The women of DFJ push back on claims that “predatory behavior” is rampant

Several women who either work at venture firm DFJ or have worked for the 30-year-old outfit in the past are pushing back against new allegations that founders should be wary of approaching the firm owing to “predatory behavior” that is “rampant.”

Yesterday, The Information reported that Steve Jurvetson, a cofounder of DFJ, is being investigated for sexual harassment, as told to it by the Menlo Park-based firm. It says it launched an investigation in August after rumors began swirling about him.

Said longtime DFJ employee Carol Wentworth to the outlet, “[E]arly this summer we became aware of indirect and secondhand allegations about Steve Jurvetson and we immediately opened an independent investigation, which is ongoing at this time,” she added.

Asked for comment earlier today, Wentworth would only share the same statement.

It isn’t clear if the investigation is tied to Keri Kukral, founder of a company called Raw Science. But she wrote on Tuesday on Facebook post that “women approached by founding partners of Draper Fisher Jurvetson should be careful. Predatory behavior is rampant.” She added that “silencing behavior ranges from security w/in the firm creating files on women, to potential violations of revenge porn laws, to grotesque threats.”

Kukral also wrote, somewhat cryptically, that “women have been banned by heads of TED from attending conferences. I have experienced some (not all) of these things along with many others. The situation I found myself in is personally atypical and I’ve not been in any other situation remotely like it. I was not seeking investment or trying to further my career. My investment rounds have occurred entirely outside of Silicon Valley both before and after this experience. I will not step foot in SV for investment.”

Kukral had a personal relationship with Jurvetson, a source tells The Information. Kukral had added in subsequent comments to her post that her experience was not in a professional context.

The founding partners of DFJ are Tim Draper, who left the firm two years ago, Steve Jurvetson, and John Fisher, who remains on DFJ’s growth team.

In the meantime, writing on her personal site this morning, Heidi Roizen, who has been a partner with the firm since early 2012, doesn’t mince words, saying that “[S]imply put, I would not work for DFJ if I felt the culture was not one of high integrity and opportunity for all — including women.  Including me.”

Two other women, Annie Hazlehurst, a former DFJ employee who today runs her own science and software-focused venture firm in New York, have also weighed in, along with another former DFJ employee named Courtney McColgan who is today the cofounder and CEO of Runa, a Mexico City-based HR software startup.

Writing on Medium, the women say that while they’ve both sexism “on a daily basis in many forms and forums,” neither “encountered it at DFJ or working with Steve Jurvetson.” Instead, they continue, “The fact that we are in leadership positions in the industry today is a testament to Steve and DFJ cultivating an environment where women advance professionally. DFJ thrives on intellectual curiosity and collaboration. Our contributions were respected from partner meetings to board rooms. Our accomplishments yielded promotions and long term career tracks. And Steve was always our strongest professional champion, nominating us to speak at conferences, sit on boards and represent DFJ around the world.”

Roizen was less protective of Jurvetson specifically in her post, writing that this past summer, “we heard about allegations of misconduct by one (and only one) of our partners from a third party.  We felt the responsible thing to do was to launch an independent investigation, and so we did.  It is still ongoing.” She said that she doesn’t “need an investigation to state with certainty that” claims about predatory behavior at the firm is “patently wrong.

“I am too grizzled and old to write bullshit about a company to please my boss.  I’m writing this because I believe it to be true,” added Roizen.

We sat down last month with Jurvetson at our TechCrunch Disrupt event.

Jurvetson is not talking about the investigation with the press, per the firm. We’ve also reached out to Kukral; we have yet to hear from her but hope to have more on this story soon.

Published at Thu, 26 Oct 2017 18:32:30 +0000