Technology investor Fred Destin told Business Insider he is “truly sorry,” after he was accused of inappropriate behaviour towards a female founder in a Bloomberg report.
You can read Destin’s full statement below.
He said that he had “on occasion acted without awareness at parties,” and apologised for any times when he made “anyone feel uncomfortable in any way.”
He added that sexism and misogyny have “absolutely no place” in the startup and venture capital industry.
Destin’s comments come after an unnamed female founder told Bloomberg that he had behaved inappropriately with her during a conference party in 2013. Destin briefly referred to the incident on his own blog last month, and said he had apologised to the woman in question.
According to Bloomberg, the founder met Destin at a conference party in the US and pitched him her startup.
He suggested she pitch to his previous employer, Atlas Ventures. The two danced, and then bumped into each other again at a different party, where the founder says she had to remove Destin’s hands from her body. He then reportedly sent her a text containing only his hotel address, and she left the conference early because she felt uncomfortable.
Destin declined to comment on the specifics of the incident, but did not deny the report.
According to Bloomberg, the episode has jeopardised investment into Destin’s new seed fund.
He left Accel earlier this year to launch the fund with Harry Stebbings, a young former entrepreneur-in-residence at Atomico. Companies House filings show that the firm is currently called Stride VC, but Destin said he and Stebbings have yet to decide on a name.
Bloomberg suggested two investors were rethinking their commitment to the new fund, but didn’t name them. Destin’s former employer, Accel, is looking into his conduct, according to the report.
Destin said in an interview with Business Insider that “we are talking to a number of investors and all of them are still doing diligence.”
“As for the new fund, it is vitally important that we communicate all the facts to our investors and that’s what we will be doing. We want to be truthful and transparent in explaining the facts and give them time to assess the situation calmly and fairly.”
He added: “I am confident that we can raise the fund and continue on our mission to back great European entrepreneurs.”
Stebbings will remain with the new fund.
Here is Fred Destin’s statement in full:
“I have on occasion acted without awareness at parties and been flirty. If I offended anyone or made anyone feel uncomfortable in any way, I am truly sorry. I have never knowingly been disrespectful to a woman and have always stayed within the zone of consent. Once made aware of the Nantucket situation nine months later, I felt terrible for any discomfort I caused and reached out to offer an apology. I am ashamed and saddened that I made a woman uncomfortable. I regret ever doing this and have taken active steps to ensure it would never happen again.
To be clear, I have never used my position as a VC inappropriately; to say otherwise is simply wrong. In addition, no complaint has ever been made against me for my behaviour.
I think sexism and misogyny have absolutely no place in our industry. I invite you to reach out to the women I backed to hear how I championed them. I have long been saying that VC’s must earn the trust and support of founders (male or female) by providing meaningful help and having their back — not by waving a chequebook or asserting power. I am 100% supportive of long lasting efforts to root out any form of conscious or unconscious bias or behaviour that keep women down or make their life harder in our industry.”
Bloomberg’s report follows a stream of female founders levelling accusations of sexual harassment at US venture capitalists, most notably Binary Capital’s Justin Caldbeck, 500 Startups founder Dave McLure, and Lowercase Capital’s Chris Sacca.