Physical and sexual violence
- Michael Arrington (founder of TechCrunch and founding partner of CrunchFund) has multiple allegations of physical and sexual violence towards past partners.
- Dan Bilzerian (venture capitalist and trust-fund child of corporate takeover specialist/ex-convict Paul Bilzerian) threw a model off a roof during a Hustler shoot and broke her foot. He is also accused of kicking a woman in the face at a Miami club.
- Joe Lonsdale, co-founder of VC firm Formation 8, was accused of rape, sexual abuse, and emotional abuse in a lawsuit by a Stanford student. Lonsdale never denied a sexual relationship with the student, 8 years his junior and 21 years old, whom he sought out as a mentoree in a Stanford mentoring program after meeting her in person and prior to beginning a sexual relationship with her. He also gave her a summer job for his VC firm, Foundation 8, during their relationship. Lonsdale was temporarily banned from the Stanford campus, a decision later reversed despite Stanford's stated ban on sexual relationships between mentors and mentorees. The week after the lawsuit was dropped, Foundation 8 broke up due to Lonsdale's behavior according to multiple sources. (Lonsdale is also named in the Hyperloop lawsuit for alleged illegal financial practices and favoritism.)
- Michael Goguen, a partner at Sequoia Capital for 19 years, was accused of sexual, physical and emotional abuse of a woman for over 12 years, who was a victim of sexual trafficking. Her allegations include that he left her alone in a hotel room in 2012 after physically injuring her in a sex act so badly that she required emergency surgery. Goguen's lawyers are countersuing for extortion without denying the sexual relationship. Sequoia Capital, which famously has no women partners, stated that Goguen was leaving the firm as a result of these allegations.
- Alleged rapist Kobe Bryant founded a $100 million VC fund with long-time investment partner Jeff Stibel, vice chairman at Dun & Bradstreet, a Fortune 500 corporation. Stibel responded to questions about the allegations with “I think it is completely irrelevant and largely water under the bridge. A huge chunk of our portfolio company CEOs are women, and more than half of my senior executives [at Dun & Bradstreet] are female.”
- Edwin Urrutia was a co-founder of Turing Pharmaceuticals with Martin Shkreli. Urrutia left Turing after being investigated for alleged sexual assault of the company's chief commercial officer. He then joined EUKU Ventures, a VC firm focusing on New York City area ventures.
- While VC Ray Lane was a partner at legendary VC firm KPCB, he allegedly advised a woman partner being harassed to marry her harasser (another KPCB partner). Lane also married an employee who reported directly to him.
- Pavel Curda (European angel investor) propositioned multiple women who pitched to him.
- CMEA Capital settled a lawsuit alleging "pervasive and severe" harassment by chief operating partner John Haag out of court. According to ValleyWag, "The allegations are not limited to Haag. The complaint also says that management was aware of the problem—the firm's founder warned that Haag was a "predator"—and that the women faced retaliation from CMEA employees after they reported the allege."
- @garza_girl describes a comment about her breasts at the 2015 Crunchies from a "pre-IPO eBay exec."
- VC Shervin Pishevar allegedly dated a PR vendor working for Hyperloop while chairman of the company. Allegedly he raised her salary from $15,000 to $40,000 a month, and then fired her when their engagement ended. Pishevar has been a staunch defender of ousted Uber CEO Travis Kalanick, and in 2017, Bloomberg reported a number of additional allegations against him, including multiple accounts of unwanted touching, sexual harassment, and sexual assault. The victims in the Bloomberg story all reported fearing legal retaliation from Pishevar: "all asked not to be identified, citing fears over [Pishevar's] history of filing lawsuits and concerns that he could wield his influence in the tech industry to ruin their careers." Later, one alleged victim went on the record under her own name about unwanted kisses and sexual touching by Pishevar. Pishevar resigned from Sherpa Capital a week later.
- VC Christine Herron describes fellow board members commenting on her body in board meetings.
