Joe Lonsdale, co-founder of VC firm Formation 8, was accused of rape, sexual abuse, and emotional abuse in a lawsuit by a Stanford student. Lonsdale never denied a sexual relationship with the student, 8 years his junior and 21 years old, whom he sought out as a mentoree in a Stanford mentoring program after meeting her in person and prior to beginning a sexual relationship with her. He also gave her a summer job for his VC firm, Foundation 8, during their relationship. Lonsdale was temporarily banned from the Stanford campus, a decision later reversed despite Stanford's stated ban on sexual relationships between mentors and mentorees. The week after the lawsuit was dropped, Foundation 8 broke up due to Lonsdale's behavior according to multiple sources. (Lonsdale is also named in the Hyperloop lawsuit for alleged illegal financial practices and favoritism.)
Michael Goguen, a partner at Sequoia Capital for 19 years, was accused of sexual, physical and emotional abuse of a woman for over 12 years, who was a victim of sexual trafficking. Her allegations include that he left her alone in a hotel room in 2012 after physically injuring her in a sex act so badly that she required emergency surgery. Goguen's lawyers are countersuing for extortion without denying the sexual relationship. Sequoia Capital, which famously has no women partners, stated that Goguen was leaving the firm as a result of these allegations.
Alleged rapist Kobe Bryant founded a $100 million VC fund with long-time investment partner Jeff Stibel, vice chairman at Dun & Bradstreet, a Fortune 500 corporation. Stibel responded to questions about the allegations with “I think it is completely irrelevant and largely water under the bridge. A huge chunk of our portfolio company CEOs are women, and more than half of my senior executives [at Dun & Bradstreet] are female.”
Edwin Urrutia was a co-founder of Turing Pharmaceuticals with Martin Shkreli. Urrutia left Turing after being investigated for alleged sexual assault of the company's chief commercial officer. He then joined EUKU Ventures, a VC firm focusing on New York City area ventures.
CMEA Capital settled a lawsuit alleging "pervasive and severe" harassment by chief operating partner John Haag out of court. According to ValleyWag, "The allegations are not limited to Haag. The complaint also says that management was aware of the problem—the firm's founder warned that Haag was a "predator"—and that the women faced retaliation from CMEA employees after they reported the allege."
VC Shervin Pishevarallegedly dated a PR vendor working for Hyperloop while chairman of the company. Allegedly he raised her salary from $15,000 to $40,000 a month, and then fired her when their engagement ended. Pishever has been a staunch defender of ousted Uber CEO Travis Kalanick, and in 2017, Bloomberg reported a number of additional allegations against him, including multiple accounts of unwanted touching, sexual harassment, and sexual assault. The victims in the Bloomberg story all reported fearing legal retaliation from Pishevar: "all asked not to be identified, citing fears over [Pishevar's] history of filing lawsuits and concerns that he could wield his influence in the tech industry to ruin their careers." Later, one alleged victim went on the record under her own name about unwanted kisses and sexual touching by Pishevar.
VC Justin Caldbeck of Binary Capital was accused by six separate women (three under their own names) of unwanted sexual advances and touching in professional contexts. After initial denials, Caldbeck subsequently went on a leave of absence from Binary Capital, apologized, and claimed he now understood what he had done wrong and would seek counseling. One of his accusers pointed out she had been trying to get this story published for 7 years and Caldbeck had threatened reporters to prevent this story going public. Binary Capital decided to shut down within a week of this story. Caldbeck also sexually harassed another founder while at Lightspeed Capital, as revealed by a leaked NDA they required her to sign. Another woman told the New York Times that Caldbeck propositioned her while she was fundraising in 2010. Another woman is suing Caldbeck for retaliating against her after she quit Binary Capital after complaining about a sexist and sexualized working environment.
Jessica Livingston (co-founder of Y Combinator) tweeted approvingly about an article mocking UK feminists for fighting for improved equality in the workplace and at home using standard anti-feminist arguments, e.g. "And, yes, of course there are vital concerns like FGM, forced marriage and access to education for many girls and women in developing countries. But are we really pretending that a woman's lot in life in 21st century Britain is so bad?" (see Many bad things in the world).
John Greathouse, a partner at Rincon Venture Partners, wrote an article for the Wall Street Journal that recommended women hide their gender online by using initials instead of first names and removing photos. He apologized shortly thereafter, writing: "I apologize for the dreadful article I wrote in the WSJ. I told women to endure the gender bias problem rather than acting to fix the problem. I hurt women and I utterly failed to help, which I wholly regret and apologize for having done. Women have a tough enough time having their voices heard and my insensitive comments only made things worse. I am truly sorry."
A woman with children who co-founded a breast pump startup told Bloomberg about multiple instances of sexism she encountered while fundraising including VCs making comments on how she kept her body in shape as mom, asking how she'd raise children and run a startup, expressing disgust for the breast pump, and viewing porn and commenting on it while she was present.
VC Vinod Khosla, billionaire co-founder of Sun Microsystems and VC firm Khosla Ventures, made a series of comments about revelations of sexual harassment in venture capital in 2017. He said he was "a little surprised," "I did not know that there was any discrimination," and that it was "rarer than in most other businesses." Khosla Ventures has zero women investment partners out of eight total as of July 2017.
"The vast majority of U.S. venture capital investments go to companies led exclusively by men."
"Only 15 percent of nearly 7,000 VC-backed companies analyzed had a woman executive."
"The total proportion of women VC partners has dropped to 6 percent, from 10 percent in 1999."
"Women getting VC funding [in 1999] amounted to only 5 percent of the total, compared to 15 percent today."
"The continued gender gap in investment is especially puzzling in light of multiple studies released in recent years that have shown that companies with women in senior positions are more likely to succeed than those that are all-male."