Silicon Valley Investor Takes Leave of Absence After Harassment Reports

This post was originally published on this site

https://static01.nyt.com/images/2017/12/06/business/06PISHEVAR1/06PISHEVAR1-moth.jpg

SAN FRANCISCO — Shervin Pishevar, a Silicon Valley investor, is taking a leave of absence from his venture capital firm and the boards of several companies he sits on amid reports that he sexually harassed or assaulted five women.

In a statement on Tuesday, Mr. Pishevar said he was taking a leave from Sherpa Capital, the venture firm he co-founded; the transportation company Virgin Hyperloop One, which he also helped found; as well as other company boards.

“This was a decision I came to and proposed on my own accord,” Mr. Pishevar said in the statement.

Mr. Pishevar, 43, is among several technology investors who have been accused of sexual misconduct this year, many of them as part of an investigation conducted this summer by The New York Times. Dave McClure, a venture capitalist at 500 Startups, stepped down from the incubator this year and apologized for his behavior with women, and Steve Jurvetson, another venture capitalist, quit his firm last month after it began an investigation into how he treated women.

The accusations against Mr. Pishevar, which were earlier reported by Bloomberg, follow heightened scrutiny of sexual misconduct in workplaces. After The Times reported on how the Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein had settled numerous cases involving accusations of harassment, a tidal wave of women have come forward to talk about their own experiences. In recent weeks, many prominent men have lost jobs after harassment allegations, including the television hosts Matt Lauer and Charlie Rose.

Interactive Feature | Interested in All Things Tech? The Bits newsletter will keep you updated on the latest from Silicon Valley and the technology industry.

Bloomberg reported that five women had said Mr. Pishevar sexually assaulted or harassed them, often making unwanted advances while offering the prospect of a job or an investment.

In his statement on Tuesday and in a lawsuit filed last month, Mr. Pishevar claimed that any accusations were part of a plot by unnamed and unknown people, whose motives were also not known, to smear him.

Mr. Pishevar was previously a tech entrepreneur and has invested in start-ups in recent years, including Uber. While he is not a household name outside Silicon Valley, he has built connections with powerful figures in Hollywood and politics, including co-hosting fund-raising events for Hillary Clinton last year. He has donated to Democratic politicians including Senators Cory Booker of New Jersey and Kamala Harris of California.

Sherpa Capital is backed by prominent investors including TPG, and it has a partnership, Silicon Foundry, with Silicon Valley Bank, a financial institution that is deeply embedded in the start-up and venture worlds.

“With Shervin’s departure from the board we will continue our Silicon Foundry relationship,” Silicon Valley Bank said in a statement. TPG did not immediately respond to a requests for comment.

After the reports of harassment against Mr. Pishevar surfaced last week, Mr. Booker and Ms. Harris gave the campaign donations they had received from him to charity, their representatives said.