- VC Justin Caldbeck of Binary Capital was accused by six separate women (three under their own names) of unwanted sexual advances and touching in professional contexts. After initial denials, Caldbeck subsequently went on a leave of absence from Binary Capital, apologized, and claimed he now understood what he had done wrong and would seek counseling. One of his accusers pointed out she had been trying to get this story published for 7 years and Caldbeck had threatened reporters to prevent this story going public. Binary Capital decided to shut down within a week of this story. Caldbeck also sexually harassed another founder while at Lightspeed Capital, as revealed by a leaked NDA they required her to sign. Another woman told the New York Times that Caldbeck propositioned her while she was fundraising in 2010. Another woman is suing Caldbeck for retaliating against her after she quit Binary Capital after complaining about a sexist and sexualized working environment.
- VC Jonathan Teo, co-founder of Binary Capital, knew about Justin Caldbeck's history of sexual harassment when decided to co-found Binary Capital with him. Teo was accused by multiple women of creating a sexualized "party atmosphere" at Binary Capital and their events, in which women felt pressure to be fun and not make "drama" in order to maintain access to investors.
- VC Charlie O'Donnell from First Round Capital reportedly made sexual advances to so many women founders in New York City's Silicon Alley that a story on women founders in NYC turned into a story about Charlie O'Donnell's inappropriate sexual advances. Many people in the NYC tech scene defended O'Donnell in the comments, while others confirmed the story and told their own stories of harassment. 6 years later, O'Donnell was featured in another story about sexual harassment in New York City after asking a woman founder if he could bring a frozen dessert to her apartment late at night. He said of the incident, "I can be friendly w/o being flirty. I should be able to."
- VC Dave McClure, co-founder of 500 Startups, was quietly removed as CEO of the fund after "inappropriate interactions with women in the tech community." Very few people, including at least two LPs, knew of the change until a New York Times article called him out by name as a sexual harasser several months later. McClure confirmed the allegation of sexual harassment published in the New York Times in a blog post entitled "I'm a Creep. I'm Sorry.". McClure resigned as GP shortly before another woman published an account of sexual harassment and assault at the hands of McClure.
- VC Tristan Pollock, a venture partner at 500 Startups, was publicly accused of making multiple unwanted sexual advances and groping a woman's butt after a visit to a startup hub. 500 Startups announced they were restarting the investigation into the incident and putting Pollock on leave. As of April 2018, Pollock's personal web site states he is taking a combined sabbatical and honeymoon and he is no longer listed on the 500 Startups team page.
- VC Chris Sacca, a well-known angel investor in Twitter and Uber and founder of Lowercase Capital, allegedly touched a woman investor and entrepreneur's face without her consent in a way that made her uncomfortable at a tech event. A few hours prior to the publication of this story in the New York Times, Sacca published a widely-praised article outlining his plans to support women in tech without directly addressing the allegation. When first contacted by the New York Times, he did not deny the allegation, then denied it after publication.
- Marc Canter, co-founder of Macromedia, sent inappropriate sexual text messages to a woman founder while acting as an adviser to her startup. When asked about the allegations, he claimed he had done this in order to drive her away because he didn't like her ideas. Another woman reported that Canter propositioned her for a threesome multiple times. Another woman said Canter told her she had to have sex with him to keep her a job while he was interviewing for CEO at the her company.
- Angel investor Jason Calacanis bragged to the New York Observer about how many women pursued him sexually and invited a woman pitching a company to "stay in his summer house" (page 216).
- VC Frank Artale, a co-founder and managing partner of Ignition Partners, was forced to resign after a second accusation of sexual harassment within a year.
- VC Fred Destin, former GP at Accel Partners and Atlas Venture, propositioned a woman founder after she pitched her startup for funding from Atlas, despite a clear "no" from her earlier in the evening.
- AngelList co-founder and board member Babak Nivi told women at a company retreat held at a pool to jump in the water and rub their bodies together to warm up the pool. Further details are hidden by a non-disparagement agreement, though at least three sources made allegations of misbehavior to TechCrunch. In July 2017, AngelList made a statement that Nivi no longer works at or is a board member of the company but refused to say when he had left.
- Tom Frangione, COO of Greylock Partners, resigned after having an "inappropriate relationship with an employee." The firm asked him to resign within three days of learning about what was described as a "significant lapse of judgement."
