The downfall of Travis Kalanick should show the world of would-be tech entrepreneurs that they need better role models; that they need to stop looking up to the spoiled brats who lead some of Silicon Valley’s most hyped companies and the investors who fund their misbehavior.
Kalanick’s ouster last week from Uber is a watershed for Silicon Valley, something capable of shaking up its entrepreneurs and venture capitalists alike. For too long, its elite have gotten away with sexism, ageism, and, to coin a word, unethicalism.
“I’ve watched too many female founders put up with a little harassment here and a few unwanted advances there, so that they can afford to pay their employees and push their vision one step further. It’s not a fair trade-off but, with VCs in control of the purse strings, sometimes it seems like the only option.
The real problem is that this behavior doesn’t stop with the VCs.”
One technology investor stepped down and two issued public apologies as Silicon Valley’s widening sexual harassment scandal exposed more tales of bad behavior by venture capitalists.
VentureBeat interviewed Gascoigne about her open letter, and it brought up her own wounds of being harassed by male colleagues in the past. But she also raised the silver lining of an opportunity to change the way business is run in Silicon Valley and talked about how the women who came forward can now receive support from a much broader group of people who believe in the cause of equality.
The conversation around sexual harassment is gaining momentum in Silicon Valley — and so it should. With Uber battling sexual harassment allegations and Binary Capital dealing with its dirty “open secret”, the narrative is taking a rough turn. In light of these recent events, the question becomes: How should women navigate the predatory jungle of Silicon Valley?
These men’s apologies may well have been sincere and signal a commitment to change, but the responses to them—all that back-slapping and praise—had the effect of diminishing the gravity of their actions, reducing them to forgivable, forgettable episodes on the trajectory of their personal growth.
What he failed to recognize in his claim that women are at least partly to blame for our own non-presence in Silicon Valley is the general discrimination and demeaning behavior that women who do stick it out there have to live with daily. Today’s events prove one thing. Whatever McClure may think, that’s everyone’s problem, not just women’s.
Some women startup founders speak up about behavior they encounter in the male-dominated venture-capital industry
But what happens in Silicon Valley doesn’t stay in Silicon Valley. It comes into our homes and onto our screens, affecting all of us who use technology, not just those who make it.
So, why do we have a lack of outrage and commentary? This is important, because the question for women entrepreneurs is whether people just don’t care. Here’s why writing quickly is important: YES, MANY OF US DO CARE. This is entirely immoral and outrageous behavior. And it falls to us to stand with you, to speak out, and to act.
The Project Include co-founder had a stellar Silicon Valley resume. So why did she still feel like an outsider?
“It was only later, after I started talking to more people across industry, and also not just female engineers, but also Black engineers who are marginalized in a different way, that I started to realize that the problem might not be me, and it might be something more systemic.”
Several of Silicon Valley’s top venture capitalists and technologists, including Reid Hoffman, a founder of LinkedIn, condemned Mr. Caldbeck’s behavior last week and called for investors to sign a “decency pledge.” Binary has since collapsed, with Mr. Caldbeck leaving the firm and investors pulling money out of its funds.
The chain of events has emboldened more women to talk publicly about the treatment they said they had endured from tech investors.
Penelope Gazin and Kate Dwyer faced a lot of sexism and condescension when they launched their e-commerce marketplace for weird art–that is until they introduced an imaginary cofounder named Keith.