SAN FRANCISCO — Prominent technology investor Dave McClure has been demoted by the start-up incubator he co-founded for engaging in "inappropriate interactions with women in the tech community," 500 Startups said in a statement late Friday.
McClure stepped down as CEO and was replaced by Christine Tsai, who now directs the management team and runs day-to-day operations.
"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. Because of this, we made the decision a few months ago to change the leadership structure at 500," Tsai said in a blog post.
McClure's role is now limited to "fulfilling his obligations to our investors as a general partner," Tsai said. "In addition, he’s been attending counseling to work on changing his perspectives and preventing his previous unacceptable behavior."
McClure declined to comment for this article. He retweeted the 500 Startups statement.
His demotion was spurred by a complaint in November 2016 by entrepreneur Sarah Kunst.
In 2014, when Kunst was discussing a possible job at 500 Startups, McClure sent her a Twitter message during a conference they were attending. The message sent at 4 am said in part: "I was getting confused figuring out whether to hire you or hit on you."
Kunst, 31, who now runs the fitness start-up Proday, said she rebuffed McClure, an alumnus of PayPal who has invested in hundreds of tech companies. In November 2016, she contacted a friend, one of McClure's colleagues, about the incident. 500 Startups then cut off communications with her, she said.
In an interview with USA TODAY, Kunst said the experience was "sadly all too common in the tech and investing community."
She confided in friends and wrestled with speaking publicly about it, ultimately deciding to speak with the New York Times so she could protect other women.
"I knew I had to tell them my experiences and hopefully spare them what happened to me," she said.
The venture capital world in Silicon Valley is facing heavy scrutiny after six women accused Binary Capital partner Justin Caldbeck of making unwanted sexual advances, with several saying the misconduct took place when they sought funding or guidance on their businesses. The explosive allegations have brought the venture capital firm Caldbeck co-founded to the brink of collapse.
Source USA Today