Twitter investor Chris Sacca apologizes for VC sexism

Sacca's Medium post offers an apology and takes responsibility for participating in sexism in the industry.

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2015 TheGrill Portraits, The Wrap, October 7, 2015

Chris Sacca wrote an apology for sexism in the industry.

Megan Mack

Chris Sacca is sorry.

The prominent venture capitalist took to Medium on Wednesday to talk about the VC industry and its relationship with women and minorities.

Sacca, who was an early investor in companies like Twitter, Uber and Instagram and has also appeared on the ABC show "Shark Tank," said that after listening to the stories of women who are speaking out about their experiences working in the tech industry, he's gotten a better understanding of what's going on. He announced his retirement from startup investing in April.

"It has become clear to me there is a much bigger underlying issue in this industry, and I am realizing at times I was a part of that," he said in the post.

The post comes at a time when there's no shortage of tales out of Silicon Valley of harassment, discrimination or basic unfair practices when it comes to hiring and retaining diverse tech talent. Sacca was also named Friday in a report by The New York Times about sexual harassment in the technology startup industry. Out of more than two dozen women who spoke with the Times about the issue, 10 named the investors involved, including Sacca and Dave McClure of 500 Startups.

In February, a former Uber engineer wrote her own account detailing sexual harassment at the company. This week, venture capital firm Binary Capital's co-founder Justin Caldbeck left after a story from The Information said he'd made sexual advances at women founders. A former employee is suing the firm for harassment and defamation, also describing a sexist environment. Back in March 2015, Ellen Pao lost her gender discrimination lawsuit against VC firm Kleiner Perkins.

Meanwhile, a 2016 report from Bloomberg showed that the majority of founders are men and they tend to raise more money, about $100 million on average compared to $77 million for startups led by women.

In the post, Sacca said he's gaining more insight for why these imbalances and discriminatory behaviors exist.

"I've learned that it's often the less obvious, yet pervasive and questionable, everyday behaviors of men in our industry that collectively make it inhospitable for women," he said.

What's more, he realized he's been part of the problem.

"By stupidly perpetuating a culture rife with busting chops, teasing, and peer pressure to go out drinking, I made some women feel self-conscious, anxious, and fear they might not be taken seriously," Sacca said, sprinkling "I am sorry" throughout the post.

Sacca also took responsibility for any times he might have not spoken up to "call out bad behavior" in the industry, like discriminatory hiring or gender bias during investing when he could have.

He also went on to list the general action he wants to take, including supporting women and underrepresented investors, advocating for them, and being aware of his own biases, particularly in the language he uses.

Sacca declined to comment beyond the post.

Sacca isn't the first VC to turn his attention toward balancing inequality in the industry. Mitch and Freada Kapor's Kapor Center for Social Impact aims to help women and minorities start businesses and get funding, as well as get education in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math. Female Founders Fund is an early-stage investment firm focused on companies with at least one woman founder.

"Going forward, I will continue to invest my time, energy, and money in leveling the playing field for a new generation of diverse investors," Sacca said. 

Update, 4:45 p.m. PT: Adds details about The New York Times report on sexual harassment in the startup industry.

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