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VC Chris Sacca Pens Open Letter Apologizing to Women
As Silicon Valley grapples with more sexual harassment allegations – this time involving Binary Capital co-founder Justin Caldbeck – venture capitalist Chris Sacca has penned an open letter on Medium apologizing and saying that he “personally contributed to the problem” facing women in the industry.
Sacca, a co-founder of Lowercase Capital and an early investor in companies such as Twitter, Instagram and Uber says in his essay – titled “I Have More Work to Do.” – that he contributed to “the unrelenting, day-to-day culture of dismissiveness that creates a continually bleak environment for women and other underrepresented groups.”
Particularly when reflecting upon my early years in Silicon Valley, there is no doubt I said and did things that made some women feel awkward, unwelcome, insecure, and/or discouraged. In social settings, under the guise of joking, being collegial, flirting, or having a good time, I undoubtedly caused some women to question themselves, retreat, feel alone, and worry they can’t be their authentic selves. 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.
I am sorry.
In my mind, because I hadn’t acted in a way that exploited an imbalance of power or vulnerability in a VC-founder relationship, I’ve generally considered myself one of the “good guys.”
Sacca also says that he “didn’t consistently use my power and influence to call out bad behavior by industry peers,” instead taking a passive approach to the discrimination and harassment problems that have become notorious in Silicon Valley.
“Along the way, I looked the other way and didn’t speak up at times I should have,” Sacca writes. “I didn’t highlight blatantly discriminatory hiring and I didn’t call bullshit on overtly gender-biased investing.”
Verdict aside, we have a deep gender discrimination problem in tech. Thx to @ekp for reminding us. Let's not let the conversation end here.
— Chris Sacca (@sacca) March 27, 2015
Sacca, who announced this year that he is retiring from the VC industry, lists four steps he plans on taking to help improve conditions for women, including “to passionately and directly support women and other underrepresented groups in entrepreneurship and venture capital” and to “use the privilege of my voice to strongly advocate for women and other underrepresented groups in tech.”
Caldbeck announced that he was taking a leave of absence after the allegations against him were made public, but has since resigned. Matt Mazzeo, who joined Binary just a few weeks ago – after working with Sacca at Lowercase – has also left the company because of the controversy surrounding the firm, Axios reports.
Binary suspended operations of its two funds this week.
Meanwhile, Binary is now being sued by a former employee for alleged harassment.
Photo: JD Lasica