McClure resigns from 500 Startups after harassment claims

Dave McClure, under pressure for alleged inappropriate behavior toward women, has resigned from 500 Startups, the unorthodox firm and accelerator he co-founded seven years ago. McClure’s bio no longer appears on the 500 Startups website.

“In best interest of @500Startups & at request co-founder @christine-tsai, i am resigning effective immediately. Pls support christine/500,” McClure tweeted on July 3.

The resignation followed an apology he posted two days earlier describing himself as a “creep” and acknowledging he made “advances toward multiple women in work-related situations.” The firm in a blog post the same day said McClure’s behavior was unacceptable and that Tsai had taken on the role of CEO.

The news of the resignation comes as Elizabeth Yin, a partner at 500 Startups since 2014, also resigned from the firm saying in a note to colleagues that members of management had denied McClure’s misconduct, according to Reuters.

500 Startups said in response it learned of the allegations regarding McClure in April and investigated, but due to the sensitivity of personnel issues kept the investigation confidential, according to Reuters. It added that it notified staff in an all-hands meeting that McClure would step down.

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The news also comes as an entrepreneur with ties to 500 Startups, Cheryl Sew Hoy, published an account of her experiences with McClure. Hoy said she had been propositioned several times by McClure and once fended him away after he cornered her and kissed her without consent.

“The fact that I had to say no multiple times, and that he had push himself onto me and kissed me without my consent was way more than crossing the line of inappropriateness,” Hoy wrote. “It’s sexual assault.”

In a statement to Reuters, 500 Startups said, “We appreciate Cheryl [Hoy] speaking up and realize how upsetting and painful it is for her to have gone through that experience and have the courage to speak up. We can only hope our efforts in changing 500 can help create a safe and effective platform for female founders around the world.”

McClure did not respond to a request for comment, Reuters said.

McClure’s resignation comes as revelations of sexual misconduct swirl through the venture community. In late June, several women spoke to the The Information about stories of sexual harassment involving Justin Caldbeck, co-founder of Binary Capital. Caldbeck has subsequently resigned from Binary.

Meanwhile, an article in The New York Times that called out McClure for alleged inappropriate behavior toward women also mentioned entrepreneur Susan Wu, who said Chris Sacca of Lowercase Capital inappropriately touched her. Prior to the Times article, Sacca, who is retiring from venture capital, issued an apology.

Photo: Dave McClure, co-founder of 500 Startups. Photo by Mark Boslet for VCJ