It is not rare for people in power to take undue advantage of their position. In the recent past there have been instances of both in India and abroad where corporate honchos, such as Arunabh Kumar, founder-CEO of the The Viral Fever and Uber founder Travis Kalanick, were accused of sexual harassment. In both the cases they stepped down from their respective positions. The latest in line is Dave McClure, the co-founder of 500 Startups in the Silicon Valley, who resigned after a woman revealed some horrific details about his conduct.
On June 30, The New York Times published a story titled ‘Women in Tech Speak Frankly on Culture of Harassment’, in which several women narrated tales of being harassed at the workplace. One such person was Sarah Kunst, an entrepreneur who stated that in 2014 she had discussed potential job opportunities at 500 Startups. She asserted that during the recruiting process, McClure had sent her a Facebook message that, in part, read, “I was getting confused figuring out whether to hire you or hit on you.” Kunst denied his advances and later when she discussed the message with one of McClure’s colleagues, 500 Startups apparently ended its conversations with her.
In the same story, it was also mentioned that after an internal investigation, McClure had decided to resign from his position. However, unlike most such cases, McClure admitted to his misconduct, and in a blog, titled ‘I’m a Creep. I’m Sorry’, he recounted several incidents and said that perhaps he does deserve to be called a “creep”. He even tweeted about his resignation.
— Dave McClure (@davemcclure) July 3, 2017
In the blog, he admits that in the past he had advances at “multiple” women in work-related situations, where, he says, “it was clearly inappropriate”. “I put people in compromising and inappropriate situations, and I selfishly took advantage of those situations where I should have known better. My behavior was inexcusable and wrong,” he writes.
With respect to The New York Times article, he apologised to Kunst and provided his side of the story. “I’d like to sincerely apologize for making inappropriate advances towards her several years ago over drinks, late one night in a small group, where she mentioned she was interested in a job at 500. While I did not offer her a job at the time, a few days/weeks later I did refer her to my co-founder Christine Tsai to begin a formal interview process with 500, where Christine and others on the team met with her. Ultimately, 500 decided not to offer Sarah a job. Again my apologies to Sarah for my inappropriate behavior in a setting I thought was social, but in hindsight was clearly not,” he wrote.
He goes on to state that after dwelling on his actions he realised that he was the problem, and not anyone else. “*I* was the problem. I wasn’t full of goodness and light as I thought, and I needed to take a closer look at the stranger in the mirror staring back at me. Somewhere, I had lost the plot,” he stated.
However, in his effort to change himself, McClure writes that he has started counselling. “I don’t expect anyone to believe I will change, but I’m working on it,” he added.