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Steve Jurvetson is out at his own VC firm after allegations of sexual harassment (recode.net)
151 points by heshamg 10 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 174 comments



Following these very visible and high profile falls from grace, in politics, media and entertainment, and high tech, there must be some legitimate concerns that in the near future the Billy Graham rule [1] (or lately called the Graham-Pence rule) will find more followers than before.

Many men in power will instinctually and subconsciously cut out women from their professional lives more than before, to the detriment of women's career advancement. Polls [2] suggest that this isn't a rare position even today. Mitigating this next challenge should be part of the current successful campaign that women and allies of women have been waging today, since even though to some it will be clear that basic attitudes of respect and professional distance will suffice, many others will make a fear-driven overreaction.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Billy_Graham_rule

[2] https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/01/upshot/members-of-the-opp...


I know this might not be a popular opinion. But I've basically instituted a modified version of this rule for myself.

Billy Graham and Mike Pence are definitely not a fountain a good ideas, but that doesn't mean this rule is that bad, despite the nonsense place it comes from.

Whenever I need to have after work dinner/social communication with a female associate after 5:00pm, I just go out of my way to invite another woman so she won't be alone. If that is not an option I will try to make it a bigger group with men and women. I never shut the door to my office when I am with a woman. If we need to have a private conversation, we do walking meetings around the block in public areas.

This may be shutting some women out of the intense bonding that some male colleges have, but I'm not interested in friendships with men from work either, so I don't think I'm being unfair to anyone.

I also don't stand too close to women. I don't ever comment on their physical appearance even if they got a great hair cut. And I don't need to hug anyone I work with ever.

Maybe this makes me a jerk. But I feel like it keeps the relationships I care about most (those with my family) safe.


> Maybe this makes me a jerk. But I feel like it keeps the relationships I care about most (those with my family) safe.

Don't be so negative. They do the same things in Boy Scouts now for the same reasons. The net result is a safer environment for leadership and children alike.


I dunno if I’d say that makes you a jerk, but it strikes me as maybe a little overcautious. As with any security/safety issue, I think it comes down to the threat model you’re using. What’s the attack vector you’re protecting against? How likely is it that any attempt on that vector will succeed? What’s the damage if it succeeds? Speaking for myself, it never seems like I need to go too far out of my normal mode in order to keep the whole threat model in check.


The threat model is an accusation. You are toast if you even get one accusation because it is cheaper to just get rid of you even if you are innocent.

Frankly, I think he is not being cautious enough because the term "sexual harassment" has also moved into the realm of disagreement. Maybe you don't like her work and criticize it or maybe you are her boss and not agreeing with her performance. Most women quickly figure the criticism is being levied because he is overtly professional with them and also because they are women. I have had many women come to me and tell me these stories with this line of reasoning.

Most women aren't like this but the threat model the OP is using is legitimate. In 2017, if you get accused, you are done. Your family is done. Just move to Bermuda and retire. It is not something you can recover from.

> we do walking meetings around the block in public areas.

Please don't do this.


Yes, accusations were what I had in mind when I framed it as “threat model” in the question.

    it is cheaper to just get rid of you even
    if you are innocent
Is it? One clearly has some value to their employer. Replacing an employee isn’t free either. It’s also not “free” to add social friction to interactions with one's coworkers.

As best I know, this has never happened to anyone in / near my social network. That leads me to believe that this isn’t something that happens very often in the general population (unless I’m an outlier). And if it’s so rare, then it doesn’t seem to be worth going out of my way for.


Are you confident that you have enough value to your employer that they would be willing to write into your contract that you cannot be fired for a harassment claim until it has been proven in court (as Bill O'Reilly had[1])? I would guess not, and there are few people at any given company that could say that.

[1]https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-11-08/o-reilly-...


As best I know, this has never happened to anyone in / near my social network. That leads me to believe that this isn’t something that happens very often in the general population (unless I’m an outlier). And if it’s so rare, then it doesn’t seem to be worth going out of my way for.

This works till it doesn't. All it takes is once.

Raw statistics are worth internalizing, but in an era where a slip of the tongue is enough to hang you (socially), it's worth being overcautious.


Say you have an employee who is being considered for management. They allegedly said some pretty nasty things to another employee. When you interview their colleagues no one will corroborate the story. Do you think they will still seriously be considered for management? Nope.


There are plenty of people who have become managers after verifiably saying nasty things to other employees.


> You are toast if you even get one accusation

Except that's not what we're seeing; we're seeing one spiral into historical many. It's not a witch hunt, it's a reckoning.


Exactly what happened to a buddy of mine. Super fast tracker at wall street investment bank. female junior analyst could not cut it in the 80 hour work week, rough and tumble world. One month before review season, she cries "harrassment". he gets whacked, she survived another few months until the employer finally came around to understand she was sub-par. Could have ruined a career if he wasn't such a superstar and bounced back hugely. Story could have been a lot worse for him. Don't work with, hire, or mentor women is the message being clearly sent.


> we do walking meetings around the block in public areas.

>> Please don't do this.

Can you please explain? Walking meetings are quite popular in my network. I thought this is a pretty safe trend.


Not cautious enough?


I don't understand why you think it makes you a jerk, most of what you said I'd simply include simply under "being professional."


I don't understand why people hug their co workers. That sounds weird. But some of the things on the list are ridiculous.

I'm socially awkward and I still don't have problems having a closed door conversation with a member of the opposite sex. Are you just going to pass on interviewing women because that puts the two of you in a room?


In my position if I have to interview a woman (or any candidate), I can talk to her with my team present.

Maybe it would be different if I was the CEO hiring for an executive position, and then I would make an exception. But for white boarding? Even if it were 1 on 1, I don't understand the need to have the door shut.

Privacy makes me uncomfortable anytime in a work environment. I like my home life private, but I'm fine having my work place conversations overheard by others.


