Retired venture capitalist and former “Shark Tank” investor Chris Sacca took to Medium on Friday to publish a long essay apologizing for contributing to Silicon Valley’s sexism problem and committing himself to improving its culture.
As one of the most well-known venture capitalists, Sacca wrote the piece after explosive reports of Binary Capital founder Justin Caldbeck’s harassment targeted at women entrepreneurs. Six women accused Caldbeck of unwanted sexual advances and groping to The Information.
Caldbeck has resigned days after the report was published. His co-founder, Jonathan Teo, offered to resign from Binary Capital.
Just before Binary Capital seized the tech sector’s attention, Uber was dealing with its own sexual harassment behavior. Four months after a blog post by former Uber employee Susan Fowler, which prompted an internal investigation, 20 employees lost their jobs and founder Travis Kalanick resigned from his position.
Sacca apologized repeatedly at contributing to Silicon Valley’s “bleak environment” for women and people of color.
Over the last week, I have spoken with friends, friends of friends, heard from people from my past including stories of how I’d behaved, and read incredibly thoughtful and courageous essays. I’ve learned that it’s often the less obvious, yet pervasive and questionable, everyday behaviors of men in our industry that collectively make it inhospitable for women.
Listening to these stories, and being reminded of my past, I now understand I personally contributed to the problem.
I am sorry.
Sacca, who made his wealth and reputation as an early investor in Twitter, Uber and Instagram among others, said he has been investing in women and people of color founders and their startups to encourage more diversity in the tech sector.
Sacca threw himself in the media spotlight in 2015 when he supported former Reddit CEO Ellen Pao on Twitter after she lost her gender discrimination suit against the powerful venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins.
Verdict aside, we have a deep gender discrimination problem in tech. Thx to @ekp for reminding us. Let's not let the conversation end here.
— Chris Sacca (@sacca) March 27, 2015
“Did I burn a bridge with Kleiner? Undoubtedly,” wrote Sacca. “But, frankly, I could afford to, whereas most entrepreneurs would likely have suffered for the same message.”
In April, Sacca announced he was retiring from venture capital and was going to pursue personal projects. But the 42-old Sacca said he would remain visible in the tech sector. He encouraged all his colleagues in Silicon Valley to fight back against the rooted sexism culture.
“But let’s be abundantly clear, this is not a one time thing,” said Sacca. “It’s a practice. Let’s continually hold each other to higher standards. Let’s become part of the solution by putting our time, energy, voices, and money where our mouths are. Let’s listen and learn to create an industry that is genuinely welcoming to all.”
Photo: Retired venture capitalist Chris Sacca penned an essay on Medium about Silicon Valley’s sexism problem (Flickr/ Loic Le Meur)
Tags: Binary Capital, Chris Sacca, Justin Caldbeck, sexism