- In a CNN story, an unnamed VC exposed his fully erect penis to an anonymous woman founder, in his office which was located in the basement of his home.
- VC Steve Jurvetson, founder and partner at Draper Fisher Jurvetson, was under investigation for sexual harassment by his firm after an entrepreneur posted on Facebook warning women about being approached by founding members of DFJ, saying "Silencing behavior ranges from security w/in the firm creating files on women, to potential violations of revenge porn laws, to grotesque threats." Jurvetson hosted a party at his home the day before a DFJ event that included pressuring young women to take drugs and have sex in a business context.
- VC Keith Rabois, a managing director at Khosla Ventures, left his position as COO at Square in 2013 after a sexual partner of his who became a Square employee threatened a lawsuit against Square. As an undergraduate at Stanford, Rabois shouted "Faggot! Faggot! Hope you die of AIDS!" outside the residence of an instructor, supposedly as a test of free speech.
- VC Michael Ferro, founder of two technology companies with a combined $1.25 billion exit and founder of Merrick Ventures, a private equity firm, stepped down as chair of Tronc in 2018 after two women founders accused him of unwanted sexual touch and sexual advances. Both women thought they were discussing business; one had just accepted an investment from Ferro.
Racism and sexism
- VC John Doerr, partner at venture firm KPCB, described the pattern he looks for when investing: "white, male, nerds who've dropped out of Harvard or Stanford and they absolutely have no social life."
- VC Dave McClure (founding partner of 500 Startups and former O'Reilly Media conference organizer) called a woman a lying bitch at a talk. His presentation also included a slide about leaders in technology reading "BTW, Those Guys NEVER Got Laid. ....until, They Got Filthy Stinking Rich." A 2012 presentation included a slide reading "Great products & companies do 1+ of 3 things:/Get you LAID (= sex)/Get you PAID (= money)/Get you MADE (= power)".
- Paul Graham (co-founder of Y Combinator) said he would probably not co-found a company with a young woman because she might give birth. Seems oblivious to the fact that women have used computers for as long as computers have existed. Famously panned CEOs with "strong foreign accents" but insisted this wasn't racist. Said that programmers in India "aren't real programmers".
- Tom Perkins compared the persecution of Jews under Nazi Germany to the "war" on the rich 1%. This incident made it into popular culture when it was referred to during season 5 of the TV show "The Good Wife," in the episode "The One Percent ." It was also referred to in season 2 of the TV show "Silicon Valley" in the episode "Bad Money."
- Jessica Livingston (co-founder of Y Combinator) tweeted approvingly about an article mocking UK feminists for fighting for improved equality in the workplace and at home using standard anti-feminist arguments, e.g. "And, yes, of course there are vital concerns like FGM, forced marriage and access to education for many girls and women in developing countries. But are we really pretending that a woman's lot in life in 21st century Britain is so bad?" (see Many bad things in the world).
- Peter Thiel (Facebook board member, PayPal co-founder, and Clarium Capital founder and president) said women getting the vote was disastrous for U.S. democracy. He directly funded videos by James O'Keefe, known for attacking progressive organizations like ACORN and Planned Parenthood through misleadingly editing secretly filmed videotapes. He spoke in support of notorious racist and sexist Donald Trump at the 2016 Republican National Convention. He donated $1.25 million dollars to Trump's campaign after news broke about tapes of Trump bragging about sexual assault. With fellow "PayPal Mafia" member David Sacks, Thiel co-authored a book called "The Diversity Myth: Multiculturalism and Political Intolerance on Campus" that featured multiple instances of rape apology, including describing date rape as "seductions later regretted." The book argues that racism is largely over and remaining racial tension in the U.S. is caused by people raising awareness of racism, not racism itself. Thiel later apologized for the comments on date rape, but then allegedly told others that he didn't mean the apology.
- John Doerr (KPCB general partner) said on stage that KPCB has "two new partners who are so diverse that I have a challenge pronouncing their names." He later apologized on Twitter.
- Sir Michael Moritz, chairman of Sequoia Capital, said Sequoia is "looking hard" for women but "we're not prepared to lower our standards."
