The latest development on the Justin Caldbeck sexual harassment allegations offers more proof of how pervasive the problem is in VC. According to an old thread on a now-defunct Secret.ly app obtained by The Daily Beast, Silicon Valley knew about sexual harassment allegations against Caldbeck for years. Here's an excerpt from the article:
"Which male VCs tend to hit on female founders and trick them into dates?" a user on the anonymous app Secret.ly asked in August 2014. "I want to know who not to work with."
The thread, discovered by The Daily Beast on Tuesday, disappeared when the Secret.ly app went out of business in 2015. But while active, the post quickly attracted over 200 comments, attracting the attention of technology publications and startup message boards, where users repeated the anonymous allegations of sexual harassment by venture capitalists including "Justin Caldbeck."
Turns out the sexual harassment allegations against former Binary Capital partner Caldbeck, who left his post this week, date back to when he was still at VC firm Lightspeed Ventures Partners, where he worked prior to cofounding Binary.
3/ In response, we removed him as a board observer at the request of that company.— Lightspeed (@lightspeedvp) June 27, 2017
4/ In light of what we have learned since, we regret we did not take stronger action. It is clear now that we should have done more.— Lightspeed (@lightspeedvp) June 27, 2017
Talk about an understatement. According to Axios, Lightspeed actively tried to bury the allegations against Caldbeck by asking the person who made the accusation—Stitch Fix founder Katrina Lake—to sign a non-disparagement agreement. (Axios obtained a copy of the agreement.) To make matters worse, Caldbeck's cofounder at Binary, Jonathan Teo, chose to work with him despite being aware of the allegations, as he revealed on Facebook:
"When I chose to work with him to form Binary, I told him in no uncertain terms that no bad behavior was ever going to be tolerated at Binary . . . I made a big mistake in that from a professional context . . . In the second year of our partnership, I had learned of some bad behavior from my partner, but it was evidenced to me that it happened prior to his time at Binary. And I kept my word that his past is the past and I would put it behind me."
[Photo: Denys Argyriou]