Apologies, apologies, apologies

Calling out men for bad behavior has amplified and became more public over the past week.  My guess is the apologies will continue as when things go bad, they generally go bad quickly.

We all know, from a very young age, when you do something bad, you apologize.  As a kid, you might not know that what you did was wrong, but a lesson is learned and you apologize to the appropriate people for your mistake. You might have had to say, “I will never do that again” with the hope that it is engrained in your moral fiber for eternity.

Makes me wonder about many of these men who are now being called on the mat to acknowledge and apologize for their unacceptable behavior if they even knew what they were doing was inappropriate.  Is it that they have been behaving like this their entire life and nobody has every said anything to them?  Is it purely about abusing their power?  Is it zero respect for women in their business?  Has it always just been about them?  Did they not learn that hitting on a woman in a business environment is wrong? How would their mother feel about this? Was your father a misogynist too?  Did he treat your mother in a way that you learned that it was ok to be demeaning to women?  You have to wonder.

Some of these apologies from the men who have been called out on their bad behavior are being written by PR people and others are not.  No doubt the dust is far from settled. The good news is more women now feel empowered to speak out in the tech world.  Will we see an onslaught in other industries because we all know it exists everywhere?   We have a President who for all intents and purposes appears to be a chauvinist pig or perhaps he just feels powerful dissing women in his world that is overseen by 70-year white men (born in 1930) who grew up in a world where very few women were in the top echelons of the workforce.

What is changing is that more women are taking over a bigger piece of the board room.  More women are running companies including publicly traded ones. More women are starting their own businesses.  Women who are now having children expect equal responsibility with their spouses, that means everyone does the laundry and empties the dishwasher.  Women now make 85% of the purchasing decisions in this country.  Women are gaining equal footing and that is clearly shifting the comfort level for calling out bad behavior in public.

In the past 5 years, we have seen women on college campuses come forward on sexual assaults.  We have witnessed women who were drugged by Cosby publicly air what happened to them and bring him to court.  We have heard the stories of atrocious behavior among investors and entrepreneurs in the tech industry.   There is a shift happening. The seeds were planted back a few decades ago when our daughters were told that they could do anything, be anything and that they were on equal footing with their male counterparts.  And most families need two incomes to survive so the workforce is growing with women and that is why more women control over 50% of personal wealth.

I certainly hope that we are at a crossroads.  That this type of abject behavior will not be accepted by men because it obviously isn’t accepted by women.  That these bad characters will find themselves without power and access.  Apologies, apologies, apologies are just words that you learn from at a young age but as a full-fledged adult, it is your moral fiber that I have a problem with and no apology will change that because at some level you knew exactly what you were doing was not okay.

Comments (Archived):

  1. Tracey Jackson

    I haven’t heard any apologies from the perpetrator of the seemingly endless nasty remarks about women. And I don’t think we ever will. You know I think it comes from so many places, the media ( TV, video games and films) no doubt, certain testosterone drivenmedia and I think the point you hit on, and I said to G this week, clearly many mothers were just not on top of this when these men were little boys. Because that kind of behavior is often allowed in someway and then just perpetuates – especially if the men’s power base grows. But the scary part is we are taking steps backwards in some ways as if little boys see the men with the greatest power getting away with it, it’s like a hall pass for them to behave in kind. Don’t get me started..Oh, wait you did. But good post!

    1. Gotham Gal

      In the tech sector we are definitely seeing an onslaught of conversations and apologizes. We will see what is the outcome of all of this

      1. JLM

        .What will happen is already evident.VCs will outdo themselves with their wordsmithed, awesome, enlightened apologies which will be like their self-absorbed discussions of their own awesomeness.”Man, my apology was better than Dave McClure’s apology. It was freakin’ awesome!”A year from today, the pics of VC firms will look the same — 90% will be white and male.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

        1. Twain Twain

          I saw this amongst the tweet storms.https://uploads.disquscdn.c…@gothamgal:disqus @MsPseudolus:disqus — My view is that whilst it’s incredibly brave for women to call out things that are wrong with tech’s sexism (and especially wrt sexual harassment), we also need to solve a lot of the data and algorithm bias problems because that type of sexism affects not just a handful of women in the Valley and tech ecosystems, it affects millions of women.It’s the difference between whether women are shown high-paying jobs or not in their search results. It’s the difference between whether the algorithms surface women to recruiters.It’s that type of systemic bias in the data and the algorithms that I’m approaching 1000 women in data science and AI to try and fix.