- Scott Stanford and Shervin Pishevar co-founded a VC company with the racist and appropriative name "Sherpa Capital" (Stanford is white and Pishevar is Iranian American - read more about the fight to reclaim the term "Sherpa" here). Shervin Pishevar also proposed an app to stop racist police violence, an idea that was widely derided by anti-racism activists, including Anil Dash.
- John Greathouse, a partner at Rincon Venture Partners, wrote an article for the Wall Street Journal that recommended women hide their gender online by using initials instead of first names and removing photos. He apologized shortly thereafter, writing: "I apologize for the dreadful article I wrote in the WSJ. I told women to endure the gender bias problem rather than acting to fix the problem. I hurt women and I utterly failed to help, which I wholly regret and apologize for having done. Women have a tough enough time having their voices heard and my insensitive comments only made things worse. I am truly sorry."
- David Bonderman, a founder and the chairman of TPG which is a major Uber investor, resigned from the board of Uber after interrupting a woman board member to make a sexist joke at an Uber all-hands meeting for the purpose of announcing reforms to change Uber's sexist culture.
- A woman with children who co-founded a breast pump startup told Bloomberg about multiple instances of sexism she encountered while fundraising including VCs making comments on how she kept her body in shape as mom, asking how she'd raise children and run a startup, expressing disgust for the breast pump, and viewing porn and commenting on it while she was present.
- Angel investor Jason Calacanis claims racism doesn't exist in blogging.
- Marc Andreessen (cofounder of Andreessen Horowitz and co-founder of Mozilla predecessor Netscape) tweeted support of Tom Preston-Werner after he departed GitHub in the midst of a sexual harassment scandal. Claimed "technology driven change disproportionately benefits the poor". Blows off women who tell him that VCs overlook women who found startups. Claimed "Silicon Valley is nerd culture, and we are the bro's natural enemy" and "99.9999% of nerds I have known have zero frat in them." Tweeted in support of colonialism in India (later retracted). Recommended a book by the misogynist psychologist Jordan Peterson, after Peterson made news headlines for advocating forcing women to have sex with only one man as the cure to male violence.
- VC Marc Andreessen, co-founder and partner at VC firm A16z, and angel investor Jason Calacanis both expressed support for serial harasser Milo Yiannopoulos on Twitter, as documented in a blog post by Holly Wood [trigger warning: includes images of graphic violence tweeted at the author].
- VC Benedict Evans, partner at VC firm A16z, recently used some clueless language and then later tone-policed Melinda Byerley on Twitter.
- VC Dave McClure wrote an op-ed for TechCrunch blaming women for the lack of funding for women entrepreneurs in tech.
- VC Vinod Khosla, billionaire co-founder of Sun Microsystems and VC firm Khosla Ventures, made a series of comments about revelations of sexual harassment in venture capital in 2017. He said he was "a little surprised," "I did not know that there was any discrimination," and that it was "rarer than in most other businesses." Khosla Ventures has zero women investment partners out of eight total as of July 2017.
- VC Eric Weinstein, managing director of Thiel Capital, responded to Google firing the author of a sexist and racist manifesto by tweeting "Dear @Google, Stop teaching my girl that her path to financial freedom lies not in coding but in complaining to HR. Thx in advance, A dad."
Academic research, studies, commentary
- Women Are Disappearing From Venture Capital - Karen E. Klein for Businessweek, citing this research.
- "The vast majority of U.S. venture capital investments go to companies led exclusively by men."
- "Only 15 percent of nearly 7,000 VC-backed companies analyzed had a woman executive."
- "The total proportion of women VC partners has dropped to 6 percent, from 10 percent in 1999."
- "Women getting VC funding [in 1999] amounted to only 5 percent of the total, compared to 15 percent today."
- "The continued gender gap in investment is especially puzzling in light of multiple studies released in recent years that have shown that companies with women in senior positions are more likely to succeed than those that are all-male."
- Amity Shlaes, a libertarian author and commentator, wrote an op-ed titled Women Win in Venture Capital When They Don’t Sue, which serves to remind us that not all geek women are feminists and of accusations of harming the community as a silencing tactic.