A report by the Information today levied allegations of unwanted advances against Justin Caldbeck, a “well-connected” cofounder and partner at Silicon Valley VC firm Binary Capital. Six women who have previously consulted with Caldbeck in some capacity—be it for funding or advice while starting a business—told the Information he had behaved inappropriately with them. The women making the accusations include Google alum and former Minted CTO Niniane Wang and Susan Ho and Leiti Hsu, who cofounded travel concierge service Journy. From the story:
Ms. Wang alleges Mr. Caldbeck, while informally trying to recruit her for a tech company job, tried to sleep with her. Ms. Ho said that Mr. Caldbeck, while discussing investing in their startup, sent her text messages in the middle of the night suggesting they meet up. Ms. Hsu says that Mr. Caldbeck groped her under a table at a Manhattan hotel bar.
The other women, who chose to remain anonymous, reportedly had similar accounts. Binary denied the allegations altogether:
Binary issued a statement that said the notion Mr. Caldbeck had “engaged in improper behavior with female entrepreneurs” was “false.” Binary said that while the Information had “found a few examples that show that Justin has in the past occasionally dated or flirted with women he met in a professional capacity, let’s be clear: There is no evidence that Justin did anything illegal, and there is no evidence that any of his investing decisions were affected by his social interests.
If you’ve been paying attention, none of this—the allegations or Binary’s flippant response—is remotely surprising. The Information spoke to a number of women in tech who said they had similar encounters with other VCs, and they felt it was part of the reason female founders were underrepresented in tech. What’s worse is that sexual harassment laws meant to protect employees don’t apply to the VC-founder relationship. Read the full report here.
Update: Binary gave Fast Company the following statement from Caldbeck:
“Obviously, I am deeply disturbed by these allegations. While significant context is missing from the incidents reported by The Information, I deeply regret ever causing anyone to feel uncomfortable. The fact is that I have been privileged to have worked with female entrepreneurs throughout my career and I sincerely apologize to anyone who I made uncomfortable by my actions. There’s no denying this is an issue in the venture community, and I hate that my behavior has contributed to it.”