Yeah, that's the only thing on the list that I thought was weird, that's why I said "most." The closed door meetings in all these sexual misconduct stories were really, really egregious and would be easily avoided.

Everything else is just being professional.


I used to be socially awkward, terribly so, and I was never ever afraid of being in a closed room with a woman, because even at the height of my awkwardness I certainly wouldn't 1) make sexist remarks or jokes, 2) stare at her body or, 3) flirt.

People might've known me as a weirdo who stuttered or referred to Star Trek too much, but no one would ever think of me as inappropriate, simply because I never was, not even close.


Frankly, if the power difference is too great, it's not ethically safe to go into a room alone.

Alone in a room with Putin/Duterte in their homefields, and God knows to what you'd agree. If they coerce you, you might not be believed and, besides, they could have you killed.

Never walk into a room, alone with a dictator.

Or, if you're an 18yo store clerk for American Apparel, never do so w/ the CEO of your company.

And it's unethical to ask a subordinate to expose themselves by joining you, the authority, in such a situation.

... extenuating circumstances aside.


A lot of feminists think this denies networking opportunities for women.


I'm a woman and I am a feminist.

Unless you are an actor or dancer any sort of touching with coworkers is very inappropriate for all genders, sexual or non sexual touching included. Keeping your work and professional lives separate is just good sense. It's rude to make comments about other people's appearances unless you are very close friends with them. Closed door meetings are sometimes needed but you should never do them excessively or with only the young or attractive, that looks like you're being inappropriate.

Basically, it's just professionalism and should apply to everyone, all genders.

I an friendly with my colleagues but I don't want to be friends with them. I prefer to keep my professional relationships professional and my personal relationships personal.


You spend the majority of you life in work, and to avoid making friends with some people you spend time with is very isolating. I'm not going to the weekly board game thing because then, gasp, I might make friends!

Imagine if we applied the same standards to school.

I think this attitude is part of the reason why adults have a hard time making friends after college.


Woah, I do not spend the majority of my time at work! For a given week I am awake for approximately 112 hours but I only spend 40 at work, so less than 36% of a given week is spent at work.

During work I am usually too busy, uh, working to really socialize. I mean, I'm friendly, there's water cooler banter, but I've got work to do.

I socialize plenty, just outside of the office with people who aren't my colleagues.

I've personally seen excessive fraternization backfire badly. You also realize, once you've been around the block once or twice, that friends you make at work are very shallow friendships 99.99% of the time.

Here's an argument for boundaries at work: https://hbr.org/2003/12/in-praise-of-boundaries-a-conversati...

>You don’t have time to make friends if you’re out socializing every night with pseudofriends. And on a smaller scale, the same is true in business offices. It is a terrific imposition for a business to ask people to give up their weekends and their evenings for unpaid work. I get these pathetic letters from 70-year-old retired executives who say, “I worked for 40 years in this office, and everybody loved me. They gave me this huge party when I left. And now nobody calls me. What happened?” What happened, I say, is that your colleagues aren’t your friends—and they never were.


Thats too bad, I've made some friends (as in gone to weddings level) from work, and we've helped each other throughout the years. I've also made work acquaintances that I've referenced in the past and we've worked together again as a result. They are great to work with.

I used to be like you, and I found it actually put me back in life richness. After I started seeing another non-work friend making friends from work and inviting them to social things, I realized it wasn't a bad thing to be open to be making friends. Your not going to make friends from most people you meet, just like school, but it is a possibility. I think part of the reason why you find them %99.99* shallow is because you might not be open to it.

It's also quite funny that article cites china, japan and so on as places with more formalized boundaries, where it's pretty much tradition that you go out drinking with colleagues every, single, night and you work a fucking shit ton.

What I'm suggesting is to not be afraid of it. If there is some optional board game night that seem enjoyable, and you like it, go do it! If you really click with someone that you have lunch breaks with on your team, it's not a bad thing! If you don't connect with anyone, there is nothing wrong with that either.


Ummm.... Being invited to a wedding isn't a very high bar of friendship. I've been invited to weddings of people I never even met before, the odd distant relative. Most people invite people they haven't seen in a decade to their wedding. Most weddings are a show and the couple really want an audience.

99.9% shallow is not because I'm not open to it, its been my direct observation from people around me throughout the years. I didn't start noticing it until I was in my late 20s. It's not hard to observe from being around the block a few times.

Drinking with colleagues in Japan is not actually socialization, its just an extension of the office. Its a highly formal and ritualized event even though there is alcohol. It's considered part of work.

I'm not going to board game nights with coworkers because I'm busy playing board games with my actual friends. Sometimes new friendships happen in the office, ok, but I'd like to avoid mixing friendship and business if possible.

1) Making friends with all your colleagues can become a minefield to navigate after a while, uh.

2) You know friendships with people you aren't required to be around are legitimate.


[dead]


The kind of personal incivility that you've included in this comment is in no way OK on Hacker News. We've banned the account.


> Human touch is fucking important

if it's important to you, that's why you have friends and family.

i'm sure as an adult you can handle not fondling other adults at work, because even if you think 'it's important', you don't know what kind of space other people are in and how they feel about you touching them.


I assume english is not your first language.

Fondling is not even close to the word touching.

Fondling is about sexuality.

Touching is a physical action. You touch a cup. You touch a dog. You touch a touch screen. You touch someone when you shake their hand.

Roughly, you can't fondle a cup. You wouldn't say you fondle a dog, and you won't say you fondle friends and family.

(And I do know spaces my workmates are in... as much as family and friends, so should you if you are able. Human beings matter, a workplace is more than money)


not everyone shares this aggressive need for touching that you seem to be describing.

if human beings matter to you, hopefully you can see this.


> Unless you are an actor or dancer any sort of touching with coworkers is very inappropriate for all genders, sexual or non sexual touching included.

