SpaceX and Tesla board member Steve Jurvetson is leaving his namesake venture capital firm Draper Fisher Jurvetson (DFJ) amid allegations of sexual harassment. Jurvetson, a prominent Silicon Valley venture capitalist, left the firm on Monday (13 November) after it opened an independent investigation into claims of misconduct that it became aware of this summer.
"As of today and by mutual agreement, Steve Jurvetson will be leaving DFJ," the company said in a statement. "DFJ's culture has been, and will continue to be, built on the values of respect and integrity in all of our interactions. We are focused on the success of our portfolio companies, as well as the long-term vision for the firm and will continue to operate with the highest professional standards."
The company did not specify the reason for his leaving. Citing sources, Recode reported that the ongoing investigation unearthed alleged behaviour by Jurvetson that was "unacceptable" and "related to a negative tone toward women entrepreneurs".
Jurvetson is also on a leave of absence from the SpaceX and Tesla boards "pending resolution of these allegations", a Tesla spokesperson said. He joined Tesla's board back in 2006 and that of SpaceX in 2009.
The 50-year-old high-profile investor took to Twitter to announce his exit from DFJ saying he intends to focus on "personal matters" and take legal action against those who allegedly made false statements against him.
"I am leaving DFJ to focus on personal matters, including taking legal action against those whose false statements have defamed me," Jurvetson tweeted.
In late October, Keri Kukral, a female entrepreneur, wrote in a Facebook post that "women approached by a founding partner of Draper Fisher Jurvetson should be careful".
"Predatory behaviour is rampant," she wrote. "The modes are varied. Silencing behaviour ranges from security w/in the firm creating files on women, to potential violations of revenge porn laws, to threats. I have experienced some of these things (not all)."
Kukral did not name Jurvetson specifically in her post. At the time, DFJ responded saying it never received any complaints from partners or investors.
"Earlier this summer we became aware of indirect and secondhand allegations about one partner, Steve Jurvetson," a DFJ spokeswoman said last month. "We immediately opened an independent investigation, which is ongoing at this time."
Kukral later said on Facebook that she was contacted by a DFJ attorney regarding an internal investigation.
One of the firm's partners, Heidi Roizen, wrote in a blog post titled "The Truth about DFJ" denying that the company had a "predatory" culture towards women.
"I don't need an investigation to state with certainty that this is patently wrong," she wrote. "We heard about allegations of misconduct by one (and only one) of our partners from a third party. We felt the responsible thing to do was to launch an independent investigation, and so we did.
"I am too grizzled and old to write bullshit about a company to please my boss. I'm writing this because I believe it to be true. I value my own personal reputation and integrity above any firm, and simply put, I would not work for DFJ if I felt the culture was not one of high integrity and opportunity for all — including women. Including me."
Several other prominent venture capitalists and figures in Silicon Valley have been accused of sexual harassment or misbehaviour in the workplace including 500 Startups' Dave McClure, Binary Capital's Justin Caldbeck, Lowercase Capital's Chris Sacca and prominent tech blogger Robert Scoble. Amazon Studios boss Roy Price also resigned following allegations of sexual harassment.
Over the past few months, many women have come forward to voice their experiences and complaints of sexual harassment and sexism in Silicon Valley, Hollywood, politics and nearly every other industry after the bombshell catalogue of allegations against producer Harvey Weinstein.
Earlier this year, former Uber engineer Susan Fowler published a chilling account of her experience of alleged sexual harassment, sexism and toxic work culture at the ride-hailing firm. The viral post triggered an investigation that led to the firing of more than 20 people, including senior executives, and eventually the ousting of CEO and founder Travis Kalanick.