Pavel Curda, the European Angel investor and ‘mentor’ who became the centre of a media maelstrom after admitting to emailing point-blank requests for sex to tech business women at a conference, has been shunned by the tech accelerators he continues to list as working with him.
Curda has now been dumped by at least three accelerators, as well as losing his role as a writer with tech blog, The Next Web.
The furore followed reports that outlined in detail how he had sent emails with “I am not leave [sic.] Berlin without having sex with you. Deal?” to at least two women at the conference after meeting them in a purely business environment. The row exploded after both women, incensed at his behaviour, went public with the media, including TechCrunch.
Seedcamp, Europe’s best funded venture accelerator, issued a statement saying: “As you’ll have gathered, Pavel has been involved with Seedcamp in the past – he mentored at two of our events. We were shocked and saddened to hear about his behaviour and our thoughts are very much in congruence with the folks at TNW and TechCrunch. Clearly, we in no way endorse this type of behaviour and suffice to say, we won’t be working with Pavel again.”
Alex Farcet, Co-founder at Startupbootcamp in Berlin, said: ”This man is not a mentor at Startupbootcamp and if he was then we would immediately throw him out… [This is] totally unacceptable behaviour which no one should tolerate.”
Following that, Startupbootcamp also issued a statement in a blog post saying: “Curda is no longer affiliated with any of the Startupbootcamp programs. His behavior is completely unacceptable and absolutely not tolerated here. We do not wish to publicly shame Curda or draw any more attention to the women, but we also believe that the best way to deal with sexual harassment in this industry is to speak openly about it. We applaud the women for their courage in coming forward and speaking out, and encourage raising awareness through open dialogue.”
Agnieszka Meller, manager of the Starter Rocket acceleration program in Gdansk, Poland, said: “I would like to publicly condemn Mr. Curda behaviour and inform that we will not continue any cooperation with him… Mr. Curda is no longer a mentor of Starter Rocket program.”
Neeraj Mehta, co-founder of RockYourPaper in Tallinn, Estonia, said: “Pavel was on our advisory board a while ago, however on our very first meeting he asked about hookers, and I was taken by surprise. That was the time I had warned a lot of startup incubators in Europe about his behaviour and to be careful.”
Curda has also been dumped by Deutsche Telecom’s accelerator hub:raum, Inkubator Starter in Poland, and Hubraum Krakow. Despite continuing to list them, he has not worked with Starcube in Czech Republic or Seedcamp for two years.
However, some elements of the tech community in the Czech Republic where Curda is based have given him something of an easier ride.
Journalist Milos Cermaks, Editor in Chief of Ihned.cz recently met with Curda and subsequently wrote a soft-ball article describing Curda as a “popular consultant and investor” in Eastern Europe and largely writing off his actions as drink-fuelled and committed in the heat of the moment.
Another, Jiri Sekera, a Prague-based advisor to the CEE event WebExpo who runs the Prague based web agency Refresh, tweeted: “One would almost got the impression that @pavelcurda is the first person in the history of mankind, which offered the opposite sex casual sex, right?”
Most of his Czech respondents disagreed with this assessment, pointing out that Curda was the more ‘senior actor’ and therefore had more responsibility to behave appropriately in a business setting and context.
Later Sekera tweeted: “Strange … when I was given unwanted offers for non-binding sex from rich and influential women, TechCrunch did not write about it …”
(Update: Sekera says his tweets were taken out of context and points to his Facebook comment: “I definitely support and admire Geshe and Lucie in fighting against serious sexual harassment, but this was just a personal drunk message followed by unnecessary lame lies. I think smart answer like “Enjoy the rest of the life in Berlin then.” would be more than enough. And power of this public coming-out could be used for many better opportunities.” He later added: “Its hypocritical to act like this is not a regular part of people’s sex lives. Especially in these circles.”)
When asked his reaction to being banned from working with the above accelerators, Curda emailed us the following: “I apologised to both of the great girls I met in Berlin, before the tech event, for my rude messages. There was no business deal or business offer to them in Berlin or afterwards. Some in the media got this wrong.”
[In fact this contradicts Curda’s previous statement that he had engaged only in wholly business-oriented conversations with the women, and later offered mentorship to one of them after she had confronted him about his emails to complain].
Though Curda’s unfortunately crass attempts at apologies are something, as previous reports noted they only came after he’d claimed his email was hacked (twice)and only after the women confronted him offline and online.
He added: “However, this has been a big lesson learned. And I will change my behaviour. The tech industry should change — sexual harassment is a big topic. There is a lot of hypocrisy, too. I will tell my Berlin story and collect the experience of others. I will publish it in a book I will call ‘Ich bin ein Berliner’.”
He plans to continue as an Angel investor.
TechCrunch has no further comment, other than to say, that — as a general observation — being stupid and wrong is really no way to go through life.