Weird. So I guess you never shake hands with someone in a business meeting, and it is only appropriate to do so if you are an actor or dancer.

> Closed door meetings are sometimes needed but you should never do them excessively or with only the young or attractive, that looks like you're being inappropriate.

When I worked at Evil Corp, the only meetings I could have were behind closed doors. I worked closely with a female colleague on another team - she was young and attractive, nobody thought it was inappropriate.

> Basically, it's just professionalism and should apply to everyone, all genders.

I can agree to that.


When men openly discuss not meeting with women because of a fear of being falsely accused (which itself is exceedingly rare) of inappropriate behavior or molestation, what are women supposed to conclude?

That they aren't being denied networking opportunities or opportunities to build working relationships?

What is a positive take-away for women from powerful or monied men saying, in public, "I am afraid of meeting with women, so I no longer will"?

For the record, I'm a dude and when I hear men say this, I think much less of them--for being cowardly and shutting women out of industry for their cowardice.


I think we lack empathy. How would we men feel if the situation was switched?

At work we discussed a customer who wouldn't shake hands with women because of his religion. A coworker said that's not sexist and the company should accommodate the customer. I asked him how he'd feel if a customer's religion bars handshakes with white dudes. He looked down and had no response.


What if white bosses said the same things about black employees? People's unit tests are tots broke.


i suppose it depends on there being a similar circumstance. if accusations of interpersonal 'racial harassment' became more regular, you would probably see a shift in behavior with some people going out of their way to avoid 'risky' situations.


The chicken littles claiming this problem exists in the first place are publicly scared they are next. This they admit outright. I'd wager that people making these claims probably _do_ have this as a risk, for good reason.


this mindset seems a bit like a 'if you have nothing to hide...' view on privacy. they're only concerned because they're villains?


You are putting words from a totally different argument in my mouth. Weak rhetoric.


your statement was thus:

> I'd wager that people making these claims probably _do_ have this as a risk, for good reason.

why do you think they have this as a risk? why for good reason? why do you wager this situation?

your phrasing seems like a sneering insinuation, but framed such that you can say it doesn't mean any one concrete thing, should someone respond. this seems like "weasel wording" and it seems disingenuous to reply the way you did.


The feminists created the environment in which it becomes the smart thing to do.


> The feminists

The people who think women should be equal ...


i think that to many this is almost comically reductive, if not an outright red herring. (not that 'the feminists' is a super useful term.)


Sure. Just like the communists thought people should be equal.


This is getting crazy. Can we please not do this?

> Eschew flamebait. Don't introduce flamewar topics unless you have something genuinely new to say. Avoid unrelated controversies and generic tangents.

https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html


So in your mind, personal and social equality are equated two things, Communism and Feminism?

Could you explain this?


I'll explain it this way: Both the feminists and the communists espouse equality as a tool to get what they're really after - power.


No, the people committing sexual assault did.


What's your insinuation about being alone with a woman being unsafe? That you don't trust yourself not to do something inappropriate or that you don't trust the woman not to make up a false accusation?

When you go shopping do you take a chaperone so as to keep yourself out of a potentially unsafe shoplifting situation?

We're all always adjacent to a potential crime or difficult situation. But we're not supposed to live in fear of them.


> What's your insinuation about being alone with a woman being unsafe? That you don't trust yourself not to do something inappropriate or that you don't trust the woman not to make up a false accusation?

it's not an insinuation, it's risk mitigation.


I am not worried that if I'm alone with a woman I will suddenly become a monster. I'm also not really worried about false accusations.

What I'm really worried about is keeping myself out of situations where mutual feelings of physical attraction develop. This could lead to situations that threaten my work and family.

I had an uncle who was a Catholic priest. They are not allowed to spend time alone with nuns, and I think its the same idea.

Back to your analogy.... I don't bring a chaperone to the grocery store to prevent myself from shoplifting. But I definitely bring my wallet. I also try to shop AFTER dinner rather than BEFORE, because when I shop while hungry it completely changes my buying behavior. I view this as the same thing.

I want to provide fertile ground for the type of relationships that I want to have, and make it difficult for the kinds that I am avoiding to even get started.


Do you extend the same principles to homosexual men? Are homosexual women exempted?

I find it easier to not have to consider the sexual preferences of my coworkers when I'm interacting with them.

Edit: I should add, if someone is going to attack my character, they're going to do it regardless of what I do. I'm not going to go out of my way to prevent that.

Similar to using encryption everywhere you can: it makes the use of it non-suspicious. The last thing I want is for being alone with a coworker to be implicitly suspicious because the new norm is this sillyness.


> Do you extend the same principles to homosexual men? Are homosexual women exempted?

The worry is about him appearing plausibly improper, so their sexuality doesn't matter.


Right, but the implication is that they'd be just fine meeting one on one with another man. That it's only women who get treated specially.


Yes, that's the point. That this paranoia is bad for women. And the paranoia is all about a man with any element of power interacting with a woman. The first party's sexuality is somewhat relevant, but the latter's doesn't matter at all.


I'm sorry, but that paranoia is pure cowardice. If someone in power cannot meet with someone one on one without attempting anything, then they do not deserve to be in that position, full stop.


> that paranoia is pure cowardice

Sure.

> If someone in power cannot meet with someone one on one without attempting anything

Uh, that's not what the paranoia is. The paranoia is about accusations.


And I don't buy that. People who aren't sexual predators don't have to worry about that.


> have to worry

Fear isn't rational.

You can't imagine someone in this situation that's excessively worried about a very unlikely but possible occurrence, and acts based on that fear?


If they're that driven by fear, they do not deserve to be in that position. And if they're that afraid of it, it's probably because they know they're likely to act in that manner.

I have zero sympathy whatsoever for those cowards, and I extremely abhor the implied insinuation that women won't receive opportunities in the future unless they allow themselves to be harassed and shut up about it.


presumably, the rate of male v male harassment accusations is very low (at least relatively), and as such doesn't much play into risk aversion.


