There has been a lot of discussion in the press about sexual abuse by venture capitalists. As frequent readers of this blog will know, I am not very positive about the venture capital industry which really means I am not very positive about venture capitalists (with some important exceptions). Since I was one of the leaders of Intel Capital, I frequently invested side by side with VCs so my direct experience was never as an entrepreneur looking for money and certainly not as a female entrepreneur. I never thought of myself as a VC and never considered becoming one.
I did a video interview a few years ago about early stage investing. The part about VCs start a bit after the 7th minute.
I invite you to read an excellent post on Medium by Mitch and Freada Kapor.
There is a continuous range of abuse of power. Clearly, saying to someone that if they do not have sex with you, you will not fund them or they will never work in Silicon Valley, is a massive abuse of power. But what about just asking someone over whom you have some power, to have dinner with you because you are alone and bored? How can you make the person you are asking feel comfortable in saying no.
I hope that I never abused the power I had but I would guess that would depend on where you draw the line. Things get really complicated when we are dealing with members of the opposite sex. And being too concerned about how things might look or be interpreted can also have a negative effect. I have mentored many people both male and female. I would hate to have to restrict myself to only helping men. The most important thing we can do to deal with all of this is to have a conversation. I hope you agree.