The chief executive of a crypto charity has resigned following what his own company described as “misogynistic” comments aimed at women in the Australian venture capital and startup space.
GiveTree founder and CEO Sam Joel made the comments in response to an article about advocating for women in startups featuring Human VC founder Elaine Stead that was shared on LinkedIn.
Among his now-deleted comments, seen by various media outlets, Joel allegedly wrote on LinkedIn and in emails to several women:
“Get out of your period. Get good. Earn your salary with skill, not pr lol. Pathetic.”
“Hit yourself and then abort.”
“Are you single? Should we have a better baby?” […] Assuming I want to fuck you, because let’s be honest, look. Fat.”
GiveTree CEO Sam Joel has resigned after “misogynistic” comments on LinkedIn.
She also wrote that diversity “might be the dumbest s**t of the entire century” and claimed that women “have somehow gotten majority employment in most verticals now. And yet. Whining. Classical women.
Among the women targeted by his abusive comments were Stead, the founder and CEO of fintech PR firm Third Hemisphere, Hannah Moreno, and the founder and CEO of super fintech comparator Super Fierce, Trenna Probert.
An uproar ensued on LinkedIn, with his targets and other community members reporting his comments to the social media platform.
LinkedIn’s decision that the comments did not contravene its professional community policies left many wondering whether the social media giant was involved in perpetuating the abuse.
Human VC founder Elaine Stead was the subject of the article Joel commented on.LinkedIn
“If LinkedIn doesn’t see that as sexual harassment, and its remedy is simple (delete the comments and remove the commenter), is it any wonder our physical workplaces don’t respond appropriately?” Stead wrote in a subsequent article for Medium.
GiveTree later posted an apology on LinkedIn and Joel revealed that he was stepping down as CEO.
GiveTree’s statement read in part: “Over the weekend, our founder Sam Joel made some very inappropriate and hurtful comments toward women on LinkedIn.
“Unfortunately, these recent comments are part of a wider and ongoing pattern of behavior from Sam, which urgently needs to change.
“Therefore, Sam would like to apologize wholeheartedly for the harm he has caused to these and all women through his words and actions.
“He understands that any act of sexism against a woman makes the world a less safe place for all women.
The company said Joel would also “attend therapy to address his sexist and, at times, misogynistic behavior toward women.”
“You will also use therapy to address underlying issues stemming from post-traumatic stress disorder due to a period of homelessness and loss of family members.”
Hannah Moreno responds after Joel’s comments.LinkedIn Trenna Probert also issued a statement about the misogynistic rant.LinkedIn
In a personal apology, also posted on LinkedIn, Joel wrote: “I started GiveTree five years ago when I was homeless in an internet cafe.
“My goal was to help people not hurt them.
“After speaking with Hannah Moreno and Elaine Stead, it is now clear to me that my words and actions have deeply hurt people and no longer align with GiveTree’s core values, nor the reason I started GiveTree in the first place.
“One of the concrete steps I am taking to take responsibility for my words and actions is to step down as CEO.
“Women and men deserve to be treated with respect and that is non-negotiable.
“I would like to take this opportunity to apologize to everyone I have hurt and express my deep gratitude to Hannah for her incredible communication and guidance that has helped me see what I need to do to change my behavior permanently, starting today.
“I hope that my actions in the months and years ahead demonstrate my commitment to this outcome.”
Joel wrote a personal apology to Moreno and Stead.X / Elaine Stead
Reports have emerged of other women he had previously attacked on social media and The Australian Financial Review reported that Joel was also asked to leave Fishburners, a Sydney-based startup incubator, late last year after who was accused of persistently harassing members and staff.
“Sam was initially welcomed because we were inspired by his story,” said Alan Jones, who was CEO of Fishburners at the time.
But Jones added that “we had to ask him to leave” because of allegations of bullying and harassment.
GiveTree uses crypto technology to help video games donate money.