Hyperloop One co-founder steps aside after sexual harassment claims

Venture capitalist Shervin Pishevar issued a personal statement on Tuesday saying he would take a leave of absence effective immediately from his responsibilities as at the investment firm Sherpa Capital and the futurist startup Hyperloop One. The decision comes after a wave of allegations of sexual harassment.

Pishevar has been accused by at least five women in Silicon Valley of inappropriate behavior at the workplace and at work-related events. In London, the entrepreneur was arrested a few months ago on charges of sexual assault that ended up being dropped after further investigations from the police.

The executive is regarded as a highly influential figure in both the tech and the political scene, with strategic stakes at companies like Airbnb and Tumblr as well as contacts all the way up to the Senate and the White House. These networks represent the main reason why alleged victims don’t speak out against Pishevar.

Shervin Pishevar has a history of sexual harassment allegations

Accusations against the entrepreneur go as far back as 2013, according to testimonies by anonymous women given to Bloomberg last month. Among the most common claims, victims note that Pishevar has a tendency of forcibly kissing women and, sometimes, forcing himself into them at a sexual level.

Shervin Pishevar, who is a co-founder of Hyperloop One and a board member at Uber, seems to have a modus operandi based on false promises of career opportunities made to female employees. He engages first in a professional relationship only to follow with personal proposals and unwanted advances.

Reports by several women all share the same description of him “exploiting a professional connection, and using the prospect of a job, mentorship or investment to make an unwanted sexual advance.” Coworkers who witnessed Pishevar’s pursuits corroborated some of the accounts given to Bloomberg.

Victims fear the backlash of Pishevar’s influence

Testimonies also all share anonymity due to the fact that Pishevar has positioned himself as an influential personality in the tech world. His connections to Washington have also given him far-reaching resources to silence those who try to expose him.

He recently filed a lawsuit against a political opposition firm who disclosed his incidents with women over the years. He believes they are conducting a smear campaign against him, although reports of his inappropriate behavior have been circulating for years among tech circles.

Pishevar is close to former Uber CEO Travis Kalanick and is currently in talks with Richard Branson to make the first Hyperloop track a reality sooner rather than later. His political influence as a regular Democratic donor led him to his appointing by President Obama to the board of the Fulbright Foreign Scholarship organization back in 2015.

Source: Bloomberg