In a Medium post titled "I'm a Creep. I'm Sorry"
BEAM 2 Jul, 2017
Dave McClure, the founder and public face of 500 Startups — one of the most prolific and best-known accelerator programs for early stage companies — has stepped away from managing the firm he set up and largely built in his own image.
In a Medium post published Saturday evening, McClure neither denies nor defends the actions that he says have cost him the executive position at the firm he founded. The statement is instead a relatively straightforward admission that he made unwanted advances on several women in work contexts and took advantage of his position of power.
Read the full statement below:
By now you may have heard I f*cked up, and people are calling me a creep.
While I’d like to believe that I’m not a bad or evil person, regardless it’s clear that some of my past actions have hurt or offended several women.
And I probably deserve to be called a creep.
So, what did I do?
I made advances towards multiple women in work-related situations, where 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.
With respect to the NYT article above and Sarah Kunst specifically, 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. It was my fault and I take full responsibility. She was correct in calling me out.
For these and other incidents where I have been at fault, I would like to apologize for being a clueless, selfish, unapologetic and defensive ass.
To all those I let down, and especially to those I directly offended and hurt: I’m very sorry.
I’m ashamed I didn’t change my behavior until I was forced to do so by circumstance and by others. The reality is, I was stopped from further bad actions by those who spoke up about my offenses, at substantial risk to their personal and professional reputations… and subsequently, by Christine and others on the 500 team. I won’t try and thank any of those folks right now, or act like I wanted that ass-kicking. But yeah… guess I kinda needed that.
When confronted about what happened, I was at first defensive. What did I do wrong? We were just hanging out! Why are people so upset? I tried to present my crappy behavior in the best possible light. I didn’t have much empathy for the people I hurt and offended, and rather than face up to my own shallow motivations, I rationalized my actions and came up with reasons to find blame in others, rather than solely with me.
After several tough conversations with Christine and senior management at 500, I realized that — guess what? — *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.
As a result of the above intervention, I agreed to hand over day-to-day management of 500 to Christine, and she is now leading 500 in the new role of CEO. My role has been limited to focus on fiduciary obligations to our investors as a general partner of our funds. Along with the above, I also started regular counseling sessions about a month ago to address my shitty behavior and poor judgement. I don’t expect anyone to believe I will change, but I’m working on it.
I’d like to state clearly that my past actions are most certainly my own fault and responsibility. Until recently, Christine and other senior management at 500 were unaware of my actions. Once they did become aware, they took steps quickly to investigate and prevent further inappropriate behavior. You can place the blame squarely on me, not Christine or anyone else at 500.
In the next few days as I get feedback from many (many) people, I plan to speak further with Christine and the 500 management team, our investors and advisors, and others to figure out the best possible outcome for 500. As this is a group of hundreds of people and companies, I would not want my individual interests to overshadow what is best for them (not me). I am also cognizant that many people outside 500 — including those I have hurt or offended — have strong opinions as well, and I am doing my best to listen.
My personal failures aside, 500 has long supported a diverse community of entrepreneurs including women, minorities, LGTBQ, international, and other overlooked founders. Despite my many mistakes, I sincerely hope 500 will be able to continue that mission. To the extent my actions have now made that more difficult, I am truly sorry to Christine and the 500 team, to our founders and investors and partners, to the larger global tech community, and again most specifically to the women I have hurt or offended, all of whom I have clearly failed.
And I know “sorry” means absolutely nothing right now.
Again, what I did was wrong. It wasn’t and isn’t acceptable. I’m working on behaving differently in the future. If you have suggestions or feedback or criticism, I’m open to hearing all of it. I’m guessing you probably have some.
Thanks again to everyone who has ever helped me/us along the way to 500.
Please continue that journey.
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