Avram's Past / Venture Capital

Venture Capital and Sexual Abuse


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. 

 http://avram.tv/afer-intel/bob-cringley-interview-on.html

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.

 

2 thoughts on “Venture Capital and Sexual Abuse

  1. Avram,

    Thank you for always being thoughtful and an ally to me. Sexual abuse is a problem that won’t go away until we have those conversations. Difficult as they could be. It would be horrible for the progression of women in the workplace, to not be able to have male mentors. Women are tougher on each other, we are culturally conditioned to this until we become aware of it. Many don’t become conscious of it.

    Sometimes the subtle victimization is harder. It’s when the board needs someone to blame, and the new female on the team is the best approach. Even if she never had any say in what actually was done. I once had a board learn my name because I wasn’t afraid to call bullshit on what they had done, and I’m sure that my name is a bad word to them all. So many women just shrug their shoulders at the bro culture. Women’s voices have been drowned out for so long, that’s its time to stop negating them. We do that effortlessly in the valley. Whether it is by saying something is a bad idea until a male associate repeats the idea, or when you don’t get invited to have drinks with the team because you aren’t male. As you know many deals happen outside of the office; the bar, the retreat, or if you are lucky enough at the Allen Conference.

    I have done a lot of work in Sports, and I use to think that this segment is the worst for women, but after being in Silicon Valley for awhile, I’m not so sure. Talk to women who have worked at Kleiner or other top VC’s. Women are not amongst the ranks, and it has nothing to do with talent. Many start-ups can’t even get into the VC world to be evaluated for funding. I wrote a blog recently about how China is going to kick our ass on this issue because in that country, women leaders are respected and revered from work experience. Here, women and work experience are not revered, they are considered “aged out’.

    I too hope we have those conversations. Welcome back.

    Michealene

    Like

  2. As the father of a talented young woman who is about to enter the engineering side of Silicon Valley, I am especially worried after reading the latest press. I also find it upsetting that our President could do so much to help women in every industry, but of course we elected the worst man possible for that role. Fortunately, there are good role models like you, Avram.

    Like

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