500 Startups seems to be having trouble getting its story straight — and it’s just cost the startup accelerator another partner.
Elizabeth Yin is resigning from the firm, effective on Friday, the company confirmed to Business Insider. Yin announced her resignation Monday in the form of an internal email — later obtained by TechCrunch — that accused the company of a “lack of transparency and several untruths” regarding its handling of the departure of co-founder Dave McClure.
In an article published Friday about sexual harassment in the tech industry, the New York Times reported that McClure hit on an entrepreneur who was talking with him about a possible job at 500 Startups. In a response to Friday’s article, Christine Tsai, another co-founder of 500 Startups, said she had taken over as CEO a few months earlier and that McClure was not involved in day-to-day operations, neither of which the company had previously disclosed publicly.
But Yin contradicted that account in her email. Despite Tsai’s assertion that McClure had stepped away from running the firm — and a note sent out to the firm’s staff on May 25 announcing unspecified management changes — McClure remained highly involved at the accelerator, Yin said.
“He continued to be vocal and active in all 500 Startups Slack channels, influencing key business decisions,” Yin wrote.
“Despite having no official management power, it was obvious that 500 staff weren’t completely aware of the gravity of the situation and continued to be deferential and even supportive of him.”
Yin also accused the company of mishandling an accusation of sexual assault against McClure by a “colleague” at the firm. Yin did not name the colleague, but said McClure had “initiated ‘unwanted physical contact'” with her.
Separately on Monday, startup founder Cheryl Yeoh, who had worked with 500 Startups in the past, accused McClure of assaulting her three years ago, pushing himself on to her and attempting to kiss her when she tried to usher him out of her apartment. It was not clear if Yeoh was the “colleague” to whom Yin was referring.
McClure resigned from 500 Startups on Monday.
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