The founding partner of 500 Startups, Dave McClure, is no longer in charge of the startup incubator’s day-to-day operations, after being accused of “inappropriate behaviour with women,” The New York Times reported.
In its story, the New York Times named one particular woman, Sarah Kunst, who told the paper McClure harassed her after she talked with him about a job at 500 Startups. McClure did not dispute the account, according to the Times.
“After being made aware of instances of Dave having inappropriate behaviour with women in the tech community, we have been making changes internally,” 500 Startups told the Times. “He recognises he has made mistakes and has been going through counseling to work on addressing changes in his previous unacceptable behaviour.”
Christine Tsai, co-founder of 500 Startups, is now CEO. Tsai wrote in a statement published Friday that she took over the role a few months ago.
“Dave’s role has been limited to fulfilling his obligations to our investors as a General Partner. In addition, he’s been attending counseling to work on changing his perspectives and preventing his previous unacceptable behaviour,” Tsai wrote.
McClure is a big name in the San Francisco startup world. His company, which provides funding to young companies and helps them get off the ground, has backed CreditKarma and Twilio, among other successful startups.
He recently visited Australia to launch a local arm for 500 Startups.
Many of the businesses that work with 500 Startups are early in their development, when the entrepreneurs that created them might be more desperate and eager for funding — and potentially more vulnerable to behaviour that exploits an imbalanced power dynamic.
The sidelining of McClure is only the latest example of how a growing awareness of gender inequality and sexual harassment in tech is shaking up the industry.
Justin Caldbeck, a co-founding partner of Binary Capital, resigned last week following a similar report in The Information. Meanwhile, reports of poor treatment of women at Uber prompted an investigation that led to CEO Travis Kalanick’s resignation, the departure of numerous other executives, and the firing of more than 20 employees.
The Times story also named Chris Sacca, the Shark Tank judge and recently retired venture capitalist. On Thursday, in a preemptive response to the article, he published a post on Medium called “I Have More Work To Do” in which he apologised and said that he had “personally contributed” to making the tech industry “inhospitable for women.”
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