A sexually charged email has got the tech community up in arms. Valley Wag is reporting that technology writer and investor Pavel Curda sent a crude, sexually charged email to Gesche Haas. Ms. Haas works for a startup named Conjure.io, and met Curda at an industry event. Here’s what you need to know about this story.
1. Curda & Haas Met at an Industry Event
— Stephology ∞ (@StephStartsOver) August 19, 2014
You can see the message that Haas claims to have received from Curda in the embedded tweet above. Haas claims that the message above from Curda was waiting in her email inbox after attending an industry event in Berlin. The event included a 20-minute sit-down with Curda.
Valley Wag’s Sam Biddle spoke with Haas about the incident:
“‘I was so flustered,’ she told me via telephone. ‘I couldn’t sleep for an hour or two. What did I indicate to him?’ She was less reluctant the next day, when another woman at the conference said she’d received the exact same email: ‘that eliminated the factor that I’d brought this on myself.’ When Haas next saw Curda—who did not reply to any request for comment—she told him his email was ‘inappropriate,’ and never spoke to him again.
When we spoke, Haas still seemed nervous that she’d brought this on herself, a month later, added that she’d only had one drink during the exchange. She also worries that by sharing this story, ‘people will think I’m just trying to get attention.'”
2. Pavel Curda Claimed His Account Was Hacked
Related to my last RT: Looks like @pavelcurda is playing the old "account was hacked" card. Riiiight.
— Aaron Crocco (@AaronCrocco) August 19, 2014
Curda appears to be claiming that his account was recently hacked. His tweet on the matter does not mention Haas by name, but it could be viewed as a way to distance himself from the sexual harassment allegations that are flying throughout the blogosphere.
Many of you witnessed in past weeks, my gmail was hacked. Sorry for weird messages you might have received. Do not open any attachments
— Pavel Curda (@pavelcurda) August 19, 2014
That being said, at least one person asked Curda on Twitter if he had been hacked.
hi @pavelcurda, I just got a random wealth management doc from you. Is that a spam hack or just how you do stuff?
— Rohan Gunatillake (@rohan_21awake) August 8, 2014
The day after Valley Wag reported on this story, Curda issued an apology. It reads:
“I regret sending the messages while I was in Berlin in July, mentioned recently in the press. I apologise for them and I am ready to apologise again in person with a big bouquet of flowers.”
3. Many Women in Tech Have Been Similarly Harassed
— CNN Tech (@cnntech) March 17, 2014
Valley Wag has made a concerted effort in recent weeks to cover stories about women in the tech industry who have been affected by “sleazy” male behavior. Valley Wag recently covered the story of Evan Spiegel, the CEO of Snapchat, and his history of sending emails that objectify women. More recently, Valley Wag covered the “perils of fundraising while female,” and noted that many women in the tech industry who are harassed keep the name of their harasser out of the press, fearing retribution.
4. Y Combinator Has Taken a Public Stance Against Sexual Harassment
While some corners of the tech industry do seem to have an unsavory element, other people in the tech industry are taking action against the recent wave of sexual harassment in the tech sector. For example, TechCrunch reports that Y Combinator recently made a public statement about its zero-tolerance policy for sexual harassment toward founders.
Y-Combinator, a “seed accelerator” for start-ups, warns harassers that “Y Combinator will not continue to work with you.” A recent post on Secret further highlighted the issue of female tech founders being harassed by male investors.
5. Men & Women Are Calling Out Curda on Twitter
@pavelcurda woh, dude. that defense was weak. hacker must've known about meet up, geolocation and timed it perfect.
— Titan Lee (@titanlyy) August 19, 2014
Both men and women are calling out Curda on Twitter, either to mock his “I was hacked” claim, or just generally sharing their disgust at this alleged activities. Here are some more examples of what people are saying about Pavel Curda on Twitter.
— Allyson Kapin (@WomenWhoTech) August 9, 2014
— -=CULLEN (@cullend) August 19, 2014
— Michele Mitchell (@michelefilmat11) August 19, 2014