The co-founder of early-stage venture capital fund 500 Startups resigned from the company, admitting that he acted inappropriately toward women in the workplace. Dave McClure announced he was stepping down in a blog post titled, “I’m a Creep. I’m Sorry.” He thus became the latest big name in Silicon Valley to face scrutiny over his treatment of women and perpetuating a culture in which sexual harassment was normalized and often seemed as a regular part of the workplace.
“I made advances towards multiple women in work-related situations, where it was clearly inappropriate,” McClure wrote. “I put people in compromising and inappropriate situations, and I selfishly took advantage of those situations where I should have known better. My behavior was inexcusable and wrong.”
McClure wrote the post shortly after the publication of a piece in the New York Times that detailed his actions toward Sarah Kunst, who was seeking a job with 500 Startups in 2014. “I was getting confused figuring out whether to hire you or hit on you,” McClure wrote to Kunst in a Facebook message at one point. Although he doesn’t get into specifics in the post, McClure does apologize to Kunst and makes clear she was not alone as he acted inappropriately toward other women in the workplace.
For some, the apology fell short. After that article was published, tech entrepreneur Cheryl Yeoh also published her own account, claiming McClure sexually assaulted her in her apartment. “He pushed himself on to me to the point where I was backed into a corner, made contact to kiss me, and said something along the lines of, ‘Just one night, please just this one time,’ ” she wrote. Yeoh says she made the difficult decision to share her experience because she felt McClure’s post glossed over some hard facts. “If someone uses their power as a VC to make repeated sexual, physical advances on women in a professional context, that goes way beyond being a creep,” she wrote.
As more women are coming forward with their tales of harassment some say the Silicon Valley culture is at a crossroads. “Personally, I think we’re on the verge of a big shakeup in Silicon Valley,” said Kym McNicholas, director of Extreme Tech Challenge. “Those investors who have been misbehaving—and there are a lot of them according to female entrepreneurs that I know—they’re going to be called out as women get more and more support from the industry and they know they don’t have to be afraid anymore.”