This clip is relevant to today's issue. Men can accuse just as easily.

American Beauty How to Quit a Job With Kevin Spacey

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=psNuJuaYqVU


These seem like reasonable precautions that don't disproportionately affect womens' access to your time and expertise. They probably help some women feel more comfortable as well.


And in a zero tolerance corporation, you could still be whacked after decades of service, because someone says so.


"I don't ever comment on their physical appearance even if they got a great hair cut."

Why is that? I'm not American so I don't understand, is it because of self-defense against allegations or because you see it inappropriate?

Either way, I think you guys are a bit nuts over there, avoiding normal human interaction between genders, or people in general, is the solution?


Compliments on physical appearance can signal some type of sexual interest.

I give PLENTY of compliments throughout the day. But I keep it limited to someone's thought's, actions, attitude, and quality of work.


You guys are crazy over there if you're afraid of "signals", whatever that means.


How do you let someone know that you are romantically interested in them?

Basically I try not to do anything that would be confused with one of those things.


Easy fix: just apply the same rule to men and women.

If you don't do that, then yeah you're a jerk.


I understand the fear of men being accused of harassment and losing their career over a he said, she said. However, the stories coming out recently look nothing like a he said she said. I'm not aware of any the recent allegations being based on two professionals meeting alone for a professional discussion and the woman accusing the man of harassment. There seems to be a lot of invitations back to hotel rooms, or numerous, numerous women claiming groping and outright sexual assault. The facts on the accusations here are not public, as far as I'm aware, so I can't speak to this allegation specifically. But to imply that men need to not have normal business interactions with women to protect from this doesn't seem to match up with the facts here and sounds like FUD that does a disservice to women who deal with real harassment.


I avoid women in my professional life as much as I possible can. My work is in politics, and if I absolutely must work with a woman, I do all I can to make that interaction as open, transparent, documented, and inclusive with others as possible. You will never catch me alone in an office with a woman. I know colleagues who refuse to even interview or consider women for positions because they are afraid of anything that might be said or implied later, and becoming a liability.


Yeahhhh, so refusing to interview or consider women for positions is very much against the law in the United States. Might not want to do that.


Yeah, well the laws in the US have become so convoluted, if they want to get you, they'll find something you are guilty of. Same as Orwell and Huxley predicted.


The breadth of thoughts you allow yourself is limiting your mind.


I think there is always a chance that a sociopath will plot to ruin your life for no perceivable self gain. A tiny, tiny chance. I’m skeptical of the actual efficacy of such strategies, like the “Pence” rule, but the main point is that designing your whole life so as to minimize the attack surface for sociopaths is completely insane. It would be like never leaving your house so as to reduce the chance of dying in a terrorist attack. And better not meet with any men either, as men can also accuse you of groping them, amazingly enough.

In many ways it seems like the Republican campaign against “voter fraud” or similar: a solution so obviously in search of a problem, that one seems sure there must be some ulterior motive.


These guys are all pretty obviously guilty, so I don't see the need to worry. Just follow two simple rules and you'll be fine:

1. Don't sexually assault / harass anybody.

2. Maintain clear boundaries with anybody you have a position of power over - even if it seems completely consensual you just can't hook up or have a romantic relationship with them.


I am not sure SFJ is guilty. Basically, he was overly critical of ideas and pitches he received. The opposing party had their feelings hurt which they attribute to them being female.


Well given that afaik nothing has been said publicly, there's not much to discuss, but I doubt that he would have been ousted from DFJ without a reason.

It is of course possible that this is DFJ freaking out and cutting him loose despite his innocence but that is not the most likely explanation.


Witnessed firsthand Jurvetson say wildly inappropriate thing to female VC he literally just met. He remarked about her necklace that it looked like a choker and did she also have "a ballgag"? He also used to flash a slide in his standard pitch deck, which he presented all over the world, about the impressive "software" at DFJ. The slide would show a photo of all the young female exec assts. He would then pause and smile to an audience of predominantly men. Usually it wouldn't get any laughs; not sure if anyone really appreciated the joke. Steve is a brilliant visionary but clearly has some difficulty understanding right from wrong behavior. On some level I feel sorry for him but I unhesitatingly believe DFJ ousted him due to the mountain of evidence they uncovered during their investigation.


That's easier said than done. Sexual harassment is used as a weapon, but so is the accusation of harassment. I do not put it past women to fabricate these things to get their way. The danger is just too high because as a man, regardless of the accusation, or circumstances, we are guilty until proven innocent. It takes an enormous amount of evidence to clear a man from a wrongful accusation made by a woman. There's just too much risk to even take a chance.


What's easier said than done exactly?


Who is it that 'must' be having this 'legitimate' concern? Even in the poll and wikipedia page you cited, the primary driver for the concern is sexist beliefs of a religious nature, not some response to recent high-profile accusations of misconduct.


    many others will make a fear-driven overreaction.
This. The actual risk involved here (job loss due to fraudulent accusations) must be so tiny as to be negligible.


I'm not convinced the risk of job loss due to false accusations is negligible, but it's hard to see how actually trying to make friends with people would increase that risk.


It’s just a rough intuition/guess of mine. I tried to think about anyone I’ve heard of (in/near my social network) who’d lost a job due to any accusations at all. Two came to mind, both with smoking-gun evidence. Even if I knew five people who were dismissed on claims alone (which would still probably be a mix of true and false claims), that’d still put the fraction at well under one percent.


Humans don't work by actual risk and rather by perceived risk.


Or reputation insurance products pick up, anybody interested?

Asking for a VC


I think we then need to cut those people out. If you're not professional enough to be able to meet with anyone one-on-one, and not do anything, then you don't deserve a position in leadership.


> and not do anything,

His point was: "... and not fear to ever be accused of anything,"


And if you're that afraid, you need to ask yourself why.


