Sunday, 2 July 2017

Silicon Valley Business Journal/Cromwell Schubarth: 500 Startups' Dave McClure confesses: 'I'm a creep. I'm sorry'

Scilicon Valley Business Journal
Industry News

500 Startups' Dave McClure confesses: 'I'm a creep. I'm sorry'

Jul 1, 2017, 5:49pm PDT Updated Jul 1, 2017, 6:22pm PDT

Silicon Valley

Dave McClure, the co-founder of 500 Startups, confessed to making inappropriate advances… more

By  Cromwell Schubarth

Dave McClure, the demoted co-founder of the 500 Startups accelerator, confessed on Saturday to making "advances towards multiple women in work-related situations, where it was clearly inappropriate."

"I put people in compromising and inappropriate situations, and I selfishly took advantage of those situations where I should have known better," McClure wrote in a blog titled: "I'm a creep. I'm sorry.

 "My behavior was inexcusable and wrong," he added.

It's not clear what comes next for the man who has been the often-bombastic and entertaining public face of the Mountain View program he helped build into one of the best of its kind.
Co-founder Christine Tsai posted a blog on Friday that said McClure is no longer in charge of day-to-day operations at 500 Startups and his role has been limited to fulfilling fiduciary obligations as a general partner.

Tsai said all of that happened in recent months after his misbehavior was discovered but she didn't say exactly when. But it wasn't disclosed until after a New York Times article was published Friday afternoon in which a female founder accused McClure of propositioning her when she applied for a job at 500 Startups.

McClure's account of what happened differs from how it was retold in the Times article but he apologized and admits that what he did was wrong and that she was right to call him out about it.

Sarah Kunst, the founder, had said that McClure sent her a Facebook message while she was being recruited to join 500 Startups that read in part, “I was getting confused figuring out whether to hire you or hit on you.”

Kunst said she declined McClure’s advance and later discussed the message with one of his colleagues. After that she said 500 Startups ended its conversations with her.

McClure said his inappropriate advance came "over drinks, late one night in a small group, where she mentioned she was interested in a job at 500. While I did not offer her a job at the time, a few days/weeks later I did refer her to my co-founder Christine Tsai to begin a formal interview process with 500, where Christine and others on the team met with her."

He said that 500 Startups ultimately decided not to offer Kunst a job.

"Again my apologies to Sarah for my inappropriate behavior in a setting I thought was social, but in hindsight was clearly not. It was my fault and I take full responsibility. She was correct in calling me out," he wrote.

McClure said he alone is at fault for his misbehavior.

"Until recently, Christine and other senior management at 500 were unaware of my actions," he wrote. "Once they did become aware, they took steps quickly to investigate and prevent further inappropriate behavior. You can place the blame squarely on me, not Christine or anyone else at 500."

It's clear that this is probably not the last chapter in what has become a series of ugly incidents detailed by women who are going on the record about mistreatment by male startup investors and tech executives.

This includes the collapse this week of San Francisco-based Binary Capital. Its co-founder, Justin Caldbeck, was accused in a story by The Information of groping and making unwanted advances towards six women founders while he was at that firm and while investing previously at Lightspeed Venture Partners.

The news also comes in the wake of the resignation of Uber CEO Travis Kalanick after an investigation into accusations of a pattern of sexual harassment at the world's most valuable venture-backed business.

McClure sounded resigned in his blog on Saturday that his continued status at 500 Startups is in jeopardy.

"In the next few days as I get feedback from many ( many) people, I plan to speak further with Christine and the 500 management team, our investors and advisors, and others to figure out the best possible outcome for 500," he wrote.

    Cromwell Schubarth is TechFlash Editor at the Silicon Valley Business Journal.

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