As allegations of sexual harassment continue to rock Silicon Valley, former Twitter CEO Dick Costolo says the apologies and vows to change aren’t enough to fix the tech industry’s bro culture. A better resolution would be funneling money to women-run funds, he said.
After a female employees and entrepreneurs lodged complaints of mistreatment against male executives at companies like Uber, Binary Capital, and 500 Startups in a series of news reports, some of the accused have come forward with longwinded apologies. 500 Startups co-founder Dave McClure, for instance, penned a response titled, “I’m a Creep. I’m Sorry.” after entrepreneur Sarah Kunst told The New York Times that McClure had made unwanted advances and the two discussed potential work opportunities. McClure eventually resigned.
In an interview with Bloomberg on Wednesday, Costolo, who now heads fitness startup Chorus, said he’s somewhat skeptical of such public admissions.
“It’s a pattern, it’s a pattern, it’s a pattern, and now that something comes out it’s, ‘Oh gosh!’ So you look askew at that a little bit,” he said.
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Costolo, who stepped down as CEO of Twitter two years ago, also cast doubt on another response to the tech industry’s gender problem: the “decency pledge” promoted by LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman, who’s also a partner at VC firm Greylock Partners. The initiative aims to build “a kind of industry-wide HR function so that venture capitalists who engage in such behavior face the same sort of consequences that they would if their overtures were directed at an employee.” Some firms voiced support for Hoffman’s proposal shortly after he posted it to LinkedIn on June 23.
Costolo is less enthusiastic. He told Bloomberg:
I just don’t think that that’s sufficient. Listen, I love Reid, I understand what he’s trying to do, but the answers seem more dramatic to me. Why aren’t people funding women-only GPs—funds where the GPs are all women. There are certainly plenty of funds where the GPs are all men, and I just don’t see those things getting funded.
Rather than encouraging “people who are already in these guys-only partnerships” to change their behavior, Costolo would like to see more money in the hands of Silicon Valley’s women.
“There are a lot of smart women in the Valley; a lot of them are in the venture business,” he said. “Let’s go enable a few of them to create their own fund and get after it. There are plenty of super qualified women out there and I would like to see more of the LPs and institutional investors putting their money where their mouth is on the venture side.”