Venture has seen more than its fair share of shame in the past few days. We have, for example, watched Binary Capital collapse following revelations of despicable misogynist behavior by one of its partners and craven cover up by the other. We have seen a venture stalwart, Dave McClure of 500 Startups, resign after accusations of sexual harassment. And, recently retired early stage investment luminary Chris Sacca has issued a public apology for inappropriate behavior toward women he met through his investments. Marc Cantor, a long-time tech entrepreneur, has also apologized for inappropriate actions toward women.
This crisis of concupiscence has provoked a torrent of apologies, cries for decency pledges and freshets of posts and tweets. While all this verbiage is fine, we find it all a fundamentally empty response to deep problems. Mere words are so easy and accomplish so little.
Rather, we will let our actions speak for us. As grown ups, the men and women of our team have treated and will continue to treat every entrepreneur with respect and kindness. We will continue to judge each company on its own merits and each CEO on her or his own abilities.
We won’t promise to seek more female founders because we have already been doing all we can for years to find them and fund them. We don’t just accept females as entrepreneurs, we celebrate them. Start up success, for us, is entirely about talent, character and drive, the specifics of markets, customers, competitors and unique solutions, not gender or any other element of origin.
In terms of the octopus-armed, thug-boy behavior we have been reading about, we reject it utterly, but we understand its origins. Sadly, there is a broad history of small men with big power using it for fear and domination.
We believe none of us should countenance exploitation of advantage anywhere in our presence: not from our teams, co-investors, friends, even casual connections. Most critically, we should be exemplars of the truth that one does well by acting well. Being a leering frat boy has nothing to do with investment success, quite the contrary.
Success, we believe, comes from working hard, being fair, hewing to a personal and organizational morality. We believe investors must strive always for truth, transparency and kindness when dealing with the hopes and dreams of entrepreneurs.
Our behavior is what should mark us in society in all things. Words alone are not sufficient.