There are some terrible people out there that will lie to get what they want (c.f. borderline personality disorder, sociopaths, etc.). They exist in large quantities in the business world.

I've been on the receiving end of false (non-harassment) accusations and it sucks. I now take precautions to prevent that from happening again and I don't think it's unreasonable to expect that BPD or sociopath women would use false harassment accusations to achieve their means.


Every action has a reaction. SJWs beware.


Reply from Steve Jurvetson:

"I am leaving DFJ to focus on personal matters, including taking legal action against those whose false statements have defamed me."

https://twitter.com/dfjsteve/status/930170825625370624


Has anyone kept track of how often someone says something along those lines, and how often the suit is actually filed?


Lol, the "defaming" has caused them to quite their own business. Let me write a quick Prolog program to figure this one out.


It is nice to see comeuppance for those who used their position to hurt others. I'm hopeful that the past few weeks lead to a new culture where victims do not fear retribution for speaking out or going to authorities, but I fear that without a concerted effort to make that happen things will go back to normal and this will just be a blip.


Its unlikely that people who are inclined to abuse their power this way will not notice. Its been a media blitz, and its astonishing how prevalent this kind of behavior has been so far. Hopefully it will at least make the abusers think twice, but more importantly, I hope it will empower the victims to speak out and not feel like its been their fault.


> Its been a media blitz, and its astonishing how prevalent this kind of behavior has been so far.

Given how many people have spoken up at #meetoo, it's really not astonishing. What's astonishing is that this has been ignored for so long.


This is what I love about America: we have periodic, bloodless revolutions that can be initiated and carried out by anyone. The social order keeps changing without the chaos, destruction, and waste of violent upheavals or coups. Isn't this what both Marx and Mao have always wanted? What they both didn't realize was that you need a functioning democracy with freedom of speech (and the Internet) to achieve it.


Would you mind explaining this more? It's a interesting idea. What do you think causes this or allows it to happen? Did you think of this or is it taken from somewhere?


Yeah imo I could be wrong but this was the intent of America's forefathers.

"I hold it that a little rebellion now and then is a good thing, and as necessary in the political world as storms in the physical." TJ

1. our country was created and formed by dissidents and rebels. Rebellion is really ingrained into our culture. If you look at our history in business, arts, and even technology; you can see that it is really pervassive and our non-obvious main competitive advantage

2. Democratic republics allow our society to have bloodless revolutions by voting out leaders we don't like. It happens so often that these bloodless revolutions become the norm and its effects go beyond just politicians

3. Obvious to some but not to everyone, since not everyone on HN lives in a democracy, but freedom of speech allows us to say and write whatever is on our minds - also giving us a Free Press, which makes bloodless rebellions more likely (and violent overthrows much less likely)

Combine the above ingredients and you get constant, non-destructive revolutions. Add a ubiquitous and currently open & free platform called the Internet and you get the current state of things.

When you think about it, it's a win / win for everyone, because even if you are one of the people getting overthrown; you're not going to get killed unlike in other countries


Agreed until you got to the Marx and Mao part, which is a bit "WUT?"


Why? Am I wrong?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Permanent_revolution

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cultural_Revolution

To be clear, you do realize that I'm criticizing both Marx and Mao right?


You're taking them out of context. Marx didn't want revolution for revolution's sake. He had a specific change to the social order in mind, namely the cause of socialism. He wouldn't approve of the US.


So you're saying that the Women's Suffrage movement changed nothing? The Civil Rights movement didn't have any effect? The Sexual Revolution did little? What about the unions? I can go on. Are you saying that none of our bloodless revolutions made any changes to the social order?


They both wanted social revolution, but the execution of their plans lead to tens of millions of unnecessary deaths.


23 years ago, Steve Jurvetson was the only VC to respond to the 150 letters I sent out while seeking capital for my first startup. At the time he had not yet made partner at DFJ (it was just Draper Fisher back then). I was really impressed by his intelligence. At the time I was delivering pizza while working my way through a physics degree, designing a fusion reactor in my spare time. He cared about real advances in technology, and he and Tim Draper gave me a chance. Without him making the decision to speak to me, my whole life and career would have been different.

I don't know anything about whether Steve was inappropriate towards women or not. I've never worked closely enough with him to know, and I haven't spoken to him in many years. But I can't help but hope that he's doing ok. I hope he either gets vindication if he's innocent, or comes to peace with his actions if he is not. The rest of you may see him now as a powerful middle-aged man, but I still remember him as the young hotshot with something to prove.


Based on what I've read, and I'm fully willing to admit it's all hearsay, Steve, while having achieved great things, has a history of abusing his power and treating founders poorly. This does not feel like bad news.


Unless the founder is of Theranos.


This may get downvotes, but the speed with which careers are being destroyed based on mere allegations of sexual misconduct these days is frightening. While the allegations in this case may or may not be true, it is actually possible for a woman to make a false allegation of sexual misconduct. There are myriad reasons that someone would make make such a false allegation against a powerful VC. Yet in today’s environment, even if he ultimately proves himself to be innocent through the lawsuit he claims he is going to file against his accuser, a career death sentence has already been carried out by a virtual lynch mob. That is wrong.


I’m not convinced that "career death due to fraudulent sexual misconduct allegations” is a ramptant problem in tech. Based on nearly 100% of women I’ve ever known in tech, the vast majority of sexual misconduct either goes unreported or gets reported and ignored. Maybe you have some better data about this, though. If so, do share.

And besides, I have a hard time imagining that a large VC firm would fire one of its founders on a flimsy claim. He’s obviously extremely valuable to RFJ, so you’d expect they’d have done some basic cost-benefit analysis before getting rid of him. To me, firing him sounds more like “preemptive damage control” in the face of very credible claims than it seems like “overcautious PC policing”.


