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Steve Jurvetson leaves VC firm amid sexual harassment probe

The high-profile venture capitalist says the allegations are false and he'll take legal action "against those whose false statements have defamed me."

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Steve Jurvetson has left his VC firm amid sexual harassment allegations.

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Silicon Valley's sexual harassment problems continue.

Steve Jurvetson, one of Silicon Valley's most high-profile venture capitalists, has left his namesake firm, Draper Fisher Jurvetson, amid a sexual harassment investigation, according to Recode. He's the latest in a string of venture capitalist to be ousted from his firm amid allegations related to misconduct or sexual harassment. 

The publication, citing unnamed sources, said an investigation by DFJ "uncovered behaviors by Jurvetson that were unacceptable related to a negative tone toward women entrepreneurs."

DFJ didn't immediately respond to a request for comment, but operating partner Heidi Roizen confirmed in a statement the firm had been "rocked by allegations about sexual harassment." Over the summer, DFJ launched an independent investigation into "allegations of misconduct by one (and only one) of our partners from a third party." The investigation is ongoing.

Jurvetson said in an email that he's leaving the firm "to focus on personal matters, including taking legal action against those whose false statements have defamed me." He also tweeted that statement. 

Jurvetson is one of Silicon Valley's best-known venture capitalists. He was a founding investor in Hotmail, which was later bought by Microsoft, and serves on the boards of Elon Musk's Tesla and SpaceX. Earlier this year, SV Forum awarded Jurvetson its Visionary Award "for his role in fostering the spirit of entrepreneurship in Silicon Valley." In 2016, President Barack Obama named him a Presidential Ambassador for Global Entrepreneurship. 

SpaceX and Tesla on Monday said Jurvetson was taking "a leave of absence from the SpaceX and Tesla boards pending resolution of these allegations."

Late last month, Keri Kukral, a female entrepreneur, wrote in a Facebook post that "women approached by a founding partner of Draper Fisher Jurvetson should be careful. Predatory behavior is rampant." She didn't name Jurvetson specifically. 

Kukral didn't immediately respond to a request for comment Monday.

In her statement, DFJ's Roizen disputed the characterization of the firm. 

"I don't need an investigation to state with certainty that this is patently wrong," Roizen wrote. "I am too grizzled and old to write bullshit about a company to please my boss. I'm writing this because I believe it to be true." 

She added that she "would not work for DFJ if I felt the culture was not one of high integrity and opportunity for all -- including women."

Jurvetson isn't the only VC to have allegedly harassed women. Binary Capital co-founder Justin Caldbeck left his job in June after a story in The Information said he'd allegedly made sexual advances at female entrepreneurs. Chris Sacca of Lowercase Capital and Dave McClure of 500 Startups issued public apologies after being named in a report later that month by The New York Times about sexual harassment in the technology startup industry. In July, Frank Artale, a managing partner at venture capital firm Ignition Partners, resigned after a complaint of misconduct from an anonymous source.

Prominent blogger Robert Scoble and Amazon Studios head Roy Price also resigned from their positions following allegations of sexual harassment.

The departures have shined a light on difficulties faced by women in Silicon Valley. Women remain in the minority at many companies, despite efforts by organizations to seek more diversity. In recent months, many woman have come forward with complaints of sexual harassment and other issues in Silicon Valley, Hollywood and other areas. 

To help encourage female entrepreneurs, a group of female venture capitalists on Monday started a new program, called Female Founder Office Hours. 

"The idea is to host free, quarterly events that explore topics across the range of company stages," according to TechCrunch. The first event, slated for Nov. 30 in San Francisco, will focus on helping seed-stage female founders with their pitches. The group will offer 40 one-on-one office hour slots with 10 female VC partners from Benchmark, Canaan, Cowboy, Forerunner, Freestyle, Lux, Sequoia and Reach. Two female founders who are now VCs also will discuss fundraising.  

"Our goal is for every female founder to walk away with a bit of advice from some female investors and a few new female founder friends that they can count on," the group said on its website. "We hope to use this to kick-start a virtuous cycle and community of women helping women."

First published Nov. 13 at 1:21 p.m. PT.
Update at 1:30 p.m.: Adds comment from Tesla/SpaceX. Update at 2:26 p.m.: Adds statement from DFJ operating partner Heidi Roizen.

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