Silicon Valley’s sexual harassment problems continue.
Steve Jurvetson, one of Silicon Valley’s most high-profile venture capitalists, has left his namesake firm, Draper Fisher Jurvetson, amid a sexual harassment investigation, according to Recode. He’s just the latest in a string of venture capitalist to be ousted from his firm for allegations related to misconduct or sexual harassment.
The publication, citing unnamed sources, said an investigation by DFJ “uncovered behaviors by Jurvetson that were unacceptable related to a negative tone toward women entrepreneurs.”
DFJ didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment, but operating partner Heidi Roizen issued a statement confirming the firm in the past few days has been “rocked by allegations about sexual harassment” and over the summer launched an ongoing independent investigation into “allegations of misconduct by one (and only one) of our partners from a third party.”
Jurvetson told CNET and also tweeted that he’s leaving his firm “to focus on personal matters, including taking legal action against those whose false statements have defamed me.”
Jurvetson is one of the best-known venture capitalists in Silicon Valley. He was one of the founding investors in Hotmail, which was later bought by Microsoft, and he serves on the boards of Elon Musk’s Tesla and SpaceX. Earlier this year, SV Forum awarded him the Visionary Award “for his role in fostering the spirit of entrepreneurship in Silicon Valley,” and President Barack Obama in 2016 named him a Presidential Ambassador for Global Entrepreneurship.
SpaceX and Tesla on Monday said Jurvetson is now taking “a leave of absence from the SpaceX and Tesla boards pending resolution of these allegations.”
Late last month, Keri Kukral, a female entrepreneur, alleged in a Facebook post that “women approached by a founding partner of Draper Fisher Jurvetson should be careful. Predatory behavior is rampant.” She didn’t name Jurvetson specifically. Kukral didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment Monday.
But Roizen refuted that sentiment: “I don’t need an investigation to state with certainty that this is patently wrong.
“I am too grizzled and old to write bullshit about a company to please my boss. I’m writing this because I believe it to be true,” she wrote. “I value my own personal reputation and integrity above any firm, and simply put, I would not work for DFJ if I felt the culture was not one of high integrity and opportunity for all — including women. Including me.”
Jurvetson, however, is in good company. Binary Capital co-founder Justin Caldbeck left his job in June after a story from The Information said he’d made sexual advances at female entrepreneurs. Then, Chris Sacca of Lowercase Capital and Dave McClure of 500 Startups issued public apologies after being named in a report later that month by The New York Times about sexual harassment in the technology startup industry. In July, , a managing partner at venture capital firm Ignition Partners, resigned after a complaint of misconduct from an anonymous source.
And the tech industry at large has since seen prominent bloggerand Amazon Studios head from their jobs following allegations of sexual harassment.
The departures have shined a light on. Women remain in the minority and small companies, despite efforts by organizations to seek out more diversity. In recent months, many have come forward with complaints about sexual harassment and other issues in Silicon Valley, Hollywood and other areas.
To help encourage female entrepreneurs, a group of female venture capitalists on Monday started a new program, called Female Founder Office Hours. “The idea is to host free, quarterly events that explore topics across the range of company stages,” according to TechCrunch. The first event, slated for Nov. 30 in San Francisco, will focus on helping seed-stage female founders with their pitches. The group will offer 40 one-on-one office hour slots with 10 female VC partners from Benchmark, Canaan, Cowboy, Forerunner, Freestyle, Lux, Sequoia and Reach. Two female founders who are now VCs also will talk about how to fund-raise.
“Our goal is for every female founder to walk away with a bit of advice from some female investors and a few new female founder friends that they can count on,” the group said on its website. “We hope to use this to kick-start a virtuous cycle and community of women helping women.”
First published Nov. 13 at 1:21 p.m. PT.
Update at 1:30 p.m. PT: Adds comment from Tesla/SpaceX and DFJ operating partner Heidi Roizen.
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