Merely a week after a creepy white venture capitalist in the form of Justin Caldbeck of Binary Capital was exposed of preying on Asian female startup founders, another Silicon Valley corporate honcho is being accused of sexual harassment by multiple women.
500 Startups co-founder Dave McClure was among those high-profile venture capitalists mentioned in the explosive New York Times article which exposed sexual harassment in the tech industry.
After female entrepreneur Sarah Kunst came forward with horrific details about his behavior, McClure announced that he will be stepping down from day-to-day management via a post titled “I’m a Creep. I’m Sorry.”
In his post, the 50-year-old self-confessed creep acknowledged the accusation and admitted that in the past he made advances on “multiple” women in work-related situations, where, he says, “it was clearly inappropriate”.
“I put people in compromising and inappropriate situations, and I selfishly took advantage of those situations where I should have known better. My behavior was inexcusable and wrong.”
“With respect to the NYT article above and Sarah Kunst specifically, I’d like to sincerely apologize for making inappropriate advances towards her several years ago over drinks, late one night in a small group, where she mentioned she was interested in a job at 500.”
“Again my apologies to Sarah for my inappropriate behavior in a setting I thought was social, but in hindsight was clearly not. It was my fault and I take full responsibility. She was correct in calling me out.”
“For these and other incidents where I have been at fault, I would like to apologize for being a clueless, selfish, unapologetic and defensive ass.”
While McClure eventually resigned as a general partner, the story refused to end there.
According to a recent tweet from Kunst, several other women who have either “worked for him, 500 invested in,” or “he has met through work events” also claimed to have been harassed by McClure. Unsurprisingly, most of them were women of color.
Reclip.it Founder and CEO Cheryl Yeoh, an entrepreneur based in Malaysia, would later share her own experience of sexual harassment at the hands of McClure who was then her investor when the incident happened in 2014. Here’s an excerpt of what Yeoh wrote on her blog:
“What started out to be an innocent night of just jamming and hanging out at my new apartment turned into a nightmare episode that has been haunting me for the past 3 years. Dave kept pouring scotch into my glass before I finished drinking throughout the night, and hours into the night way past midnight, suddenly, everyone except Dave decided to order an Uber. They all promptly left and left Dave there with me. I was quite confused by how that happened so quickly.
“I quickly asked if Dave wanted to order an Uber and leave like the rest of them but he said no. Perplexed, I offered him to crash on the couch or the guest room and proceeded to show him the guest room. Then I went into my own bedroom but Dave followed me there, and that’s when he first propositioned to sleep with me. I said no. I reminded Dave that he knew my then-boyfriend and that we’d just talked about him earlier that night.
“At this point, I led him to the door and told him he needs to leave. On the way out, he pushed himself onto me to the point where I was backed into a corner, made contact to kiss me, and said something along the lines of “Just one night, please just this one time.” Then he told me how he really likes strong and smart women like me. Disgusted and outraged, I said no firmly again, pushed him away and made sure he was out my door.
“Once he was gone, still in shock and in tears, I immediately called my boyfriend at the time and told him what had just happened. I was rather inebriated at the time, and couldn’t shake off thoughts of what might have happened if I had been any more drunk and helpless, or had let him stay in my apartment. The fact that I had to say no multiple times, and that he had pushed himself onto me and kissed me without my consent was way more than crossing the line of inappropriateness. It’s sexual assault.”
Yeoh explained at the beginning of her post that she decided to tell her story after reading McClure’s “I’m a creep” post as she felt what he wrote “generalized his actions to inappropriate comments made in a ‘setting he thought was social.’” It definitely didn’t address the severity of his sexual advances towards me and potentially others.”
She also lamented how McClure’s post has been showered by comments commending his “authentic apology” and praising him for the “courage” in writing it.
In response to Yeoh’s post, a 500 Startups representative gave the following statement to TechCrunch:
“We appreciate Cheryl speaking up and realize how upsetting and painful it is for her to have gone through that experience and have the courage to speak up. We can only hope our efforts in changing 500 can help create a safe and effective platform for female founders around the world.”
Feature image via Wikimedia Commons / Joi [CC BY 2.0]