It’s been a week filled with apologies from prominent tech entrepreneurs, on the heels of a damning New York Times report highlighting widespread sexual harassment in Silicon Valley.
Marc Canter, a self-proclaimed “software dude” and co-founder of Macromedia, said in a blog post he’s sorry for inappropriately messaging a woman he was helping advise. 43-year-old Wendy Dent — whose Cinemmerse startup makes an app for smartwatches — said she was the target of crude remarks from Canter in 2014, after turning to the entrepreneur to help find a co-founder.
Canter said Dent was a “sorceress casting a spell” in one of the messages. He added “know what I’m thinking? Why am I sending you this — in private?” after commenting on a blue dress she was wearing.
Curiously, Canter told the Times his comments were part of a strategy to turn Dent away; he was put off by her forwardness, saying she “came on strong to me, asking for help.”
His tune changed, somewhat, in his blog post. After apologizing, Canter said “I never intended to hurt Wendy, to betray her or to in anyway – lead her on or seduce her. This is back 2 years ago when she approached me.”
Canter was mentioned alongside well-known venture capitalists Chris Sacca and Dave McClure in the report. Both Sacca and McClure had issued their own blog apologies earlier this week, with McClure resigning as a general partner at venture capital fund 500 Startups on Monday. Being included with Sacca and McClure put Canter under the microscope — something he was not thrilled with in his blog.
“By being included in a story about Dave McClure and Chris Sacca – I have received a whole lotta attention – whether I deserve it or not,” said Canter.
Still, Dent wasn’t the only woman this week to call out Canter’s behavior. Danah Boyd, a principal researcher at Microsoft and adjunct professor at New York University, said in a Medium post preceding Canter’s blog he “repeatedly” propositioned her for a threesome.
“At the time, I was young and I was genuinely scared of him; I spent a lot of time and emotional energy avoiding him, and struggled with how to navigate him at various conferences,” said Boyd. “I wasn’t the only one who faced his lewd comments, often framed as being sex-positive even when they were an abuse of power.”
Boyd then outlined four categories for men in tech to keep in mind — Recognition, Repentance, Respect, and Reparation.
Canter acknowledged and apologized for the failed threesome in his blog post, saying it was “stupid and wrong.” He then parroted Boyd’s “Four ‘Rs'” approach to wrap up his mea culpa.