Steve Jurvetson Quits Venture Capital Firm Amid Sexual Harassment Inquiry

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Steve Jurvetson, a founding partner of one of the best-known venture capital firms in Silicon Valley and a board member of Tesla and SpaceX, is leaving the firm after it began an investigation into his behavior with women, the firm told investors on Monday.

“As of today and by mutual agreement, Steve Jurvetson will be leaving DFJ,” said a confidential letter sent to investors in the venture capital firm, Draper Fisher Jurvetson, and obtained by The New York Times.

It continued, “DFJ’s culture has been, and will continue to be, built on the values of respect and integrity in all of our interactions.”

The firm’s spokeswoman, Carol Wentworth, confirmed his departure, and a Tesla spokeswoman said he is taking a leave of absence from the Tesla and SpaceX boards “pending resolution of these allegations.” Last month, the firm said it became aware of “indirect and secondhand allegations” about Mr. Jurvetson and was looking into them. The acknowledgment came after Keri Kukral, a tech entrepreneur, wrote on Facebook: “Women approached by a founding partner of Draper Fisher Jurvetson should be careful. Predatory behavior is rampant.”

Heidi Roizen, an operating partner at DFJ, defended the firm last month. “I don’t need an investigation to state with certainty that this is patently wrong,” she wrote in a Tumblr post. She added that the firm had never received an official allegation of misconduct.

The inquiry is still going on. The firm did not say what in particular it was investigating, or comment on the timing of Mr. Jurvetson’s departure.

On Monday, he wrote on Twitter, “I am leaving DFJ to focus on personal matters, including taking legal action against those whose false statements have defamed me.”

Mr. Jurvetson has been a fixture in Silicon Valley. He was an early investor in Hotmail and other successful companies, and is seen about town with tech celebrities like Elon Musk and the cast of “Silicon Valley.”

His departure shows how allegations of sexual misconduct have continued to reverberate since detailed reports emerged over the summer about widespread sexual harassment of female entrepreneurs by venture investors. In Silicon Valley, the power dynamic is particularly stark.

Venture capitalists, who are almost all men, hold an extraordinary amount of power, controlling the money that start-up entrepreneurs need to try to turn their idea into the next billion-dollar company. The system largely runs on reputation and word of mouth. Venture capital firms generally have no human resources officials, and entrepreneurs are not employees of the investors.

Several high-profile men in the industry have stepped down from their jobs after harassment allegations, including Dave McClure, who founded the start-up incubator 500 Start-ups, and Tom Frangione, the chief operating officer of one of the oldest venture capital firms, Greylock Partners. Several other men issued apologies, sometimes while denying allegations of misconduct at the same time.

As more women in the technology and venture capital industries have come forward to discuss episodes of harassment and discrimination, some prominent women in venture capital have created a group called Female Founder Office Hours, which aims to pair female entrepreneurs with successful women in venture capital who can offer advice and support as they found companies.

“Creating more successful women in tech is a huge part of what needs to happen for the industry to change,” said Jess Lee, a partner at Sequoia Capital.

The venture industry’s trade association, the National Venture Capital Association, began a monthslong listening tour with founders and investors. In an interview in August, Bobby Franklin, the president of the association, said that he was spending more time on the harassment issue than anything else. “I’ve called for the first time in my four-year tenure a special board meeting to discuss this,” he said.