificial intelligence built for workplace professionals. The San Francisco-based company uses machine learning technology to help people sound smarter, kinder, and more confident.

Habib understands the power of words, not only in her company, but also as part of in-person interactions where the real magic happens. 

"I really like the idea that by writing and typing, we can learn communication strategies that serve us offline, as well, where really the strongest personal connections are formed," she told Lifewire over the phone. 

Quick Facts

  • Name: May Habib
  • From: May grew up in Lebanon and moved to the United States in 2003. 
  • Random Delight: In her spare time, May likes to take a relaxing bath every single day. And, of course, she spends her time playing with her kids. 
  • Key quote or motto to live by: "Comparison is a thief of joy."

Working With Words 

Habib originally got into the tech industry as a senior at Harvard by being placed into a tech group. After college, she was on the investing side of the tech world until she decided to take the plunge herself by co-founding Writer. 

The tech behind Writer uses an effective writing framework, with machine learning at its core, to learn the many nuances of the English language. 

"Whether you're new to English or whether it's your first language, there are some situations at work where just the right word is what we need," Habib said. 

"At the bottom of [the framework] is what we call foundations of great writing, and this is about spelling and grammar, but then also writing in a jargon-free way and writing clearly and concisely."

For example, Writer's machine learning can train models to learn natural language processing to determine the difference between homonyms and which meaning of a multiple-meaning word is correct in a sentence.

But professionals also use Writer’s tech to simply find the right words to get the right points across. 

Closeup of hands on a laptop keyboard.

Marko Geber / Getty Images

"We've talked to users and customers of ours who are tech professionals who get nervous when they're sending an email that's going to go to an external party, or they're not sure how to deliver a tough message to a colleague—they wanna be direct, but not impolite," Habib said. 

Habib said she's proud of how far the company has come since its launch in 2019, as well as the team she’s built to help get it there. 

"I feel like I've worked my whole career to get here," she said. "I think getting to a place with a team that challenges me and supports me by the same measures is an accomplishment."

Leading The Pack 

Being in a leadership role, Habib said she understands the importance of getting into the everyday nitty-gritty details and leading the pack (so to speak) in the company’s mindset.

"Something that is important for me at this stage is to be really on top of what our leadership team's priorities are and feel those priorities with them, and be able to give them the runway to own their success and own their mistakes," she said. 

"I do think coming at things with a mindset of growth and learning makes all of us a lot more successful, versus being anxious or desperate to get something done."

As a woman leader in tech, Habib said she is aware of the inconsistencies of gender in the industry, and how women tech CEOs are more scarce than their male counterparts. 

"Only 2% of venture funding goes to women, which is so absurd," she said. 

"I really like the idea that by writing and typing, we can learn communication strategies that serve us offline as well, where really the strongest personal connections are formed."

Because of that, Habib said it's vitally important for women already in the industry to support new women entering it. 

"The amount of funding that goes to mixed-gender teams or women-only teams is pitiful. Those are single digits, and that certainly needs to be addressed," she said. 

"We've got to support the women who are doing it. The more [women] there are, then the more they will create and fund others." 

Habib said she thinks there actually are many advantages to being a woman in the tech industry these days, especially when it comes to having the resilience to keep going despite challenges they may face. 

"I feel like I can do this journey in a way where I am supported by my family, and so I should keep going because I've got this beautiful ecosystem to support me that I built," she said. 

"I do think there are a lot of reasons why a woman won't give up."

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