Another 500 Startups partner resigns, fed up over sexual harassment scandal

The troubles are multiplying for startup accelerator 500 Startups.

After seeing its co-founder and CEO forced to resign over claims that he sexually harassed women he was supposed to be doing business with, the Bay Area accelerator is losing another partner.

Elizabeth Yin, a serial entrepreneur who joined 500 Startups as an investor in 2014, is resigning effective Friday, TechCrunch reports. She announced her departure in an email this week, apparently frustrated by the sexual harassment scandal and how 500 Startups handled it.

“It’s become clear to me over the last month that I can no longer be part of this organization. The actions that 500 has undertaken have deviated from its mission, and I can no longer continue to represent this organization,” Yin wrote, according to a copy of the email obtained by TechCrunch. “Specifically, I’ve had a lot of sleepless nights and deep frustration with the lack of transparency and several untruths that I believe everyone who chooses to represent 500 should be aware of.”

McClure over the weekend admitted to and apologized for being “a creep,” after a female entrepreneur claimed he hit on her while recruiting her for a possible job at 500 Startups. On Monday a second woman published a blog post claiming that McClure touched her without permission — she wrote he pushed her into a corner and tried to kiss her.

Yin claims that even though McClure stepped down as CEO in May, after 500 Startups was made aware of his inappropriate behavior, staff members were not told about the change until the allegations against him were made public by a New York Times article. She also claims McClure continued to be involved in day-to-day business at the firm, despite his supposed reduced role.

He resigned completely from the firm Monday.

500 Startups denied Yin’s accusations in a statement to TechCrunch, saying: “we took the matter seriously and immediately initiated an internal investigation which resulted in the replacement of Mr. McClure by Christine Tsai as CEO. In May we held a company-wide all hands call and sent an email afterwards that same day notifying the team that Dave had stepped down from day-to-day management of 500.”

Yin also weighed in on a separate sexual harassment scandal that gripped Silicon Valley last week, writing a blog post in response to allegations that Binary Capital founder Justin Caldbeck sexually harassed multiple women (he has since resigned).

In the post Yin urged other women who have been victims of sexual harassment to come forward, and admitted that she regretted not urging her own friends to do so sooner.

“We have a real and undeniable problem here in Silicon Valley with sexual harassment,” she wrote. “While the perpetrators themselves are to blame, the truth is, the rest of us are also part of the problem — myself included.”

SiliconBeat has reached out to 500 Startups about Yin’s departure and will update this post if the firm responds. On Wednesday, Yin’s profile page on the 500 Startups website appeared to be disabled.

Photo: A screen shot of Elizabeth Yin’s LinkedIn profile. 


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