        1. LE

          Another great link just read that. If true (I will always say that) it’s because he was anointed by retired Paul Graham. Hacker News news.ycombinator.com is infamous for pimping their companies and blocking things they don’t like (whether it be the audience filled with high ranking commenters or the management that can pin and unpin things all the same). In my observation HN will ban people and shadow ban people for viewpoints they don’t like.A few choice quotes for those with no time to read (if anyone is still around reading this day old post):Calls Altman a sub teacher:and we sure as aren’t going to take it from the substitute teacher of Paul Graham’s bro crecheSarah and Pando smeared by a unremitting scumbag like Sam AltmanHow is this the culture that we built? How did we end up creating an industry in which lying pipsqueaks like Sam Altman are heralded as “thought leaders” and “visionaries”?That a tech bro would feel so entitled(The use of ‘bro’ to me was a surprise since Altman is openly gay. I didn’t know that would allow him to be part of the club but I guess I am clueless on that concept.That, unbelievably, is the editor whose integrity pipsqueak Sam Altman is challenging when he tries to smear our editorial output from January 2014. Adam Goddamned Penenberg.Separately the use of the strong language against Sam probably should be avoided. While it makes for interesting reading it detracts from the point the writer is trying to make.

          1. Twain Twain

            SV is great in lots of ways but also has its dysfunctions and personal beefs. I read it all simply to be informed of the various tribes. I don’t know either Lacy or Altman personally so no idea if this has all been simmering for some time.It’s important to focus on the systems, solutions and innovations rather than the personality wars.

      2. Twain Twain

        The outcome in the case of Sam Altman of YC is unknown. Sarah Lacy reported on Uber and Kalanick’s bro culture issues three years before Uber imploded. Now she’s calling out Altman. https://uploads.disquscdn.c

    2. Kirsten Lambertsen

      At some point, little boys (and all children) grow up and aren’t allowed to blame their mothers any more. Some of these men may be rebelling against extremely enlightened, feminist parents.The good thing is that 20 years ago these same women probably wouldn’t have felt enough support to bring their stories out, and if they did they probably would have been shut down as bitter and hysterical before most of us even heard about it. The combination of technology and what I see as a mostly woke-as-hell millennial generation, who show up to support, have made this a very different event in 2017. So I think it’s forward, not backward 🙂 Sometimes it’s hard to see where you are on the upward-and-to-the-right chart.

      1. LE

        The combination of technology and what I see as a mostly woke-as-hell millennial generation, who show up to support, have made this a very different event in 2017.All of that is a factor however this is a story because it involves sex and money and a known company. Otherwise without the money (and known company) it would be get little interest or attention.Main stream media feeding off of stories from social media also plays a large role. Susan Fowler’s story would probably go nowhere if she wasn’t able to publish it and if it didn’t get picked up and broadcast by others. Can’t imagine someone in traditional media talking about that had she contacted them. Possible but unlikely.

      2. JLM

        .Some of this goes back to Bill Clinton — the most powerful guy in the world abusing an unpaid intern. If he can get away with it, why can’t these guys? <<< This is what is known as a rhetorical gambit and is not intended to suggest it is correct. Do not do this at home.If the left lionizes an abuser, they empower all abusers.This is all about guys, power, women, and abuse. Nothing more.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