If there were proof - emails, texts, etc - it would have been leaked to recode and other publications to avoid perceptions like mine. Public disclosures of these kinds of actions are meticulously calculated. Mr. Jurveston clearly disputes the allegations, to the point where he is promising litigation. The lack of evidence publicly presented likely means that it is a flimsy accusation - likely a “he said/she said” kind of thing. The sad thing is that in a post-Weinstein world, “she said” seems to be all that matters.


    Public disclosures of these kinds of actions
    are meticulously calculated
Are they? All we have is a FB post from one of their entrepreneurs. She probably (sensibly) thinks there’s a better authority for dealing with the situation than the general public.


> to avoid perceptions like mine

They totally would have assuaged your fears by emailing you the evidence directly. Your sensitivities were on the top of their list, because God Man, THEY HAVE EMPATHY!


Would you mind sticking to substantive comments, please?


You are just making shit up here.


+1. Although I'd call it a post-Trump world. After all that surfaced about Trump's conduct with women during elections, and him STILL getting elected, women are done with it and taking a stand. I believe Weinstein is merely a happy casualty of Trump's election.


OP just highlights the speed at which careers are getting destroyed on accusations alone (guilty b4 proven innocent), and pragmatically suggests that it is possible for a malicious user to exploit this vulnerability.

Also Steve wasn't fired from DFJ (not RFJ), he left to sue


I was gonna reply to your first draft (the one which started “reeks of troll”), but then it was already changed by the time I clicked the “reply” button. You’ve made at least five edits since then. Stop, think, write, post.


My bad, I felt I sounded a little passive-aggressive. New on the boards. Let me know your thoughts on the final draft:)


The crux of the problem is how to set up a system where people feel comfortable coming forward without creating one that incentivizes false accusations. This is exacerbated by the externalities surrounding sexual misconduct: sometimes it's one word against another, sometimes the evidence isn't that strong, and many victims are so impacted by the misconduct/abuse that they may not want to relive the experience through the legal/judicial system. And as we see here, an accusation of sexual misconduct can be so damaging to the accused that they may seek financial restitution - no matter whether they did or didn't commit the crime. Finally, there is an element of ambiguity as to what constitutes sexual harassment (in some cases, definitely not all) and what does not.

I don't think there's a good solution to the problem within our existing legal framework. Probably the best short-term fix is to encourage victims to document incidences of sexual misconduct as soon they occur (including gathering e.g. biological evidence) and to report on them as soon as possible. Of course, the natural response to sexual misconduct is often to dedicate time to reconciling the fact that it happened, not to seek legal recourse, so this couldn't be perfect.


This woman likely does not have enough money to compensate him for the actual damages that would be awarded at trial should he prevail, let alone any punitive damages. Lost potential earnings etc. would likely be in the billions in this case. For all intents and purposes, the lawsuit and any money he did recover would be meaningless except perhaps as a personal vindication.

His career ended when she made the accusation. The standard of proof in these cases seems to be “I said he did it,” and that is wrong when the penalty seems to be instant banishment from your career and society in general.


Well, yes, which is exactly my point. A victim is heavily discentivized from coming forward with an accusation if there's a chance they will be financially ruined from it, even if it's true. This means that wealthy and powerful people with great lawyers are insulated from all but the most clear-cut cases, which is definitely not a desirable system.

There's also the fact that wealthy people can settle a sexual misconduct case even if they did commit it. You shouldn't be able to pay someone $900k to make an accusation go away and then face no criminal repercussions. Even if the victim is ok with that, the perpetrator is still free to harm other victims.


> His career ended when she made the accusation.

That doesn't seem to me to be true. DFJ carried out some kind of investigation, as the article mentions. I don't agree with your assertion that any evidence they found would have been leaked by now (or would necessarily ever be leaked). And I can't believe that DFJ's investigation into such an important person in their organization would have been cursory, nor that they would fire him without substantial cause.

We don't know what the investigation found, and we may never know. That doesn't mean there wasn't anything.


That is an extremely simplified version of what happened. She did far, far more than just say, "He touched me." And those in the company felt the accusation credible enough to choose to no longer associate with him.

I'm sorry, but the "What about the men?" take is quite childish, and treats women like they have cooties or something.


> The crux of the problem is how to set up a system where people feel comfortable coming forward without creating one that incentivizes false accusations.

My rule of thumb about these things is that if some guy is a creep, he will have been a creep to multiple women. See Louis C. K., Roy Moore, etc. By coming forward, the women will back each other up. I'll remain a bit skeptical until I hear more than one accusation.

Craaaaig Jurgenson, or whatever his name is, only has one accuser so far, but he took it seriously enough to let himself be fired. I won't say he's guilty, but it sure looks suspicious.


First of all, if you have been on ycombinator for any length of time, you knew this would end up top reply, not downvoted.

Secondly, will this is wrong, the main alternative seems to be years of unreported abuse. The men (and it is mostly men) have had years to take these kinds of accusations seriously, and work towards an environment where should accusations could be handled fairly. They have failed at that goal.

While I am fear a small number of people may get falsely accused, the opening of the floodgates will, I hoped be a long term good.


You’re wrong, the post is currently at -2 points and falling. My faith in the lynch mob mentality of today’s environment is well placed. Any hint that even one of these accusations may be false or overblown will be met with immediate negative reactions, despite the fact that little is publicly known about this case other than the consequences for Mr. Jurveston.


There is a percent of false accusations for any kind of crime. However, it is the lowest when it comes to harassment and other anti-women crimes due to enormous costs victims have to pay (in every sense) to raise their voice. It is ridiculous to use unavoidable and very low percent of false accusations as an argument against attempts that victims make to restore justice with no working framework. Currently we don't have proper mechanisms to protect these victims, and in many cases speaking out is the only thing they can do. They shouldn't be blamed for the absence of these mechanisms.


Because you're not presenting anything new. You're not providing any kind of evidence that the accusation might be false. You added nothing but a backhanded, "Women do bad things!" comment.


