500 Startups managing partner Khailee Ng today expressed his anger over Dave McClure’s alleged sexual assault of Cheryl Yeoh.
“I’m angry and sad about what happened to Cheryl, even more so as she’s a close friend,” Ng, who leads the VC firm’s investments in Southeast Asia, told Tech in Asia today.
A number of female entrepreneurs have come forward to detail harassment by McClure, 500 Startups’ boss, until his resignation Tuesday.
Here’s Ng’s full statement:
I’m angry and sad about what happened to Cheryl, even more so as she’s a close friend.
At the same time, her choice to join 500’s initiatives to strengthen industry practices for women, reinforces the shared belief in 500 as an organization.
500’s mission is larger than any one person.150 staff (43 percent female) in 20 countries, 1,800 portfolio companies in 60 countries (30 percent female founders), and 500 co-founder Christine Tsai, as female VC leading 500 as CEO, will further build on our work. We will continue to be a platform for investing in and developing the full range of entrepreneurial talent, including women, minorities, in Silicon Valley, and beyond.
Yeoh, who sold a startup to Walmart Labs in 2013, was the founding CEO of the government-backed Malaysian Global Innovation and Creativity Center. She used to work closely with McClure, Ng, and the 500 team on tech initiatives.
Following a New York Times story over the weekend narrating sexual harassment claims against McClure, Yeoh published a blog post Tuesday with her allegation of assault. Yeoh said McClure propositioned her several times and pushed himself on her, kissing her without her consent, in 2014.
“I’m now ready to tell what Dave McClure inflicted on me three years ago, in my own apartment. It’s not just inappropriate, it’s assault,” she wrote.
McClure, who earlier apologized for his actions in a blog post – titled “I’m a creep. I’m sorry.” – had just resigned as general partner when Yeoh ran her own account. Days before, 500 co-founder Christine Tsai announced that McClure had been removed from day-to-day operations.
In announcing the leadership change, Tsai said: “His behavior was unacceptable and not reflective of 500’s culture and values. We sincerely apologize for the choices he made and the pain and stress they’ve caused people.”
Ng is the latest to speak out on the scandal. 500 Startups’ team in Vietnam previously condemned McClure’s behavior. “We at 500 Startups Vietnam have no tolerance for this sort of behavior. We empathize greatly with those are directly harmed by it every day, all around the world, in every industry. So to hear about it coming from someone ‘so close to home’ makes it all the more disappointing and shocking to us.”
The statements come as Elizabeth Yin, who joined 500 as partner in October 2014, resigned from her role for what she previously called a continued denial by some members of the management team on McClure’s behalf.
Tsai said the decision to remove McClure from the helm was made “months ago” – when they first found out about his inappropriate interactions with women – which Yin https://techcrunch.com/2017/07/03/employee-email-claims-500-startups-leadership-delayed-acknowledging-mcclures-harassment-as-new-allegations-surface/”>disputed in a note to staff. Yin claimed, among others, that 500 leadership did not inform the staff about the changes and that McClure remained involved in the day-to-day, including Slack channels, PowerPoint decks, and company launches.
“It’s become clear to me over the last month that I can no longer be part of this organization,” Yin was quoted as saying by Reuters. “The actions that 500 has undertaken have deviated from its mission, and I can no longer continue to represent this organization.”
While all this was happening, 500’s Australian investor, LaunchVic, put the VC firm “on notice” for failing to inform its team about the scandal and allowing McClure to travel to Australia to represent the firm.
The upheaval at 500 Startups follows a series of revelations about sexual harassment against women in the tech industry. Silicon Valley VC Binary Capital’s future is now reportedly in crisis after sexual misconduct accusations against Justin Caldbeck forced his resignation and that of his partner. Earlier, Uber CEO Travis Kalanick was also asked to resign after an investigation into widespread sexism within the company.