Niniane Wang: Exposing VC Justin Caldbeck Took ‘100 Hours of Work’
Last month, Niniane Wang, along with two other women, publicly accused then-Binary Capital partner Justin Caldbeck of sexual harassment.
Caldbeck at first tried to dismiss the claims, but criticism only mounted as additional unsavory details came to light. Within a week, Binary Capital announced Caldbeck was permanently leaving the firm.
The series of events seemed to happen at a breakneck speed—from the outside, at least.
For Wang, the process began long before the public caught wind of Caldbeck’s alleged transgressions.
“There was courage involved, but there was a lot of hard work before and after [the article] came out,” she said during a town hall on diversity and inclusion at Fortune Brainstorm Tech in Aspen, Colo.
In many ways, says Wang, she approached exposing Caldbeck’s history of making unwanted sexual advances toward female founders like she would any serious project with a clear end-goal. Only in this case, instead of closing a seed round or filing a patent, “my goal was to get a predator out of a position of power.”
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“I did 100 hours of work before and after the article,” she continued. Her (partial) list of tasks included gathering evidence, creating a timeline, contacting the firm’s limited partners, and encouraging other women to go on the record about their experiences with Caldbeck. Before she went public with her accusations, she knew she needed to have the receipts.
Later in the town hall, Laura Weidman Powers, the CEO of Code2040, a nonprofit working to create a pathway for underrepresented minorities to enter the tech industry, spoke about the oft-overlooked “tax on women,” which can be tricky to pin down because it takes so many shapes. Sometimes, it appears as the need to deflect unwanted sexual advancements. Other times, it exits as the exhausting mental gymnastics of making sure to speak up enough at work— without speaking up too much. The spectrum is vast and, when taken together, somewhat amorphous.
Which is why individual examples are so important. In Wang’s case, the “tax on women” wasn’t just the bad behavior she endured as a female founder. It was also the hours of work required to make sure that when she spoke up about it, the world would listen.