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Brotopia by Emily Chang

Brotopia by Emily Chang

Author:Emily Chang
Language: eng
Format: epub
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Published: 2018-02-06T05:00:00+00:00


THE PREDATORS IN VC

In 2013, an investor by the name of Justin Caldbeck, of Lightspeed Venture Partners, led an early investment in Stitch Fix and became a board observer. Multiple sources who were close to Lake at the time say that Caldbeck initially provided invaluable help to the promising start-up, including recruiting new Stitch Fix executives. But at some point he made Lake feel so uncomfortable that she asked Lightspeed to remove him from the board. The following year, Caldbeck left Lightspeed, ostensibly because he wanted to start his own fund, Binary Capital. Lake was asked to sign a nondisparagement agreement, mandating that neither party ever speak of what happened.

Jeremy Liew, a managing director at Lightspeed, told me, “Justin was with us for a few years. He made some excellent investments, and we mutually decided he would not be part of Fund 10,” that is, Lightspeed’s next fund. To some industry insiders, that was code for “he got fired.” Others I spoke to had never heard rumors of Caldbeck’s being disciplined for questionable behavior. Caldbeck and his new partner, Jonathan Teo, were able to raise $125 million for Binary Capital’s first fund, including a personal investment from Lightspeed partner Ravi Mhatre. Binary made several investments over the next two years. In the meantime, several female entrepreneurs discovered, by talking among themselves, that they weren’t the only ones Caldbeck had sexually harassed.

Caldbeck had walked on to the Duke University basketball team, got an MBA from Harvard, worked at McKinsey, Bain Capital Ventures, and then Lightspeed. He was once described to me as a “Walking LinkedIn,” an investor who can make an introduction to anyone and everyone. “He is an aggressive personality,” one female entrepreneur told me. “He gets deals done and gets to the right people. He is just a hustler.” Turns out Caldbeck didn’t just hustle deals.

In 2010, former Googler Niniane Wang started a co-working space for elite entrepreneurs called Sunfire. Sequoia, Benchmark, and other VC firms backed Sunfire in exchange for the opportunity to visit the office and interact with high-potential founders. Bain Capital Ventures, where Caldbeck then worked, was also a sponsor, and sent him as the firm’s representative. Every Thursday, Sunfire held drinks at a nearby bar from 6:00 to 7:00 p.m. One day, Caldbeck told Wang he wanted her opinion on a fashion start-up and asked if they could discuss it in person after the weekly drinks, saying he had a meeting beforehand. By the time he arrived, everyone had left but Wang. When she started to talk about the start-up, Caldbeck stopped her. “Let’s not talk about work,” he said. He went on to grill her about her dating history and comment about outfits she had worn that he thought she looked good in. “He asked to move to a booth,” Wang told me. “He sat so his body was touching my body. At one point, I agreed to let him embrace me.” When Caldbeck drove her home, he kept pressuring her to let him spend the night.



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