  2. JLM

    .People born in 1930 — both women and men, regardless of ethnicity — would be 87 years old, right?Women will never get the treatment they deserve; they will get the treatment they negotiate. Negotiations are a means to bring their demands for fairness to the marketplace. It has to be a demand because it will not happen voluntarily. Some negotiations have to be conducted at the point of a bayonet to achieve a good outcome.On the other hand, if you believe that a man can change, then an apology is a good place to start. I, personally, think the creeps who have promulgated this behavior in the tech space are incorrigible and are just feigning contrition as a means of either garnering attention or avoiding retribution.There is a creepy lack of manliness in a guy who would use his financial power to solicit sexual gratification. It is a pathetic admission of a lack of charm and finesse to need to slap a woman with a checkbook to get her attention. Obviously, they are not gentlemen. They should be called out and held accountable by their victims.I get back to something simple — look at a picture of any VC firm and count the women, minorities, and others who wear the title of partner or other authoritative identifier. It will remain a 90% male, white guys, closed loop game until the pictures change. Until then, it’s a head fake. No amount of ranting will change that.As to boards, it is not true that women are making up a higher percentage in a meaningful way. Today, female representation on boards is pure tokenism and not much more. One only has to look at the Uber board pre-blow up and post-blow up to see the truth of this. What is needed on boards is not more women, but more “people” for whom “Boober” behavior is seen as sophomoric and illegal.The VCs in the Uber deal knew what was happening from the beginning. They did nothing when it happened, why? Answer that question and you know what the real problem is. Could it be that greedy investors have no ethical filters?This game was set long before Donald J Trump ever thought about running for President, so the notion of blaming it on him, is pure nonsense and turns what is an intellectually sound argument into a political rant. Keep the legitimate concerns of women in business free of the taint of politics and people of all political persuasions can focus on the real problem. Resist the temptation to confirm your own biases in an unrelated area.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

  3. Stuart Willson

    Yes. ???

  4. Bridget Goodbody

    Amen to that! NO more #everydaysexism…

  5. Anne Libby

    The bropology blog posts and pinned tweets? Not even worth a click.

  6. Dan Wick


  7. Kirsten Lambertsen

    Here’s the thing about those apologies: they just feel like someone saying, “I’m STILL awesome cuz I’m going to show you how an AWESOME dude apologizes.” An epic Medium post isn’t your Get Out of Jail Free card. You aren’t awesome.Just because I feel someone has to be held accountable for their actions doesn’t mean I don’t feel empathy for them. I can do both. But I’m not willing to allow them to forego the consequences.There’s plenty of info available in how to be a decent person. It’s not a secret. If you hadn’t been called out, you’d never have had to apologize.Someone who’s truly remorseful and aware of how much damage they’ve done isn’t interested in trying to turn it into yet another win on their scorecard by regaling us with their path to recovery. The next thing you know they’ll have their own reality show about it.There are consequences, Dave, Chris, et al. You are going to live them. Do it quietly with dignity, in the comfort of your stacks of cash. Get out of the public eye where you *continue* to be a reminder to the people you’ve hurt. If you genuinely care, you’ll go away for a long time and just pour money into good causes. No one wants to hear from you except the dudebro’s who want to continue to get away with what you’ve done. Live with it.

    1. JLM

      .I agree more with you than you do with yourself.These guys are the guys who could never attract a woman of any substance WITHOUT slapping them with a checkbook to get their attention.To be mean — look at them. Pathetic, ugly, weird losers. Revenge of the losers behavior.You are right, this is an empty exercise in awesomeness. It is the black hole void left by gentlemen and manliness.What somebody needs is for a big brother to do some fist to mouth dental work. Old School.The women involved in these type of repetitive abuses need to find a damn good woman lawyer and sue these guys for every penny they have.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

    2. Twain Twain

      Justin Callback’s partner at Binary Capital wrote this over the weekend: “What I think is that we are an industry full of entitled human beings. Particular to silicon valley but not exclusive to it. There are victims out there paying for oppression with their lives. I am angry about this situation. I am angry that women have felt hurt. I am angry that many have been hurt. That we have allowed this hurting to go on for so long is inexcusable, and it is now changing. Fast. This situation has ripped apart something I have built with an intention to bring good into the world. I let it get ruined because of poor choices in people. I regret that and won’t forget that lesson.”* https://www.axios.com/jonat

      1. Gotham Gal


        1. Twain Twain

          Ashton Kutcher’s LinkedIn post on getting to gender equality in tech. Sarah Lacy et al have already jumped all over the fact he defended Kalanick and Emil. Kutcher’s investment vehicle was an early investor in Uber, I think.I’m inclined to give him a chance to raise more media awareness about these issues and TO INVEST HIS $$$ TO HELP DE-BIAS THE SYSTEM.There’s a lot of useful pointers to resources on inclusion in the threads.* https://www.linkedin.com/fe

        2. Twain Twain

          Sarah Lacy recently called out Sam Altman on Pando and here’s something interesting on Dating Ring’s experiences of YC:* https://www.theguardian.com

  8. Pranay Srinivasan

    So much trust has been broken and safety has been compromised.Terrible.

