In December 2014, Uber held its annual vacation get together on an unfurnished flooring at its swank, temper-lit headquarters in San Francisco. Employees and buyers attended in flamboyant apparel from the “Roaring ‘20s” and drank at an open bar into the early morning hours. Venture capitalist Shervin Pishevar, a number of attendees recall, introduced a stay pony on a leash.
Pishevar, an early backer of the experience-hailing firm who was a board observer on the time, allegedly did one thing else memorable that night time. According to present and former colleagues with information of the occasions that night, the then 40-year previous investor approached Austin Geidt, Uber’s 30-year-previous head of international enlargement, positioned his hand on her leg and moved it up her gown. Geidt squirmed away, the colleagues say.
It was not the primary time Pishevar had made advances towards Geidt, which she declined to reciprocate, in response to the colleagues. Geidt joined Uber Technologies Inc. as an intern in 2010. She was quickly tasked with launching Uber in new cities, the place Pishevar, a serious Democratic Party donor, provided invaluable political and enterprise connections.
Over the years, these individuals say, Pishevar appeared to take a liking to Geidt, following her round at firm occasions, and at occasions putting his hand on her leg or decrease again. An individual with firsthand information of the vacation social gathering incident and these different encounters confirmed the account of Pishevar’s conduct to Bloomberg. Geidt, who’s now head of operations for Uber’s autonomous driving unit, declined to remark for this story.
Five different ladies who met Pishevar in knowledgeable context informed Bloomberg they have been sexually assaulted or harassed by him. In every case, the ladies accused Pishevar of exploiting knowledgeable connection, and utilizing the prospect of a job, mentorship or funding to make an undesirable sexual advance. They all requested to not be recognized, citing fears over the investor’s historical past of submitting lawsuits and considerations that he might wield his affect within the tech business to damage their careers. Earlier this yr, Pishevar received a U.Okay. courtroom to ban an area newspaper from reporting on his arrest following a rape allegation towards him. London police investigated and didn’t cost him. He later sued what he described as an opposition analysis agency, claiming it was making an attempt to unfold false allegations about him.
In an emailed assertion, an lawyer for Pishevar says he and his then girlfriend made a quick look at Uber’s vacation celebration with the horse, which was sporting a Santa hat. He denied touching Geidt inappropriately then or making sexual advances towards her at different occasions. Randa Osman, his lawyer at Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, says Pishevar and Geidt maintained “a friendly, professional relationship” and referenced emails from 2015 and 2016 by which she agreed to satisfy him for lunch and occasional.
An individual, who was referred to Bloomberg by Pishevar’s spokesman however requested to not be recognized, says she attended the Uber celebration and didn’t witness the alleged incident. She confirms that Pishevar left the occasion after a brief interval of time and says he wouldn’t have been capable of contact Geidt as a result of he was holding the horse’s leash in a single hand and a drink within the different. She says she wasn’t with Pishevar the complete time and by no means noticed Geidt.
Like Hollywood, Washington and New York City, Silicon Valley is in an ethical disaster after a litany of revelations about predatory conduct by highly effective males. Venture capitalists Justin Caldbeck of Binary Capital, Steve Jurvetson of DFJ and Dave McClure of 500 Startups all left their companies following accusations of misconduct. Roy Price, the previous head of Amazon Studios, resigned in October after a producer accused him of sexual harassment.
Pishevar, co-founder and managing director of Sherpa Capital, is a strong determine within the Valley and a bridge to institution figures on each coasts. He cultivated a relationship with Uber co-founder Travis Kalanick and publicly got here to his protection when he was ousted as chief government officer and sued by one other investor. Pishevar made a formal request in August to hitch that lawsuit so his help for Kalanick might be heard. In addition to investing in Uber, he made early bets on Airbnb Inc., Warby Parker and Tumblr, which Yahoo bought for $1.1 billion.
Over the years, Pishevar has given greater than $500,000 to Democratic candidates and committees, together with the presidential campaigns of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. President Obama appointed him to the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board in 2015. He can also be the co-founder and co-government chairman of Virgin Hyperloop One, which is looking for to develop a futuristic tube-based mostly transportation system with Richard Branson. Pishevar is near a number of Hollywood celebrities, together with Leonardo DiCaprio and Edward Norton and briefly dated Tyra Banks in 2014. After Donald Trump defeated Clinton final yr, Pishevar publicly advised California ought to secede from the U.S.
The 5 ladies who spoke to Bloomberg say Pishevar used his place of energy to pursue romantic relationships and undesirable sexual encounters. Pishevar’s representatives declined to touch upon these allegations earlier than publication however later despatched a press release saying, “We are confident that these anecdotes will be shown to be untrue.”
