Today, Webhead is an undeniable success: the cutting-edge company offers a full slate of technology and cybersecurity solutions for the Department of Defense and federal and state agencies. It’s the brainchild of Janie Martinez Gonzalez, an entrepreneur who built one of the first Latina-led web development companies from the ground up. In some ways, its story is common, but in others, Webhead is an anomaly, succeeding against all odds.
“I’m first generation of everything,” Gonzalez says. “Nothing in my journey has been easy, and I know much of it comes thanks to the sacrifices of those who came before me.”
When Gonzalez was young, her family came from Mexico to Texas, settling in San Antonio. She took on a lot of responsibility at an early age, and although her parents taught her the values of family, ethics, faith, education, and giving back, she didn’t have many role models who showed her what was really possible. “I learned to be a good citizen, but nobody knew to teach me the real truth,” she says. “The real truth is Latinas can be leaders and change the world.” As she grew and nurtured an interest in technology, Gonzalez remembers wanting to push the limits of what “someone like her” was allowed or expected to do.
As Gonzalez finished high school, she met a young man who was studying English and computer science at a local community college. Before long, he was writing her poems generated on a dot matrix printer, and when Gonzalez went to visit him in the computer lab, she noticed something—they were the only two Latinos in the room.
Although she felt like an outsider, Gonzalez stuck around. She saw students and professors using things like Netscape and Unix to write code and build web servers, and she was hooked. “I saw the future in a 1990s computer lab,” she says. “I knew I could start a business. And I knew there was a new frontier that couldn’t see my skin color and didn’t know I was a Latina.” Suddenly, the young woman who had encountered bias and discrimination saw herself on a level playing field where technology was the great equalizer. She eventually married the young man, Bill Gonzalez, and he launched Webhead with her; today, he’s the company’s chief innovation officer.
“After a quarter century, I’m still passionate about innovating in tech and providing real opportunities for women and minorities.”Janie Martinez Gonzalez
Webhead officially started when Gonzalez was a junior at the University of Texas at San Antonio. But although she’d found the confidence to pursue her dreams, the budding tech leader would still have to face systemic racism. She persisted when potential investors, partners, bankers, and others refused to believe in her ability to start an internet company. Instead, she relied on minority leadership programs, microlenders, minority business centers, and her own blend of passion and tenacity.
The dot-com era was booming, but it was only white men who were attracting significant investment dollars. Less than 1 percent was going to women, and even less was going to women of color. Left with little choice, Gonzalez started her company with $500 cash and a fistful of credit cards. She was turning a profit in under two years, and in less than five she had generated a million dollars.
This year, Webhead celebrates twenty-eight years in business, and Gonzalez has emerged as a visionary leader who champions women and minorities in her field. “After a quarter century, I’m still passionate about innovating in tech and providing real opportunities for women and minorities,” she says. Webhead is thriving in an industry where few start-ups find success—and most that do are led and staffed by white men. Gonzalez says most of her teams “look and feel” like her; she continues to emphasize minority hiring and leadership development.
Being raised in a patriarchal family in a town that didn’t create many advanced opportunities for women has changed the way Gonzalez leads at Webhead. “My background and my experiences as a Latina influence who we hire, how we grow, and what projects we bring in,” she says. She spends time mentoring others and sits on the boards and advisory groups of many companies and organizations. She is the first Hispanic woman to represent the largest, most diverse quadrant of San Antonio as a trustee of CPS Energy, and helped hire its first Hispanic CEO, Rudy Garza. She is the vice president and chair of the innovation and resilience committee focused on clean energy, wind and solar generation, energy efficiency, grid modernization, and electrification—areas where people of color and women are “vastly underrepresented,” she notes.
Webhead has been pioneering every step of the way. It built content management systems before there was WordPress, offered audio and video streaming services before there were podcasts and YouTube, built online journals before there were blogs, built email systems before there was MailChimp, and hired diverse employees before there was DEI.
The work has helped Gonzalez identify and train new leaders at Webhead as she transitions to a new role. In late 2021, Gonzalez announced her latest endeavor: she’s cofounding a new business called Quantum Realm Computing to harness the power of machine learning and build algorithms for artificial intelligence.
They’re the only Latinos in San Antonio focusing on quantum, and Gonzalez has been vocal about her role. “I’m a cofounder, not a CEO,” she says. She will focus on raising investments in a $1 trillion industry to transform manufacturing, healthcare, financial services, cybersecurity, and other fields. Gonzalez created groundbreaking new opportunities for women and minorities when she started Webhead. With Quantum Realm Computing, she plans to continue that effort.
Bracewell LLP congratulates Janie Martinez Gonzalez on the well-deserved recognition she is receiving as a leading Latina CEO in business and government. Bracewell is proud of her work protecting our nation as a leader in cybersecurity and of her service as vice chairman of San Antonio’s municipally owned electric utility CPS Energy.