    1. Gotham Gal


  9. awaldstein

    Let me take this sideways.I am completely in agreement on the action needed on this issue.I also think about the bad, sexist behavior coming out of the white house and the acceptance of this by a huge number of people and women.Can’t get my head around this honestly.

  10. awaldstein

    Let me take this sideways.I am completely in agreement on the action needed on this issue.I also think about the bad, sexist behavior coming out of the white house and the acceptance of this by a huge number of people and women.Can’t get my head around this honestly.

  11. Twain Twain

    It’s worth reading this post by Cheryl Yeoh:* https://cherylyeoh.com/2017https://uploads.disquscdn.c…@MsPseudolus:disqus @gothamgal:disqus — As I read the various articles, I’m thinking that differences in cultural values and expectations are also at play. What stood out from Cheryl’s account is this: “We chatted all night over a bottle of wine, Dave sitting across the room from me the whole time, relating to me how he was lonely and an entrepreneur just like all of us, that nobody understands his side of the story as well as his own failures, struggles and insecurities. I felt good that he confided in me and encouraged him to share it with the world, that he doesn’t have to hide behind his tough, hardass persona. A month later on July 7, 2012, he published his “late bloomer” story on svbtle.com and the story went viral.”It’s tricky for men and women alike to navigate where the lines of friendship, support for another human being who feels lonely, business professionalism and appropriateness are.I wouldn’t be in a guy’s room sharing a bottle of wine unless he was my boyfriend/husband. So much can be misread by both sides that it’s really important to be mindful.

    1. LE

      I wouldn’t be in a guy’s room sharing a bottle of wine unless he was my boyfriend/husband.I am with you 100% on that one. For the life of me I don’t understand why any woman would think it’s ok to do this or that that is a safe environment. It’s not. It’s simply not appropriate. For that matter just being in his room is a bad idea to start regardless of alcohol and so on. Or having him alone in her room.I actually read that post last night and I agree that it’s worth reading. Had a few issues with it though.

      1. Twain Twain

        If the other person isn’t my partner or flat-mate, they do not get to see me in person before 8AM or after 8PM alone — only in a crowd of people.A female entrepreneur commented on her post with this: “I read your story expecting to have compassion for what happened to you. At first, I felt really uncomfortable and then I got annoyed at people like you. You don’t seem to know where to draw the line between a business relationship and a personal one with someone of the opposite sex. There are a lot of holes in your story – ones that would make me as a woman entrepreneur uncomfortable with the why and by what logic you would put yourself into the situation. For example, the Napa Summit – he clearly texted you after what is considered appropriate work hours – after dinner. Yet, you took the bait and went to his room, telling yourself not to drink too much. That was what you were thinking to yourself was “don’t drink too much” and if all else fails and he attacks you, you can use your Taekwondo?!? Are you serious??? You weren’t thinking about “meeting him solo in his villa” was a really stupid idea??? I understand chasing after your goals and doing what it takes to make your business idea a reality, etc…but don’t you want to draw the line somewhere when it comes to your own safety? I would have ignored the text and responded in the morning at the appropriate hours to conduct business. That would be my best guess as to what most intelligent people would do. I’m so annoyed I read your story that I couldn’t even finish reading the suggestions you made which I’m sure are probably full of holes, too.”

