15 Years is Enough Time: Silicon Valley’s Rape Problem

In a bygone era, 15 years ago, I was your typical “Silicon Valley insider.” I knew the right people, got invited to the right conferences, was a source for the right journalists. Then, somehow, for some reason, I started to do everything possible to distance myself from that world and those people. I seemed uninterested in collecting stock that was promised to me that, at today’s valuation, would be worth somewhere north of half a billion dollars. Instead, I began taking up a life of an outsider, operating as though I knew nothing and no one.

Why?

I’ve heard a lot of very interesting theories about why I did what I did. A lot of those conversations go something like, “I heard you tried to scam Facebook.” I would always laugh when I heard that particular line of thought — usually from some smug wannabe who thought he had the inside “dirt” on me — because it demonstrated just how easy it was to spread a lie.

And, more to the point, how easy it was to get away with picking up an underaged girl off the side of the road, raping her without a condom, and screwing over the guy who witnessed the entire ordeal — because that guy refused to allow the girl to be kicked to the curb without even a phone number. How, when you’re a former corporate officer at Facebook directly responsible for the fortunes of Mark Zuckerberg and Peter Thiel, everyone — Silicon Valley, state and national politicians, every element of the media, law enforcement — will seemingly let you get away with it. They might even help.

So, why wait 15 years? Well, a couple reasons. First, I needed time to truly process what had happened, and whether I was “making a big deal out of nothing,” as so many toxic people claimed. Second, I wanted to make sure that the predator in question couldn’t simply claim he was a changed man —years later, I wanted to trap him in his own lies once again, to prove that he was the scam artist in this entire ordeal, and that he had no remorse whatsoever. As I say, predators get off on getting away with it, and our man was going to do whatever it would take to hold on to that high — including, quite possibly, lying to the FBI.

And then there’s the other thing: I wanted to see what my peers, and all of the people surrounding me, would do in the midst of such behavior. And what I found was what we all know: they did nothing. They never called out this person for being a known predator, who likely associated with other men who acted in a similarly predator manner. Nobody said anything, and everyone helped cover up all of this sort of behavior. My own lawyer — the head of the corporate department at one of the largest law firms in the world — seemed more interested in protecting a rapist’s reputation than making sure this sort of behavior was driven out of the corporate world. And that’s after the whole #MeToo thing, and at a firm filled with some of the most talented women in the legal profession.

So yeah, I think 15 years is enough time. Let’s start talking. And to begin, I just want to say to the women in Silicon Valley, and in general: I’m so, so sorry for everything with which you have to deal. I grew up in a female-led household and thought it was a given that women were, at the very least, equal to men; learning that this was not the norm has been the greatest shock of my adult life. To all of the women who feel like they’re constantly battling a predatory culture inside of Silicon Valley, that the entire industry is constantly gaslighting them, I just want you to know: what I have directly seen and experienced is proof that you’re not crazy. It’s real. The men in this industry are that bad. In fact, they’re worse than you know, because it seems they prey upon broke, powerless young girls and women in faraway places to help cover their tracks. (As I put it to a friend: “American Psycho with a private jet.”)

The fact that I am one of the only men in Silicon Valley — perhaps the first? — to call out another man for being a sexual predator, in 2021, is insanity. To all of the men in this industry who’ve ever wondered why I’ve had such a dismissive attitude toward them, now you know: deep down inside, I always wonder if you’re no different than the celebrated, respected rapist in the “Facebook Mafia.” I fully understand why so many women in our industry are “paranoid” and “difficult to work with” — sorry guys, but the women are just acting on their instinct that there’s something totally wrong with the men in this industry. And they’re 100% correct.

So, it’s been 15 years before I started talking about this. I’ve been taking notes — for 15 years. I’m done. Maybe nobody else reading this will care, but that doesn’t matter: I’m writing this as a public notice to those who deal with me — particularly in the context of work — so they know exactly what sort of person I am, and that I am open to these sorts of conversations. I get it. I’ve been there. And, rather than collecting a large amount of money to shut up about it, I watched and waited and observed, and hoped someone would stand up and do what’s right. For 15 years.

It would be great if a public dialogue got started at some point, as the world has so, so much to talk about: how large corporations can lock up every major law firm to make it nearly impossible to sue them; how monopoly power over news traffic means Facebook evades anything beyond softball criticism (even when it appears to be a shot in the face); how the predatory, exploitative methods of modern-day Silicon Valley come from a truly dark place… But, I think I’ve done enough talking for now. I think it’s time for others to speak up — and I’m talking about other men, because we have had years and years of brave, fearless women standing up and speaking the truth.

Men need to step out of the shadows. Refuse to be part of the problem. Refuse to keep making mistakes. There’s an old saying in our industry: “greatness is iterative” — well, if the men of Silicon Valley and the corporate world are truly deserving of the “greatness” over which they obsess, they’re going to have to iterate and start to speaking up about what they’ve seen, and what they’re going to do about it. Don’t be shy, boys — we know you’ve seen more than you’re letting on.

Well, that’s all for now. I’m sure that, if this ever ends up getting any attention, Facebook’s legal counsel will have something to say about the assertion that their company was practically co-founded by a sexual predator (which, hey, explains quite a bit about that company, doesn’t it?), to which I say: I dare you to prove otherwise. And when you start to go down that path, keep in mind that it turned out to be a very good thing I forced your treasured former executive to give the underaged girl his phone number: she ended up needing money for Planned Parenthood. And, because your ex-colleague claimed the girl was “scamming” him (such chivalry!), that money had to be sent to her by another guy, whom your ex-colleague reimbursed using a paper check, the canceled copy of which might be sitting in a warehouse in Washington D.C. right now. So, keep this in mind if you want to claim — as the FBI told me your golden boy told them — that, “it never happened.”

I also hope Facebook won’t claim that this guy “wasn’t working for us at the time,” when everyone knew he was simply operating in stealth mode (as board member Peter Thiel was quoted as saying years later, “I don’t think [he] ever really left.”). And I hope they won’t try to put Sheryl Sandberg or another female face on a problem that involves the toxic male executives who actually control Facebook. (By the way, Sheryl might want a pretty thorough understanding of the men who were responsible for a chunk of her fortune before instructing women to “lean in” — because that’s exactly what that underaged girl did when our car pulled up next to her as she rode her bike.)

Oh, and for all of the fresh-faced newcomers to Silicon Valley: when someone promises you 0.1% of their startup if you help them out, just laugh and send them this link, and ask them if they’re going to end up screwing you over when that 0.1% turns out to be worth more money than they expected. And ask if they’ve ever raped anyone, or if that’s on their bucket list of things to do when they’re rich.

(One last thing: if you’re a current or former Facebook employee who stumbles upon this and decides they want to take a shot at me, please consider what your stock options would be worth if, in 2006, one of the bullet points about your company was, “one of the key executives raped an underaged girl.” To borrow a line from a mutual “friend” of ours: “I hope you’re enjoying spending my money.”)