On Monday, David McClure resigned as General Partner of his own venture capital firm, 500 Startups. He has already stepped down as CEO, leaving co-founder Christine Tsai as head of the company, after a New York Times article outed him as sexual harassment offender.
No legal accusations have been filed against Mr. McClure, but the article itself was enough to prompt other women to speak. Also on Monday, a Malaysian entrepreneur called Cheryl Yeoh retold how she experienced a similar episode that bordered on sexual assault by the investor.
The New York Times article has sparked up a spreading debate worldwide, with more and more women coming forward, and investing firms trying to do damage control before they turn out to be next on the spotlight.
Mr. McClure’s behavior wasn’t a secret to other 500 Startups members
In 2010, David McClure and longtime business partner Christine Tsai founded 500 Startups, a venture capital firm that quickly rose to prominence in Mountain View, California and the U.S. for backing projects like Udemy, Canva, and more.
Among the most remarkable successes of their short career, there are deals made with the tech giant Google and the multinational banking group BBVA. However, all of those hits have been quickly overshadowed by yet another episode of prominent sexual harassment.
Sarah Kunst met David McClure in 2014, according to an NYT article, when she discussed the possibility of a position at the company with the executive during a social gathering. Shortly after, the then CEO hit on the entrepreneur via Facebook.
Alarmed by McClure’s inappropriate behavior, Kunst contacted other partners at 500 Startups and informed them of what had happened. The firm dropped all communications with her soon after, and needless to say, she didn’t receive any funding from them.
David MacClure: I’m a creep, I’m sorry…
In a letter sent to all staffers and employees of 500 Startups, one of their lead accelerators, Elizabeth Yin, explains why she also stepped down from her role at the company due to “several untruths” about the reported incident.
Yin alleges that the actual reason why McClure stepped down was that, after the article had spread throughout Silicon Valley, a founder figure of the capital venture firm threatened to speak out against the former CEO and straight out accuse him of prior sexual assaults.
While there is no official corroboration of these claims, a screenshot of a Slack conversation on 500’s general channel shows McClure saying “I have not assaulted anyone (that I’m aware of).” The firm was revealed to have been investigating the exec since April but not disclosing it “due to the sensitivity” of it all.
The founder’s claims might not be entirely true if Cheryl Yeoh’s Monday blog post is to be believed. In the publication, she describes how a drunk McClure made inappropriate advances on her while she was also inebriated, begging her to sleep with him and cornering her alone in her own apartment.
Other prominent investors named in The New York Times’ article have also suffered the backlash from both firms and investors, and many have parted ways with business associates as a result. McClure called himself “a creep” on a personal blog post on Saturday shortly after handing control of 500 to Christine Tsai.
Source: The New York Times