What Silicon Valley tech VCs get wrong about consumer investing

Tech Hub food hall Once I started fundraising for CircleUp six years in the past, I encountered many buyers whose eyes would glaze over once I talked about “client.” These buyers would fidget uncomfortably or drop their gaze once I defined that our platform would solely present capital to small CPG firms. I’d typically hear the skeptical feedback, reminiscent of, “an vitality bar firm can’t… Read More

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Silicon Valley Punished Some Badly Behaved Men In 2017. Now, It Needs To Fix Its Broken Culture.

Rose Wong for BuzzFeed Information

As exhausting as it’s to consider now, on Feb. 19, when Susan Fowler revealed a lengthy personal blog post about being discriminated towards and harassed at Uber, it initially appeared like the corporate would be capable of rapidly handle the allegations and transfer on.

On the time, Uber CEO Travis Kalanick released a statement saying, “what she describes is abhorrent and towards all the pieces Uber stands for and believes in.” He additionally mentioned that Fowler's put up was the primary time he'd heard these allegations. A couple of days later, although, feminine staff at Uber told Kalanick that the corporate had a “systemic” drawback with harassment — a cost later denied by board member Arianna Huffington when she advised CNN that Uber didn’t have a “systemic drawback” with sexism and harassment. It appeared then like Uber was going to stick to the previous Silicon Valley playbook: attempt to painting the issue as an remoted incident and deny the necessity for broader change.

After all, Fowler’s put up in the end led to greater than 200 women coming forward with their own allegations, an investigation into Uber's tradition led by former attorney general Eric Holder, and Kalanick’s resignation. However for a time, the reckoning at Uber didn't essentially portend a broader shift in tech. It appeared just like the narrative was that Kalanick was a “dangerous boy,” and Uber was only a firm gone awry; it didn't look like others have been taking a tough take a look at themselves. In spite of everything, the business has lengthy had a popularity as a boys' membership — enterprise capital is predominantly male, startups' boards are predominantly male, and startup staff, notably in engineering, are overwhelmingly male — and for some time, it wasn't clear whether or not different girls would come ahead with their tales of harassment and discrimination.

It was not exhausting to take a look at what occurred to Ellen Pao in 2015, after she introduced a lawsuit towards outstanding enterprise capital agency Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers for gender discrimination and concluded that coming ahead publicly was simply not value it. Pao, a former KPCB junior accomplice, noticed her claims rejected in courtroom in March of that yr and misplaced her case, sending a really public sign that for ladies to go up towards the highly effective forces of Silicon Valley was dangerous at finest and profession ending at worst.

And in contrast to lots of those that have spoken out towards Harvey Weinstein and different figures within the leisure business, girls in Silicon Valley should not family names. Within the largely off-the-record conversations that I've had with girls within the business, they virtually at all times have weighed the prices of going public with allegations of discrimination and harassment and determined that it wasn't value it. Even when they received within the courtroom of public opinion, they may very well be blackballed from the business.

However slowly, even in tech, issues began to vary this yr. After Fowler, a big turning level got here in June, when women spoke out about former Binary Capital accomplice Justin Caldbeck. The ladies — a few of whom had labored with Caldbeck and a few of whom had met him within the context of searching for VC funding from him — had comparable tales of Caldbeck pressuring them to sleep with him. Caldbeck was subsequently pressured to resign, and the incident led to extra girls talking out towards undesirable advances from enterprise capitalists in the middle of searching for funding.

Within the meantime, lower than two months after Caldbeck resigned, former Google engineer James Damore circulated a memo internally at Google that partly laid out his reasoning about why girls have been inferior engineers, titled “Google's Ideological Echo Chamber.” A memo that previously could have been ignored was seized upon as one more signal of the tech business's misogyny, and Damore was fired.

As with many industries, although, the revelations about Harvey Weinstein in October and the next #MeToo motion have been what pressured the tech business to reckon with harassment and discrimination. Girls grew to become emboldened about coming ahead and corporations grew to become much less involved about defending high-performing staff who had allegations of harassment leveled towards them. In mid October, a few weeks after the New York Instances' first story about Weinstein ran, Quinn Norton revealed an essay on Medium saying that she had been sexually assaulted by the tech evangelist Robert Scoble; subsequently, extra girls came forward. Scoble is now not a part of the corporate he based together with his longtime collaborator Shel Israel and has not spoken at a tech convention for the reason that allegations first emerged.

