Do VCs Need A Conduct Board For Sexual Harassment?

July 20, 2017, 1:04 PM UTC
Fortune Brainstorm Tech 2017May 2-3, 2017: San Diego, CAAt our inaugural Brainstorm HEALTH conference, we focused on the best and brightest ideas in the digital health care revolution. In May, we’ll tackle how to speed up this disruption and seize t
054 WEDNESDAY, JULY 19, 2017 Fortune Brainstorm Tech 2017 Aspen, CO, USA 10:05 AM ON THE RECORD On June 22, veteran technology executive Niniane Wang and five other women went public with allegations of sexual harassment by the head of Binary Capital, a VC firm that has now all but shut down. Hear Niniane on how and why she was finally able to expose this behavior, what she believes are the systemic failings that led to this and other similar incidents and, critically, her specific suggestions for what should happen next. Niniane Wang, CEO, Evertoon Interviewer: Michal Lev-Ram, Fortune Photograph by Fortune Brainstorm Tech
Jordan Curet for Fortune Brainstorm Tech

Good morning one last time from Aspen, Colo., where yesterday afternoon for the first time this week a tremendous thunderstorm rolled through town. That was after Fortune Brainstorm Tech wrapped, with a thrilling final morning whose topics ranged from fake news to sexual harassment to national security.

I hosted a fast-paced panel with a trio of impressive journalists: Andrea Mitchell of NBC News, David Sanger of The New York Times, and Isaac Lee of Univision and Televisa. Fake news means at least two things: the criminal placement of fabricated stories on sites like Facebook (FB) and Twitter (TWTR) for profit or to damage some target, and also a put down the president of the United States labels stories he doesn’t like. (Time after time, Sanger noted, the “fake” stories the president identifies are proven to be true.)

Tim Sloan, the post-scandal CEO of Wells Fargo, appeared in Aspen to talk about tech, specifically a new comprehensive payment product Wells launched yesterday called Control Tower. Sloan said Wells (WFC) is focused on changing its gung-ho sales culture. He said it no longer tracks the average number of products its customers use. Tellingly, he referred to the physical locations where customers go as branches, just like other banks. Wells used to call them stores, a place where merchants sell things.

Niniane Wang, the entrepreneur who publicly accused a prospective investor of sexually harassing her, took the stage to discuss her recent experiences. Wang thinks venture capitalists should have a board of conduct for victims to report objectionable behavior. She talked at length about what it took to speak out. To her surprise, she’s receiving support from women and men alike in Silicon Valley.

John Brennan, the former CIA director, urged businesspeople to contact their members of Congress to urge them to find a way to tone down the nasty political dialogue. He also repeated past assertions that Donald Trump’s public criticism of U.S. intelligences agencies was “dishonorable.”

At the end of our conference we thanked our partner Walter Isaacson, who is retiring a CEO of the Aspen Institute, host of Brainstorm for many years. We also announced that for the first time we are taking Brainstorm Tech abroad. On December 5th and 6th we will convene Brainstorm Tech International in Guangzhou, China. Find out more about that new conference here.

I’ll close the week tomorrow with final thoughts from Brainstorm Tech.

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