- Entrepreneur Laura Fitton, in an interview with Axios, accused Uber investor Shervin Pishevar of forcibly kissing her in 2011 and continuing to make sexual advances even after she pushed him away.
- Fitton’s accusations are the latest against Pishevar, but she’s his first accuser to allow herself to be named.
- Following the initial allegations, Pishevar on Tuesday announced he was taking a leave of absence from his investment firm and his portfolio companies.
Another woman has accused venture capitalist Shervin Pishevar of sexual misconduct – this time by name.
In an interview with Axios, entrepreneur Laura Fitton accused Pishevar of forcibly kissing her and making unwanted sexual advances toward her following a charity event in 2011. She told Axios she decided to go public with her story this week after Pishevar publicly denied five other allegations against him, and claimed to be “the victim of an organised smear campaign.”
“I was naive to feel that confronting him in 2011 was enough to protect other women,” Fitton told Axios. “It has been devastating to learn that he allegedly went on to hurt others, and, if so, it’s devastating that he hasn’t yet found the courage to own his mistakes, apologise, and start making amends.”
Fitton confirmed Axios’ story in an email to Business Insider.
In a statement shared with Business Insider by Pishevar’s lawyer, Pishevar “unequivocally and categorically” denied “any improper behaviour toward Ms. Fitton.” He did not deny in the statement that he kissed Fitton.
Pishevar’s alleged conduct followed a party that took place after the charity event, according to the Axios report. The venture capitalist invited Fitton up to his hotel room for food on the promise there would be other people with them, according to the report.
Pishevar allegedly continued his advances even after Fitton pushed him away
Pishevar allegedly assaulted Fitton in an elevator on the way up to his room. She pushed him away and told him, “no,” according to the report. However, after the allegedly unwanted kiss, Fitton voluntarily went with Pishevar to his hotel room.
Despite his promise, no one else showed up to the room, according to the report. And once there, Pishevar continued to make unwanted sexual advances toward Fitton, asking for “quite a bit more than kissing,” she told Axios. At one point Fitton agreed to let Pishevar hold her in bed while fulled clothed, according to the report. As they were in that position, he talked about his marriage troubles in the third person, referring to himself as “Shervy,” Axios reported.
In addition to denying Fitton’s allegations, Pishevar’s statement included several Facebook messages he and Fitton exchanged. In one, Fitton apologised to Pishevar for her “brittle response” to him after the 2011 charity event. Pishevar’s legal team said the messages reveal “a friendship and mutual respect” between Fitton and Pishevar.
Fitton’s allegations are the latest against Pishevar
Fitton acknowledged to Axios that she had kept in touch with Pishevar after the 2011 incident. But in an email to Business Insider, Fitton said she had not spoken face-to-face with him since their 2011 encounter. And “long before” Axios’s story, he had disconnected from her on Twitter, blocked her on Facebook, and rarely replied when when attempted to contact him, she said.
“He has not responded to anything in a few years, so I would not characterise [our relationship] as friendly,” Fitton told Business Insider.
Fitton had attempted to maintain contact, because at the time of their 2011 encounter, Fitton had just sold her start up, and Pishevar had recently joined Menlo Ventures as a VC, according to Axios. Pishevar’s connections and influence in the industry introduced a power dynamic that made it difficult for her to sever ties, Fitton told Axios.
“My entire career is dependent on my professional network,” Fitton said in the report. “He wasn’t just a contact I wanted to keep, but maybe my most valuable contact. He was like a golden boy because he seemed to be connected to every hot startup in Silicon Valley.”
Fitton’s allegations of sexual misconduct against Pishevar follow those from five other women in a report from Bloomberg last week. Separately, Pishevar, who was an early investor in Uber, was arrested in London on May 27 following a rape allegation, but he was released without charges when the police decided the case would not stand up.
Pishevar announced earlier this week he would take a leave of absence from his investment firm, Sherpa Capital, and from his role as a director of several of his portfolio companies, including Virgin Hyperloop One.