×

Vinod Khosla: Venture capital has less sexual harassment than other industries

Vinod Khosla, founder of Khosla Ventures
Noah Berger | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Vinod Khosla, founder of Khosla Ventures

To hear Vinod Khosla tell it, sexual harassment isn't quite as common in venture capital as you might think.

As a spate of allegations rock the business, Khosla said he was "a little surprised" by the revelations, but is still arguing that venture capital is relatively a safer space for women than other fields are today.

"I did not know that there was any discrimination," Khosla said, adding that it was "rarer than in most other businesses."

"I've never done a statistical survey," Khosla admitted to an audience at a trade event in Palo Alto Thursday evening. But he said he is quizzing women about their experiences and it was nevertheless his "impression" that the problem was not quite as prevalent as a percentage as it is in other industries, such as autos or finance.

Harassment allegations have already ejected two prominent venture capitalists from rival firms in recent weeks, and firms today describe an industry on edge and waiting for more shoes to drop.

"It's a reality because it's perceived as a reality," Khosla said of the sexual harassment problem, attributing its prominence to the high media profile of the ousters. "And perception is more important than reality."

More from Recode:
Sweetgreen's Jonathan Neman and Glossier's Emily Weiss are coming to Code Commerce
NBC has 30 employees working on a daily news show exclusively for Snapchat
This is how the 'Game of Thrones' budget and audience compares with other big network blockbusters

One survey from last year found that 60 percent of women in Silicon Valley identified as victims of sexual harassment. Industry-by-industry polls of women are hard to find, though a study last year found that only 30 percent of women in medicine said the same.

The founder of Khosla Ventures professed confidence that no women entrepreneurs that walked through his firm's doors felt harassed, and that companies do better with women involved in leadership.

Khosla, speaking at the Commonwealth Club of California, also protested what he sees as an overzealous, unaccountable media: He said he certainly still supported Peter Thiel's past lawsuit against Gawker, and that he "would absolutely" fund litigation against media organizations if he felt sufficiently offended.

— By Theodore Schleifer, Recode.net.

CNBC's parent NBCUniversal is an investor in Recode's parent Vox, and the companies have a content-sharing arrangement.