Tesla, SpaceX Director Jurvetson on Leave After Misconduct Claims

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Steve Jurvetson

Photographer: Steve Jennings/Getty Images North America

Steve Jurvetson resigned from his venture capital firm DFJ and took a leave of absence from the boards of Tesla Inc. and Space Exploration Technologies Corp. after claims of misconduct against him. He denied the allegations.

Jurvetson, who’s known for backing Elon Musk’s companies, said he’s leaving his VC firm “to focus on personal matters, including taking legal action against those whose false statements have defamed me.”

DFJ said last month that it had hired a law firm to investigate Jurvetson after hearing indirect allegations about potential misconduct. On Monday, Jurvetson resigned from DFJ “by mutual agreement,” said Carol Wentworth, a spokeswoman for the firm. “DFJ’s culture has been, and will continue to be, built on the values of respect and integrity in all of our interactions,” she wrote in an email.

Besides Jurvetson’s close relationship with Musk, he made an early and successful bet on Hotmail before Microsoft Corp. acquired it. Jurvetson has maintained a high profile in recent weeks. In October, he hosted a fireside chat with Gwynne Shotwell, SpaceX’s president and a fellow board member, on the campus of Stanford University. Last week, he spoke at a New Space Age conference at Seattle’s Museum of Flight. He’s continued to post photographs of his travels and speaking engagements on his Flickr page.

Several other Silicon Valley venture capitalists and prominent business figures, such as Dave McClure from 500 Startups, Justin Caldbeck from Binary Capital and Mike Cagney from SoFi, have resigned in recent months after being accused of sexual harassment and other abusive behavior in the workplace. McClure and Caldbeck apologized; Cagney denied allegations.

Last month, a Los Angeles-based entrepreneur, Keri Kukral, wrote in a Facebook post: “Women approached by founding partners of Draper Fisher Jurvetson should be careful. Predatory behavior is rampant.”

The uncertainty on Tesla’s board comes at a critical time for the automaker. The company is struggling with early production of the Model 3, a more affordable and hotly anticipated electric sedan. After a couple delays, Tesla plans to unveil a fully electric big rig at a late-night event Thursday in Hawthorne, California. Meanwhile, the closely held SpaceX has its 17th launch of the year slated for Wednesday from Florida.

In addition to Musk’s companies, Jurvetson sits on the boards of D-Wave Systems Inc., Memphis Meats, Mythic, Planet Labs Inc. and Synthetic Genomics Inc.

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