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McClure’s role at 500 Startups has been limited due to ‘unacceptable’ behavior

  • But investor Chris Sacca denies the New York Times' report of touching a female entrepreneur's face.
Dave McClure, founding partner of 500 Startups.
David Paul Morris | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Dave McClure, founding partner of 500 Startups.

High-profile investor Dave McClure's role has been diminished at 500 Startups, the investment company he co-founded and had been running.

"In recent months, we found out that my co-founder Dave McClure had inappropriate interactions with women in the tech community. His behavior was unacceptable and not reflective of 500's culture and values. I sincerely apologize for the choices he made and the pain and stress they've caused people. But apologies aren't enough without meaningful actions and change," wrote co-founder Christine Tsai in a blog post earlier today. "Because of this, we made the decision a few months ago to change the leadership structure at 500. I took on the role of CEO, which involves directing the Management Team and overall day-to-day operations of 500."

She added that McClure's role had been "limited to fulfilling his obligations to our investors as a General Partner" and added that he was getting "counseling to work on changing his perspectives and preventing his previous unacceptable behavior."

A New York Times piece today — outlining examples of women speaking out more about sexual harassment in Silicon Valley — gave one example of McClure's misbehavior, reporting on a Facebook message he sent to a female job candidate that said, in part: "I was getting confused figuring out whether to hire you or hit on you."

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The Times piece also recounted an allegation by another woman against another well-known tech investor, Chris Sacca. "At a mostly male tech gathering in Las Vegas in 2009, Susan Wu, an entrepreneur and investor, said that Mr. Sacca, an investor and former Google executive, touched her face without her consent in a way that made her uncomfortable," the Times reported.

While the initial Times story noted that Sacca did not dispute that account, he did deny it on the record in an interview with Recode. The Times later amended its story to include a quote from Sacca saying he disputed the Wu account and also entirely removed part of a sentence at the top of the story that said he did not dispute it.

"I dispute Susan's account from 2009," he said to Recode, as well as to the Times.

He also added: "However, I am grateful to her and the other brave women speaking up on these vital issues, so our industry can work toward the enduring change it needs."

Sacca did write a separate and earlier blog post titled "I Have More Work to Do" earlier in the day, but not relating to Wu allegations specifically, that talked about general behavior that he regretted over his career.

Particularly when reflecting upon my early years in Silicon Valley, there is no doubt I said and did things that made some women feel awkward, unwelcome, insecure, and/or discouraged. In social settings, under the guise of joking, being collegial, flirting, or having a good time, I undoubtedly caused some women to question themselves, retreat, feel alone, and worry they can't be their authentic selves. By stupidly perpetuating a culture rife with busting chops, teasing, and peer pressure to go out drinking, I made some women feel self-conscious, anxious, and fear they might not be taken seriously.

I am sorry.

Wu also told the Times that she was also propositioned by venture capitalist Justin Caldbeck, who is at the center of a series of allegations first reported by The Information, in what can only be characterized as serial sexual harassment of women entrepreneurs. Among those he appears to have victimized is Stitch Fix CEO and founder Katrina Lake, which Recode reported on earlier this week.

By Kara Swisher, Re/code.net.

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