Sil­i­con Val­ley firm com­pil­ing list of in­vestors who ha­rass women

The Denver Post - - BUSINESS - By El­iz­a­beth Dwoskin

SAN FRAN­CISCO» Faced with a bur­geon­ing sex­ual ha­rass­ment cri­sis, lead­ers in Sil­i­con Val­ley have come up with a very Sil­i­con Val­ley so­lu­tion: Use tech­nol­ogy to cre­ate a black­list.

One of the re­gion’s most prom­i­nent firms re­cently emailed an on­line re­port­ing form to 3,500 en­trepreneurs, en­cour­ag­ing them to blow the whis­tle on sex­ual ha­rass­ment by ven­ture cap­i­tal­ists. Now it is also con­sid­er­ing cre­at­ing an app that could pro­vide reviews of fi­nanciers, akin to Yelp or the work­place-re­view site Glass­door.

“We don’t call it a black­list, but that is essen­tially what is hap­pen­ing,” Kat Manalac, a part­ner at the in­flu­en­tial start-up in­cu­ba­tor Y Com­bi­na­tor, said of the blast e-mail. “There has al­ways been a whis­per net­work, where in­vestors and en­trepreneurs know which other in­vestors are bad ac­tors.” Two other groups are also launch­ing tech start-ups to help vic­tims share their ex­pe­ri­ences.

The ef­forts by Y Com­bi­na­tor and oth­ers are part of the in­dus­try’s ur­gent search for an­swers in the wake of sex­ual ha­rass­ment scan­dals that have ce­mented Sil­i­con Val­ley’s rep­u­ta­tion as hos­tile to women.

Anony­mous apps, black­lists and data­bases could back­fire — on the mak­ers of the apps, on peo­ple who felt un­fairly ac­cused or on women them­selves — and ex­ac­er­bate the prob­lem of gen­der dis­crim­i­na­tion and ha­rass­ment, said De­bra Katz, a part­ner with Katz Mar­shall and Banks, a Washington, D.C.-based firm spe­cial­iz­ing in em­ploy­ment law.

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