>Yet in today’s environment, even if he ultimately proves himself to be innocent through the lawsuit he claims he is going to file against his accuser, a career death sentence has already been carried out by a virtual lynch mob. That is wrong.

Has this ever actually happened?


Sometimes it isn't just career death

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carl_Sargeant


I've read that article twice and nowhere does it indicate he was cleared of the accusations.


how does one become 'cleared of accusations'?


Police investigation? Parliamentary one? Alibis, inconsistencies in the story, etc.? People are cleared of alleged crimes/improprieties all the time.


a hyper-concrete alibi usually works (such as reliable documentation of being on a different continent), but everything else is just "absence of evidence" (not a clearing).

unless "cleared" actually just means "insufficient evidence".


I was talking about being falsely accused. All signs in his case are that he actually did it.


Did what? The allegations weren't even put to the "accused" let alone a court of law.

Let me be clear, I don't know whether he was guilty or not, the biggest reason being that the accusations are public.

But that's the rub, just an allegation can be enough to trigger all sorts of repercussions regardless of the guilt of the accused.

Accusations should be taken seriously unless prima facie absurd (the raped by someone who wasn't in the country for 20 years level of absurd). And in most cases should initially lead to suspension pending investigation for offences that would lead to a custodial sentence.

Firing and other forms of response where there is no way back is prejudicial and lacking natural justice.

[EDIT] added large clarification


Joe Lonsdale?


yes, if all of those circumstances are true, then it would be unfair to the accused (and should be punished accordingly).

however, it seems to me that journalists are being unusually careful about reporting these abuse allegations because of the exact pitfall you point out. some of the reports cite tens of sources (some named and some unnamed), so they're trying to play it safe when it comes to the reporting.

that's not to say that journalalists are infallible, but that they are taking precautions not to potentially destroy careers based on rumors alone.


It is concerning.

I am not even sure what the attitude should be.

By default I would say that when there are serious allegations we should wait until a trial has been conducted.

But there are also cases emerging of dozen of people finally speaking out about an individual, where some kind of opportunistic fabrication seems very unlikely.

How should we balance the 2 ?


I don't see how why this topic has become all of the sudden a crime where journalists are the judges and not a court of law. It saddens me that society has become so blood hungry again that there are almost seasonal public lynchigs going on. It hurts also the crime itself. In a few weeks nobody is going to care about it anymore as the next whitch is going to be hunted through the village.


> I don't see how why this topic has become all of the sudden a crime where journalists are the judges and not a court of law

It hasn't. It still is a crime where criminal courts of law are the applicable courts.

It's also a tort where civil courts of law are the applicable court.

It's also a moral and PR issue where individuals in deciding their own personal business are the applicable decision-makers.

Journalists are relaying the information on which people make decisions on both responsibility and consequences, but they aren't making the decisions.

> It saddens me that society has become so blood hungry again that there are almost seasonal public lynchigs going on.

No one is getting lynched.


Oh, give me a break, the decision to fire someone is not decided by a court of law and never was in the history of the universe. These stories broken by journalists in the last couple months are have investigations that are 10x more thorough than any HR department would ever conduct.

Conducting an investigation and reporting on factual information is not "lynching." Suggesting it is is a gross assult on freedom itself.


In most of these rapid takedown cases, the accused doesn't contest the allegations (or only sort of does). Easy to overestimate how often this happens.

And the destruction is mutual for the most part. The moment the accusation is made, the accuser will experience some stigma too.

As sad as it may be, hardly frightening.


I was thinking this too. I do believe there are a lot of victims of sexual abuse and sexual harassment. However, what concerns me is that their truths are being overshadowed by those who seek to use these accusations as a way to screw over somebody they didn't like or for attention or even for money. It is quite frightening and it could happen to anyone.


> their truths are being overshadowed by those who seek to use these accusations as a way to screw over somebody they didn't like or for attention or even for money.

Wow. Given the well-supported allegations of sexual misconduct, published in reputable newspapers recently, yours is quite the claim. Who is doing this for attention? Do you have any evidence?


Jackie from the UVA story?


Are you saying that you know this is happening, or that you are concerned by the possibility of it happening?


> However, what concerns me is that their truths are being overshadowed by those who seek to use these accusations as a way to screw over somebody they didn't like or for attention or even for money.

Like who?


>This may get downvotes, but the speed with which careers are being destroyed based on mere allegations of sexual misconduct these days is frightening.

I think that traditional avenues have failed victims. This is especially true for Hollywood which has been abusing power long before the tech industry existed (see the exploitation of Judy Garland from the Wizard of Oz)[0].

If there are any false allegations (through evidence or admission), we will need to see how the media treats that. If they don't give it the same coverage as the accused are currently getting, then that's obviously a problem with the media and society. That would clearly be bias and possibly sexist.

If all of these allegations hold true, then the media has successfully done the job where law and society could not.

[0] https://www.vanityfair.com/hollywood/2017/02/judy-garland-si...


> a career death sentence has already been carried out by a virtual lynch mob

Did you read the article you are commenting on?

> "... sources said that the investigation uncovered behaviors by Jurvetson that were unacceptable related to a negative tone toward women entrepreneurs."

So if the article is correct, your claim that there is nothing more than "mere allegations" so far is wrong.


It's how it always works though things are never in equilibrium. Todays environment is direct result of those in power either ignoring the problem or being part of the problem for a long time. Now as pendulum is moving in the opposite direction it will swing by the equilibrium point and move far enough in opposite direction (proportional to how far out of balance it was before).


What are we to do? Letting a suspected abuser remain in a position where they can abuse seems less than ideal as well.


Steve Jurvetson, at the end of this, will still be wealthy and powerful. Even if he is innocent, him losing his job is a small price to pay when balanced against the countless women who are harassed and assaulted every day.

And let's be clear, he's probably not innocent.


