Less than a week after a leaked email showed her dismissal of the Black Lives Matter movement, a prominent Asian American investor in Silicon Valley has stepped down from her company’s board of directors.
Veronica Wu served as a board member at VF Corporation, one of the world’s largest apparel companies which oversees brands such as Dickies, Supreme, The North Face, Timberland and Vans. She was elected in March 2019 and was assigned to two committees: finance and nominating and governance.
On Thursday, Axios published an article that exposed an email Wu had sent in June 2020 to an office manager at Hone Capital, a venture capital firm she had launched in Silicon Valley in 2015. She was a managing partner at Hone at the time of her appointment to VF’s board of directors.
In their exchange, the office manager reportedly notified Wu that they would honor Juneteenth, a holiday that celebrates the emancipation of enslaved people in the U.S., as a company holiday. After Wu replied that she did not know about it, the manager explained that they were doing it in line with the country’s renewed focus on racism, which came in the wake of George Floyd’s death.
In response, Wu said she is “particularly not supportive” and that she believes the U.S. is not racist. Noting that she happens to be a woman and a member of a racial minority group, she praised the country for being a meritocracy, which allowed her to “get opportunities to compete as fairly as I think.”
“If people are truly color-blind, they would just stop talking about color and pay attention to the quality of work. If we judge racism by requiring every job to be based on a racial proportion vs. merits, then the NBA should not have so many Black players,” Wu wrote, adding that she does not see people “complaining about that.”
Wu then went on to slam the “Black Lives Matter” movement, calling its supporters “the true racists.”
“I don’t believe in ‘Black Lives Matter.’ If anything, I think they are the true racists trying to stir up things to make this country go to socialism, or even communism potentially,” Wu wrote. “I am a patriot. I appreciate all this country has given me and I believe it is a place where meritocracy thrives…I don’t appreciate those who try to weaken it by undermining meritocracy principles and those who try to stick to some race quota.”
Wu ended her response by saying that making Juneteenth a holiday is not really her choice to make. Instead, she said the decision belonged to the China Science and Merchants Investment Management Group (also known as CSC Group), which owns the firm.
VF Corporation investigated the email exchange earlier this year and found its contents to be legitimate, Axios reported. Wu is no longer with Hone Capital, as per her LinkedIn profile.
A former Hone employee told Axios that Wu had expressed similar sentiments in the past. “She would say ‘the reason you don’t see African Americans in tech is because they’re lazy and don’t work,’” the ex-worker alleged.
Wu has not released a statement since her email went public. VF Corporation did not provide a reason behind her board resignation, though the company said it was “not the result of any disagreement.”
“VF Corporation today announced that Veronica Wu has informed VF of her decision to step down from the company’s Board of Directors, effective immediately. Ms. Wu’s decision to step down from the Board was not the result of any disagreement with VF on any matter relating to VF’s operations, policies or practices,” the company said in a statement.
Wu holds a bachelor’s degree in applied mathematics from Yale University and a master’s degree in industrial engineering operations research from the University of California, Berkeley. Her LinkedIn profile says she founded First Bight Capital, a biotech venture capital firm, where she has also been a managing partner since April.