Venture Capital’s Harassment Problem


The NewCo Daily: Today’s Top Stories


Last week The Information posted a story detailing multiple incidents in which a venture capitalist named Justin Caldbeck of Binary Capital made sexual advances upon female entrepreneurs his firm was investing in (or considering investing in) — six incidents documented in total, three in which the accusers went on the record with their names.

It’s hardly a shock to learn that such things happen in the clubby, male-dominated VC industry, which has had its share of gender-related scandals over the years. But it’s a clear sign that the business of funding the future is in serious need of self-examination and reform.

Caldbeck apologized and announced he was taking an indefinite leave of absence from his firm. Meanwhile, LinkedIn founder and prominent VC Reid Hoffman responded with a call for VCs to take a “decency pledge” committing to treating entrepreneurs with appropriate professional distance: “VCs should understand that they have the same moral position to the entrepreneurs they interact with that a manager has to an employee, or a college professor to a student.”

This is certainly a reasonable stance. But “decency” is the bare minimum we should expect from the people who invest billions and decide the fate of new companies. Investors who ask startup employees to pour their hearts into their work and their missions should be aiming a lot higher than that: As they set out to invent the future of technology and business, we should expect VCs to be raising the ethical bar, not just barely meeting it, or — as apparently was the case with Caldbeck — missing it entirely.

More daily items:

The Amazon Antitrust Bandwagon Begins to Roll

In An AI World, Work Changes Radically, and Government Takes the Lead

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