If the allegation is false then Mr. Jurvetson could seek significant civil and in certain cases even criminal penalties. Making a serious false accusation against someone that damages their career is not something one does lightly, especially someone with significant financial resources at their disposal. If the accusation is actual rape then it would be making a false criminal charge, which is a felony.

It sounds as if lawsuits are going to be filed, which means these claims may get examined in a court of law.

For these reasons I'm inclined to think there's likely something to this. If there isn't then the accuser(s) must have either nothing to lose, a serious axe to grind, or are being paid by someone to do this. These seem unlikely.


Long time reader, tentative poster, upvote or downvote as necessary…

Back in the days of orkut.com, I do remember Jurvetson making what seemed to me like a huge effort to interact with pretty young women, especially from Estonia. I remember him having a few hundred friends on that service — more than most people there had — a list which included a very large population of pretty, young, single Estonian women.

Keep in mind that I never saw any behavior of his on orkut.com that I would deem harassment, but his social activity there did seem curious to me, considering his married, busy professional status. It was kind of similar to what I saw Marc Canter (of Macromedia fame I guess?) doing there, but again, for neither guy did I witness, or hear, of any harassment going on. it just seemed that what they were doing was merely using their professional status to flirt.

At the time, I figured that their flirting, and their collecting of young female friends, was harmless, and didn't indicate anything untoward going on. Especially since none of my female friends and acquaintances in these guys’ sights intimated to me that anything weird or unwelcome was happening. But now, I'm not so sure, considering how allegations, like the one in the featured article, are bubbling up.


I'm torn on how useful this kind of comment (or gossip?) is. On the one hand: it's context. On the other: the witch hunt Has Begun™.

God forbid I ever end up in a situation, and find people telling similar, about me. Even if completely true, this could still be irrelevant. How would I feel about my past self indulging in their consumption, as I am tempted to, right now?

How do others feel about this?

Edit: And: does it matter whether it turns out to be a false accusation, like he claims, or a real one? Because if it does (which I think it does), shouldn't we withhold these stories until the verdict is definite? But if it doesn't, then... surely, that can only mean that this comment is irrelevant?


Eh... if you're this indiscrete about your vices, you're indulging in them wrong.


The framing here is priceless.

> Jurvetson is the highest-profile venture capitalist to be forced from his job amid an industrywide evaluation of how Silicon Valley treats women.

And then later.

> The departure comes as Jurvetson was being investigated by his own firm for harassment. An entrepreneur had alleged predatory behavior was “rampant” at DFJ. The woman, Keri Kukral, did not name Jurvetson in her Facebook post.

So the "industrywide evaluation" is individual victims coming forward and reporting past abuse. That's a very charitable take that implies the industry is taking some sort of proactive action.


The firm itself is leading the investigation, rather than an outside individual bringing a lawsuit.

This is a much more proactive scenario than the KPCB-Pao situation several years ago.


Even so, that's not an "industrywide evaluation" but a single firm acting responsibly. If there is a concerted push in tech to deal with sexual harassment and/or sexism I'd love to know about it.


How would you determine whether or not there is a "concerted push to deal with sexual harassment and/or sexism in tech"? Perhaps if many tech companies announced such a push? Or maybe if all major tech publications were consistently reporting on the subject? If top tech companies were hiring expensive executives to specifically handle sexism/sexual harassment, would that be enough?

Because all of that has clearly been happening this year. What else can be done?


Maybe there are different difinitions of “deal with” beig used here? Either way, sexual harrassment is an incredibly difficult problem to “deal with.” Acknowledging it is very easy, but if the ends don’t justify the means, it’s unlikely to happen. The public pressure creates an environment where the ends are more likely to justify the means, but the original issues of how to actually deal with it in an effective manner remain, and they are significant.


Is every company having a HR department not enough?


I had this conversation the other day. HR exists to protect the firm, if that involves sweeping things under the rug, disparaging victims, or enabling illegal behavior by high performers, they will, and historically have, done it.


HR departments are intended to protect the company from liability. Generally speaking, they do that by taking standardized actions regarding harassment claims because otherwise they open the company up to lawsuits and negative PR.

Basically, it's irrational to try to cover up or ignore harassment in the vast majority of cases. Which is why HR is a perfectly decent solution for most of these issues, and we only hear about a few outliers in the media / law suits.


HR does what their bosses tell them to. If the company culture is more conductive to sweeping the transgressions of a director under the rug, then to firing them, then HR will do just that. After all, the director/c-level/partner is making them millions of dollars, and well, most people won't file a lawsuit over a few dozen inappropriate comments or invitations to a hotel room. (Good luck getting a reference after you do.)

Engineers are also supposed to build bug-free software, but when your boss tells you to ship the product, you're going to ship it. If the company gets sued because your product has bugs, you're not going to be personally liable.


> Basically, it's irrational to try to cover up or ignore harassment in the vast majority of cases.

how did you reach that assessment? this would seem to only apply to behavior that was openly visible and recurring.


Apparently not. Was that a serious question?


Yep, and the answer isn't apparent to me at all.

I believe HR departments handle this sort of thing very well in the vast majority of cases.


What do you mean "believe?" At Uber, HR covered up bad behavior. At my last company the HR rep quit due to discrimination.


>At Uber, HR covered up bad behavior.

If that's true, which it may well be in that case, I'd say that Uber is an exception to the rule and the HR department was simply run in a (frankly) idiotic and irrational manner.

HR departments are intended to protect the company from liability. Generally speaking, they do that by taking standardized actions regarding harassment claims because otherwise they open the company up to lawsuits and negative PR. (see Uber)

Most company HR departments take harassment VERY seriously for this reason, especially if the harassment was written in black and white, such as Susan Fowler claims her harassment was.


So your argument is that there is no existing problem that needs dealing with.


Correct. HR handles 98% of cases and the legal system captures the outliers.




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