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Frustrated Female ‘500 Startups’ Partner Quits Firm After Sexual Harassment Scandal

A female partner has recently left 500 Startups reportedly due to her frustration on the recent scandal involving co-founder Dave McClure and how the firm handled it.

According to TechCrunch, Entrepreneur Elizabeth Yin stepped down effective Friday, three years after joining the Bay Area startup accelerator in 2014 as an investor.

CEO Dave McClure has earlier resigned over sexual harassment allegations from women whose startups are doing business with or seeking funding from the firm.

Yin’s departure, which was contained in an email obtained by TechCrunch, indicated that she was not happy how 500 Startups reacted upon finding out about McClure’s predatory behavior.

“It’s become clear to me over the last month that I can no longer be part of this organization. The actions that 500 has undertaken have deviated from its mission, and I can no longer continue to represent this organization,” Yin wrote.

“Specifically, I’ve had a lot of sleepless nights and deep frustration with the lack of transparency and several untruths that I believe everyone who chooses to represent 500 should be aware of.”

Earlier, female entrepreneur Sarah Kunst came forward with a revelation via an article on New York Times, alleging McClure of sexual harassment.

McClure would later address the allegation in a blog post titled “I’m a Creep. I’m Sorry,” where he apologized and announced that he will be stepping down from his post on the firm.

Since, the revelation, Kunst said via a tweet that multiple other women, most of them are of color, who have either “worked for him, 500 invested in,” or “he has met through work events” also claimed to have been harassed by McClure.

A second woman, Malaysian entrepreneur Cheryl Yeoh, would also later share her own sexual harassment experience at the hands of McClure.

Yin stated that after 500 Startups learned of his inappropriate behavior, McClure did step down as CEO in May, but remained involved in the day-to-day business at the firm.

She lamented that employees were only informed about the change after the New York Times article was published.

Kelsey Cullen, 500 Startups’ Director of Public Relations told Mercury News in a statement that while the firm took immediate action when management learned of the allegations against McClure, the internal investigation was kept confidential due to the sensitivity of the matter.

“In April our management team learned of allegations related to inappropriate behavior by Dave McClure,” she wrote in an email.

“We took the matter seriously and immediately initiated an internal investigation which resulted in the replacement of Mr. McClure by Christine Tsai as CEO. In May we held a company-wide all hands call and sent an email afterwards that same day notifying the team that Dave had stepped down from day-to-day management of 500.”

In a blog post of her own, Yin encouraged other victims of sexual harassment to also come forward and report such incidents.

“We have a real and undeniable problem here in Silicon Valley with sexual harassment,” she wrote. “While the perpetrators themselves are to blame, the truth is, the rest of us are also part of the problem — myself included.”


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