Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

Women Frankly Describe Rampant Sexual Harassment in Silicon Valley

Katie Benner, New York Times:

One female entrepreneur recounted how she had been propositioned by a Silicon Valley venture capitalist while seeking a job with him, which she did not land after rebuffing him. Another showed the increasingly suggestive messages she had received from a start-up investor. And one chief executive described how she had faced numerous sexist comments from an investor while raising money for her online community website.

What happened afterward was often just as disturbing, the women told The New York Times. Many times, the investors’ firms and colleagues ignored or played down what had happened when the situations were brought to their attention. Saying anything, the women were warned, might lead to ostracism.

Now some of these female entrepreneurs have decided to take that risk. More than two dozen women in the technology start-up industry spoke to The Times in recent days about being sexually harassed. Ten of them named the investors involved, often providing corroborating messages and emails, and pointed to high-profile venture capitalists such as Chris Sacca of Lowercase Capital and Dave McClure of 500 Startups, who did not dispute the accounts.

Journalists often try to get two unaffiliated sources to corroborate claims like these; Benner got over two dozen women reporting their own experiences, many of them attributed to them. Given the culture of Silicon Valley that has been reported in countless articles, including Benner’s piece, that’s a brave move.

This story is well-reported and shocking but, alas, unsurprising. The day before the Times published their piece — and, presumably, around the time that Benner contacted Chris Sacca for a response — he published a thing on Medium to preempt some of the criticism he would inevitably face. It sounds like an acknowledgement of his mistakes but, just a day after Benner’s piece was published, Susan J. Fowler — yes, that Susan J. Fowler — said on Twitter that Sacca messaged her to try to get her to stop tweeting about him. Gross.

Update: Matthew Panzarino and Jonathan Shieber of TechCrunch are reporting that Dave McClure has resigned.