Firms are additionally turning into extra proactive about launching their very own inner investigations earlier than information of dangerous habits will get into the press. Former Draper Fisher Jurvetson accomplice Steve Jurvetson left the agency the place he had labored for 22 years in November, after an inner investigation uncovered what Recode described as “behaviors by Jurvetson that have been unacceptable associated to a detrimental tone towards girls entrepreneurs.”

Final week, enterprise capitalist Shervin Pishevar resigned from Sherpa Capital, the agency he cofounded in 2013, after 5 girls told Bloomberg he had sexually harassed them. Pishevar has filed defamation lawsuits towards a political opposition analysis group that he says has focused him for a “smear marketing campaign.” Pishevar had initially been positioned on a go away of absence.

And now, it's beginning to look like dangerous habits is catching up with individuals in an business the place being a 'dangerous boy' (irrespective of how previous you have been) was thought of a badge of honor. The founders of HQ, the favored quiz app, are mentioned to be having issue getting funding partly as a result of one of many founders has a popularity “for exhibiting inappropriate habits towards girls,” according to Recode.

After all, the founders of HQ might very properly find yourself getting funding. Within the meantime, this is also a straightforward manner for individuals who weren't planning to fund them to advantage sign that they're taking harassment allegations critically. In spite of everything, it's a lot simpler to denounce just a few dangerous apples than to handle structural inequality. (Simply take a look at how hard Google is fighting to keep away from releasing its wage information — although Google staff have independently collected data that exhibits that ladies are paid lower than males.) And it stays to be seen whether or not these accused of sexual misconduct, like Pishevar, Scoble, Jurvetson, and many others., will quietly return to the business after a interval of exile — and in the event that they do, if anybody will care. Already, enterprise capitalist Chris Sacca, who was accused of inappropriately touching a feminine entrepreneur and wrote a Medium post apologizing for “contributing to tech's tradition of harassment,” was invited back to speak at main convention Dreamforce in November.

However there are some indicators that the business may be beginning to change, nevertheless reluctantly. This week, Microsoft announced that it had ended arbitration agreements with staff who made sexual harassment allegations (after dodging questions from BuzzFeed Information in November), and that it could help a federal regulation banning these sorts of agreements.

Now it's as much as everybody else to comply with swimsuit.

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SIlicon Valley Investor Shervin Pishevar Accused Of Spreading False Information To Cover Up Alleged Sexual Misconduct

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Enterprise capitalist Shervin Pishevar, who has been accused by a number of unnamed girls of sexual misconduct in a latest information report, is now being accused by a Republican-affiliated opposition analysis agency of spreading false details about it in an try to cowl up his alleged wrongdoings.

In a weird twist on Wednesday, Definers Public Affairs — which Pishevar is suing for allegedly serving to to unfold a false police report that accuses him of rape — filed a movement to dismiss the investor’s swimsuit in full. That movement, made in San Francisco Superior Courtroom, argues that Pishevar’s lawsuit ought to be thrown out beneath California’s anti-Strategic Lawsuit Towards Public Participation (anti-SLAPP) legislation, which was designed to forestall litigation that’s merely meant to silence or intimidate critics by burying them beneath authorized prices.

Pishevar “filed the lawsuit earlier than reporters printed their tales, undoubtedly hoping his lawsuit would intimidate girls and the press from revealing studies of alleged sexual misconduct and harassment,” the movement argues.

“Mr. Pishevar now seeks to make use of the American courts to proceed his effort to stifle studies of his alleged misconduct.”

Final week, Bloomberg Information reported that Pishevar sexually harassed five unnamed women, who had agreed to make use of their names within the story, however then retracted their permission after studying about Pishevar’s lawsuit and authorized techniques. Pishevar initially sued Definers in November, following the publication of tales in a number of shops about an alleged rape that occurred in London in Might. In that swimsuit, the investor accused Definers of disseminating false details about the London incident. A police doc, which some shops used to report on the incident, was later discovered to have incorrect info, although Pishevar has by no means denied that the occasion occurred.

“Mr. Pishevar now seeks to make use of the American courts to proceed his effort to stifle studies of his alleged misconduct,” the movement reads. “However as a substitute of suing any press outlet immediately, he has opted for a diversionary tactic: by concentrating on a PR agency with two founders who previously labored on Republican campaigns, he hopes to create a false narrative of ‘Republicans vs. Democrats’ as a smokescreen.”

Pishevar was a big contributor to Democratic politicians. On Monday, Bloomberg reported that Democratic senators Cory Booker and Kamala Harris, who acquired marketing campaign funds from the enterprise capitalist, have donated that cash to charity.