        1. LE

          I am glad you posted that. That was pretty much what I was going to say. But I have been jumped on before so I didn’t.Here is what I was going to say that I didn’t before:—————————————————————————-I immediately called my boyfriend at the time and told him what had just happened. I was rather inebriated at the time, and couldn’t shake off thoughts of what might have happened if I had been any more drunk and helpless, or had let him stay in my apartment.At a certain point people have to take personal responsibility and stop putting themselves in harms way. Getting so drunk in this way is not being smart. It’s like not wearing your seat belt in a car. Something you do because you need protection from the other driver. Same reason you don’t walk down dangerous streets and try to avoid them. And THIS IS NOT BLAMING THE VICTIM EITHER. You have to anticipate and avoid problems. That is the way I was raised. [1] Nobody ever wants to talk about this. It’s like the guy who went to North Korea and everyone blames North Korea. Sure they are to blame. But so is someone who goes to a place like that it’s a stupid dangerous thing to do. Let’s talk about that as well.Unfortunately, I felt like I couldn’t speak up at the time, or even tell Khailee about it, because we had the Distro Dojo deal at stake and we were supposed to sign an LOI that week. I was extremely conflicted about it. On one hand, I was really upset with Dave’s individual misconduct and never wanted to work directly with him ever again, but on the other hand, if I said anything, I would most certainly kill the Distro Dojo deal. It was so important to the region that Distro Dojo be established there.I think the above speaks for itself. And this is at least one reason men act badly. Because women (and in some cases men in other situations) make a choice that what they stand to gain is worth whatever abuse they take or suffer. This makes it bad for people that follow them.You know the saying I always throw around ‘you can only be as honest as the competition’. So in this case women who don’t capitulate are disadvantaged by women that do. Because they set the bar that allows others to take advantage of them.[1] The way I was raised it was never about the other person it was about what I could have done to avoid the problem or situation. That said of course men need to get their shit together that’s obvious.

          1. Twain Twain

            Re “Everyone except Dave decided to order an Uber. They all promptly left, and left Dave there with me. I was quite confused by how that happened so quickly.”(1.) Friends should watch out for each other. I’ve never left a drunk female friend alone with a guy who wasn’t her boyfriend/husband — and even then I double-checked she was ok with that first.(2.) Why did none of her guy friends coral Dave McClure to share an Uber with them, to make sure he HAD TO LEAVE? Maybe they assumed he was staying the night.

          2. Twain Twain

            Read this:* http://uk.businessinsider.c…* http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/t…Perri Chase: “Culturally, we are taught as women that our main power is our looks and sexuality.”Clearly, she wasn’t raised by my parents. My mother, even when she was well into her 40s, looked like the Bond girl, Barbara Bach. NOT ONCE DID MY MOTHER OR ANYONE IN MY FAMILY EVER TELL ME A WOMAN’S POWER IS IN HER LOOKS AND SEXUALITY.What they did tell me was to work hard, feed my brain and learn from the right types of people.

          3. LE

            Will definitely read those thanks.Perri Chase: “Culturally, we are taught as women that our main power is our looks and sexuality.”I find that funny because although there might be women that are ‘taught’ this like they are taught to fix a sink (you weren’t) there are vastly more women who figure it out by experience and trial and error. So what is happening here is people find out their power as they experience the world and then they adapt to that power. And sure there are not people who will end up abusing that power but there are definitely people who will. Whether that power is good looks (men or women) or money (men or women).I will give you one very small example from the 1980’s. I regularly got called on by both men and women ‘cold called’ back then and I hated to listen to a pitch for something that I knew that I didn’t need. One day an attractive girl showed up on the security cameras and asked to speak with me. I took a look, saw she was attractive and said ‘sure send her up’. I didn’t have any idea of dating her or having sex or otherwise. Really. I just saw she was attractive and decided I would take the meeting. Nothing happened and I didn’t buy anything but I think in a nutshell it shows what happens with looks. I don’t think I am that unusual at all in that respect either (among men).Had a guy working for me that met his wife the same way. She came in, he went down, talked to her, and now they have 3 kids in their 30’s. All because of those security cameras.

  12. Andy Rossignol

    I think it’s part of white male privilege. They can act horribly, but as long as they apologize, we are culturally obliged to forgive, instead of prosecute or punish. But I will say I feel very hopeful these last few weeks. I have worked in tech for almost 20 years (since high school). In the 90’s, I tried to convince myself that I was imagining being harassed. In the 2000’s, I admitted it to myself, but didn’t admit it to anyone else. By the 2010’s, I was able to say it publicly, and received either crickets or ‘you must have been mistaken’ kind of response. Finally, now that it is nearly 2020, if I say I was harassed, people at least believe me.All this public shaming of behavior that has been going on since the inception of Silicon Valley and tech culture is validating. We are collectively admitting that sexually harassment is real. It gives me a renewed sense of courage and faith that not all men are “creeps”,a s Dave McClure described himself. It have a renewed sense of hope and optimism around growing my businesses.So thank you for being a very human human, and using your voice to speak out for those who have been quietly suffering for too long.

    1. Gotham Gal

      Thanks Andy