Steve Jurvetson Quits Venture Capital Firm Amid Sexual Harassment Inquiry

Steve Jurvetson, a founding partner of one of the best-known venture capital firms in Silicon Valley and a board member of Tesla and SpaceX, is leaving the firm after it began a sexual harassment investigation, the firm told investors on Tuesday.

“As of today and by mutual agreement, Steve Jurvetson will be leaving DFJ,” said a confidential letter sent to investors in the venture capital firm, Draper Fisher Jurvetson, and obtained by The New York Times.

It continued, “DFJ’s culture has been, and will continue to be, built on the values of respect and integrity in all of our interactions.”

The firm’s spokeswoman, Carol Wentworth, confirmed his departure.

Last month, the firm said it became aware of “indirect and secondhand allegations” about Mr. Jurvetson in the summer and was looking into them.

On Twitter, Mr. Jurveston wrote, “I am leaving DFJ to focus on personal matters, including taking legal action against those whose false statements have defamed me.”

The investigation became public last month when Keri Kukral, a tech entrepreneur, wrote on Facebook: “Women approached by a founding partner of Draper Fisher Jurvetson should be careful. Predatory behavior is rampant.”

Last month, Heidi Roizen, an operating partner at DFJ, defended the firm. “I don’t need an investigation to state with certainty that this is patently wrong,” she wrote in a Tumblr post. She added that the firm had never received an official allegation of misconduct.

A Tesla spokeswoman said Mr. Jurvetson is on a leave of absence from the SpaceX and Tesla boards “pending resolution of these allegations.”

This year the venture capital and start-up world has been embroiled in difficult conversations about why so few women succeed in an industry that bills itself as a meritocracy. That conversation was prompted this summer by detailed reports about widespread sexual harassment of female entrepreneurs by venture investors, as well as articles about the legal contracts that firms use to cover up wrongdoing.

Several high-profile men in the industry have stepped down from their jobs, including Dave McClure, who founded the start-up incubator 500 Start-ups, and Tom Frangione, the chief operating officer of one of the oldest venture capital firms, Greylock Partners. Several other men issued apologies, sometimes while denying allegations of misconduct at the same time.

As more women in the technology and venture capital industries have come forward to discuss incidents of harassment and discrimination, the venture industry’s trade association, the National Venture Capital Association, began a monthslong listening tour with founders and investors. In an interview this August, Bobby Franklin, the president of the association, said that he was spending more time on the harassment issue than anything else. “I’ve called for the first time in my four-year tenure a special board meeting to discuss this,” he said.

Content originally published on https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/13/upshot/steve-jurvetson-quits-venture-capital-firm-amid-sexual-harassment-inquiry.html by CLAIRE CAIN MILLER, KATIE BENNER and JODI KANTOR