Mark Fabiani, a spokesperson for Pishevar, declined to remark. On Tuesday, Pishevar took a go away of absence from his enterprise fund Sherpa Capital and Virgin Hyperloop One, the place he’s coexecutive chairman.

“I’ve determined to take a direct go away of absence from my duties at Sherpa Capital and Virgin Hyperloop One, in addition to my portfolio firm board tasks, in order that I can pursue the prosecution of my lawsuit, the place I’m assured I might be vindicated,” Pishevar mentioned in an announcement on Tuesday. “By way of the invention course of, I hope to unearth who fabricated the fraudulent London ‘police report,’ and who’s chargeable for spreading false rumors about me.”

In its movement, Definers says it searched by way of emails and paperwork and confirmed that they’d no information of labor associated to Pishevar earlier than it was sued. The movement argues that Pishevar filed his swimsuit towards Definers with the intention to presumably stem future tales about him — such because the Bloomberg piece that was printed final week — and asks the courtroom to compel the investor to pay for the agency’s incurred authorized prices. “As a result of Mr. Pishevar can’t presumably produce any proof to substantiate his claims — once more, as a result of Defendants have actually nothing to do with the allegations — his claims have to be dismissed,” reads the submitting.

A supply near the agency mentioned that it might not be pursuing additional authorized motion towards Pishevar for now.

“We’re assured that the courtroom will see by way of his technique of submitting deceitful lawsuits to intimidate girls from coming ahead,” mentioned Tim Miller, a associate Definers Public Affairs, in an announcement.

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Silicon Valley could be the next hotspot for SEC whistleblowers

 In recent times, the SEC has had higher success policing wrongdoing due largely to the implementation of its whistleblower program. However the whistleblowers’ crosshairs aren’t restricted to Wall Road. People are starting to come back ahead in a brand new sphere of the enterprise world, one with its personal popularity of a problematic, win-at-all-cost tradition: Silicon Valley. Read More

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Why Freada Kapor Klein thinks there’s a moral crisis in Silicon Valley

 Each week, it appears, brings new moral questions on Silicon Valley. A seemingly countless rash of sexual scandals within the enterprise neighborhood. Twitter supposedly utilized by nameless Russian trolls to rig the American election. A straight-faced Mark Zuckerberg denying Fb has an issue with pretend information. Uber banned in London and vilified in every single place else. Google responsible of… Read More

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Goodbye Juicero, Silicon Valley's Favorite $400 Juicer


There's nothing left to squeeze out of Juicero.

On Friday, the lavishly funded Silicon Valley startup said it was taking place the drain, suspending gross sales of its Juicero Press and Produce Packs instantly. Not will it promote its $400 (initially $700) machine that spit out eight-ounce glasses of juice as long as your Wi-Fi was working. As a substitute, it can seek for an acquirer to “carry ahead the Juicero mission.”

Juicero's announcement that it was in search of a purchaser was a disappointment to everybody who believed the way forward for vitamin lay in 5 flavors of particular person juice packs, delivered weekly. It was additionally a blow to those that lacked the energy to squeeze them with their bare hands.

“Not all juice is equal. How do you measure life power? How do you measure chi?”

Juicero's supporters included among the valley's highest-profile enterprise capital companies, from Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byers to Joshua Kushner's Thrive Capital to GV (previously Google Ventures), large firms like Campbell Soup, and different traders who poured practically $120 million into the enterprise earlier than it launched in March 2016. They believed that it might faucet into time-pressed customers' obsession with wellness and recent produce.

It was a technique that gained over some high-profile followers like Ivanka Trump.

Juicero's most fervent believer was its CEO, Doug Evans, who got here up with the concept after discovering flaws with each juicer available on the market. “It didn’t have the magic that I used to be accustomed to,” he has said of them. “Not all juice is equal,” he has additionally mentioned. “How do you measure life power? How do you measure chi?”

Prior to now, Evans, who's currently attending Burning Man with his fire-breathing bike, likened his product growth course of to that of Steve Jobs. “I mentioned, 'I'm going to do what Steve did,'” he recounted to Recode. “'I'm going to take the mainframe laptop and create a private laptop. I'm going to take a mainframe juice press and I'm going to create a private juice press,' and my authentic design was presupposed to be straightforward to scrub.”

Sadly, Juicero's lifespan — with out an acquirer — appears to be barely shorter than Apple's. The corporate says it can provide refunds for the following 90 days.

So lengthy, Juicero.

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