One feminine entrepreneur says Pishevar requested to satisfy together with her a couple of years in the past to debate investing in her firm. During a dinner assembly, she says Pishevar began to hit on her, although she made it clear she was solely enthusiastic about a enterprise relationship. Pishevar tried to earn some sympathy by explaining that he and his spouse have been getting a divorce. (They filed for divorce in 2013, courtroom data present.) Later within the night, she says Pishevar pressured himself on her, kissing and groping her. “I’m pushing back and trying to talk about anything else,” the entrepreneur recollects. “It is really shady, this baiting and switching that he does.”
Another feminine tech employee says she reached out to Pishevar to debate profession alternatives in 2013. She met him for dinner at a San Francisco restaurant, and afterward, he invited her again to his residence. She went as a result of that they had not but talked about potential jobs. When they received there, the lady says Pishevar forcibly kissed her. “He basically jumped on me, tried to put his tongue down my throat, and I stopped it,” she says. “I wanted to get career advice, and it was twisted into something else. It was really inappropriate.”
Also in 2013, a lady Pishevar had employed to work for him says he repeatedly tried to strain her into having intercourse with him. She says she informed him a number of occasions she didn’t need to lead him within the improper path and was not all for a romantic relationship, together with in a Facebook message reviewed by Bloomberg. Still, she says that on a visit, he booked them a single lodge room and that night time tried to carry out oral intercourse on her till she satisfied him to cease. “It felt really wrong, and it was really confusing at the time,” she says. “I just remember his big body on top of me. I was young enough to be his daughter.” She says one of the few individuals she confided in was her sister, who recounted their dialog to Bloomberg and described the occasions as an enduring trauma.
A fourth lady says Pishevar employed her firm to do work for him in 2015. He invited her to a celebration in Los Angeles. Late that night, the lady says Pishevar cornered her and forcibly kissed her. She pushed him off, however within the weeks that adopted, she says he repeatedly harassed her. “I was so uncomfortable; it was one of the most uncomfortable situations I’ve ever been in,” she says. “He was basically trying to bully me into dating him.” She insisted that she needed to maintain the connection skilled, and ultimately he gave up. She informed a good friend on the time, who later relayed the small print of her account to Bloomberg.
At the Web Summit in Dublin in November 2013, Pishevar spoke onstage with Tesla Inc.’s Elon Musk. One night time on the convention, one other feminine entrepreneur says she visited a set on the Shelbourne Dublin lodge the place Pishevar had convened an after-social gathering with different founders and buyers. Gradually, numerous partygoers disappeared into adjoining rooms, and the entrepreneur discovered herself alone on the sofa, seated between Pishevar and one other man. Pishevar was holding a telephone—she doesn’t recall who it belonged to—and commenced displaying her pictures of vaginas. “They start showing me photos of female genitalia,” the lady says. “It became really scary. The other guy was just really, really nasty, and Shervin was just laughing and swiping the photos.” The lady says she texted a pal who rescued her earlier than anything occurred.
On May 27, 2017, Pishevar was arrested in London after a lady accused him of raping her on the Ned lodge. Pishevar was “released under investigation” and by no means charged, in accordance with London police. He secured an injunction stopping at the very least one publication, the Sun newspaper, from reporting on the arrest. Afterward, Pishevar prolonged his journey to remain in London for about three weeks and informed individuals he was unable to journey as a result of a perforated eardrum, three individuals say. In June, he despatched an e mail to staff at Sherpa Capital saying he’d had a medical emergency. Eventually, he was capable of return house to San Francisco.
Police confirmed they investigated the alleged incident on the Ned and ultimately determined that no additional motion can be taken, based on a London police spokesman. He didn’t elaborate on the idea for that call, in step with police coverage. Pishevar says he was detained briefly and that the assault declare was unfaithful. Pishevar employed Mark Fabiani, a disaster administration professional who additionally represents the Los Angeles Chargers soccer staff and Bill O’Reilly, the previous Fox News host ousted over sexual harassment allegations. Fabiani says: “In May 2017, Mr. Pishevar was detained briefly in London in connection with an alleged sexual assault, an allegation he categorically denied. He fully cooperated with the police investigation which was exhaustive and detailed. In July he was informed that no further action would be taken against him, and he was ‘de-arrested’ (a British legal term).”
Earlier this month, Pishevar sued a consulting agency run by Republican marketing campaign veterans and accused it of spreading false details about him. The agency, Definers Public Affairs, stated in a press release that it has by no means carried out work relating to Pishevar and referred to as his claims “delusional.” Every week later, the Sun reported that it efficiently challenged Pishevar’s gag order within the U.Okay.’s High Court after he had spent £100,000 ($130,000) on the case.
Nevertheless, Pishevar’s authorized actions had an influence. Some of the ladies who shared allegations of Pishevar’s misbehavior with Bloomberg had initially agreed to be recognized by identify. After his lawsuit, they withdrew their names, citing the authorized dangers of talking out.
— With help by Olivia Zaleski, Eric Newcomer, Sarah McBride, Ellen Huet, Giles Turner, and Tony Aarons