Dave McClure resigns from 500 Startups after sexual harassment investigation

Dave McClure, founding member of 500 Startups, gives a presentation at a San Francisco event in April.
(Don Bartletti / Los Angeles Times)

Dave McClure, the sandals-and-T-shirt-wearing founder of business mentorship program 500 Startups, resigned on Monday from his firm amid allegations of sexual harassment.

McClure was stripped of his chief executive title earlier this year following an internal investigation into his behavior toward women, but that wasn’t made public until the New York Times published entrepreneur Sarah Kunst’s accusations on Friday. Managing partner Christine Tsai will serve as the new CEO.

McClure, a longtime tech worker whose company has helped software firms such as Twilio and Behance, was accused by Kunst of sending an inappropriate message on Facebook.


As she sought a job at 500 Startups in 2014, McClure reportedly wrote to her: “I was getting confused figuring out whether to hire you or hit on you.”

In a blog post published Saturday — titled “I’m a Creep. I’m sorry.” — McClure apologized for making inappropriate advances toward several women in work-related situations, with specific regard to Kunst.

“To all those I let down, and especially to those I directly offended and hurt: I’m very sorry,” he wrote.

McClure’s original plan was to assume a limited role as a general partner, but late Sunday night, Kunst called for his resignation on Twitter — a call soon echoed by others in the industry.

“I fully support and am heartened by founders and investors calls for Dave McClure to resign completely from any role with 500 Startups,” Kunst wrote. “The women hurt by his actions deserve to know that they did not speak up for naught.”

After LaunchVic, an investment arm of an Australian state that partnered with 500 Startups in March, threatened to pull its support on Monday, McClure resigned.


“LaunchVic has put 500 Startups on notice, and will monitor the change in culture,” LaunchVic said in a statement.

In a note published Sunday, Tsai apologized for keeping the investment body in the dark about the allegations surrounding McClure and sending him to Australia on behalf of the company during the internal investigation.

“It is unacceptable 500 Startups hadn’t reported these issues to us, and that Dave McClure was allowed to travel to Australia to represent 500 Startups,” said LaunchVic in its response.

McClure’s departure is the latest in a wave of executives resigning due to sexual harassment accusations — and the second one of the day. It was also announced Monday that Jamie Horowitz, head of Fox Sports programming, had been fired amid a sexual harassment probe. Last month, Uber CEO Travis Kalanick resigned amid a torrent of scandals, and last week, Binary Capital co-founder Justin Caldbeck resigned after six women accused him of sexual harassment.

Times staff writer Paresh Dave contributed to this report.


Twitter: @jflem94


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