Preston-Warner Threatens Legal Action in Github Scandal Fallout
GitHub President Tom Preston-Werner is threatening legal action today against anyone who claims he engaged in gender-based harassment.
He wrote on his blog that GitHub’s investigation cleared his name and that, though he would be resigning today, he would not tolerate any continued allegations against him.
Wrote Preston-Werner: “Neither my wife, Theresa, nor I have ever engaged in gender-based harassment or discrimination. The results of GitHub’s independent investigation unequivocally confirm this and we are prepared to fight any further false claims on this matter to the full extent of the law.”
Meanwhile, the prominent engineer Julie Ann Horvath, who alleged gender-based harassment against the open source code platform co-founder, is calling the investigation a sham, in a series of tweets today after GitHub made its announcement. “There was no investigation,” said Horvath.
That both Preston-Werner and Horvath are responding in such public ways — and have seemingly found little common ground over the last month — is in keeping with this saga that began when Horvath first aired her allegations via Twitter on March 17.
Still, the controversy seems to be having little impact on Preston-Werner’s immediate career prospects, who said in his post that he is doing another startup in the immersive computing space.
“Since visiting the Oculus VR team at their office three months ago, I’ve come to believe that immersive computing (aka virtual reality) is poised to rival the personal computer, the web, social networking, and mobile devices in its impact,” wrote Preston-Werner.
The partners at venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, who have invested in GitHub, are standing by Preston-Werner, who complimented the venture firm in his post.
“I very much hope that Tom shows us his new idea when he’s ready,” wrote partner Margit Wennmachers to Re/code.
Here’s Preston-Werner’s full blog post below:
Farewell GitHub, Hello Immersive Computing
Today is my last day at GitHub. Recent events have given me a lot of time to reflect on what’s important to me, and I’ve decided to switch gears and focus on building something from scratch again. Since visiting the Oculus VR team at their office three months ago, I’ve come to believe that immersive computing (aka virtual reality) is poised to rival the personal computer, the web, social networking, and mobile devices in its impact. While the timing is more abrupt than I had intended, with everything that’s happened, I think now is the right time to do this, and I’d like to explain why.
First, I want to address the serious accusations that were made against me and my family over the past month. With every decision I made at GitHub and in every interaction I had with employees, I tried to treat people better than they expected and to resolve conflict with empathy. Despite that, I’ve made mistakes, and I am deeply sorry to anyone who was hurt by those mistakes. It devastates me to know that I missed the mark, and I will strive to do better, every day.
That said, I want to be very clear about one thing: Neither my wife, Theresa, nor I have ever engaged in gender-based harassment or discrimination. The results of GitHub’s independent investigation unequivocally confirm this and we are prepared to fight any further false claims on this matter to the full extent of the law. I believe in diversity and equality for all people in all professions, especially the tech sector. It’s immensely important to me and I will continue to do my very best to further that belief.
Unfortunately, the investigation and all the attention surrounding it have me concerned that remaining at GitHub would be a distraction for both me and the company. I’m incredibly proud of what I’ve helped build at GitHub and I don’t want the events of the past month to jeopardize that. I care too much about the company and the people here to let that happen. The GitHub team is incredibly strong, with fierce vision, and I have no doubt they will continue to revolutionize software development for decades to come. Founding and building GitHub has been the greatest adventure of my life. I’ve been so lucky to be on this journey with such amazing, helpful, talented, and real people. I’m going to miss working with such a great team, but I’m also insanely excited about the future.
Since the early days of GitHub, I’ve wanted to create a different kind of business. One that was Optimized for Happiness and built atop a Framework of Happiness. One where great people could work on hard problems together to create unbelievably good products. I believe I was able to achieve a great deal of success with that model at GitHub, even if things didn’t always go perfectly according to plan. All of this has been a tremendous learning experience for me.
Last January, I stepped down as CEO and handed that role over to cofounder Chris Wanstrath so I could focus on future-facing R&D projects with small teams. This kind of rapid, team-based innovation is what I live for. During my time away from GitHub I started experimenting with Go, OpenGL, and Unity with an eye towards the software side of immersive computing. It felt really good to get back into a code editor and challenge the deeply logical and analytical part of my brain. I’ve enjoyed the challenges of learning how to lead a company with hundreds of people, but it’s very hard for me to deny the allure of coding a system that could once again change the course of history.
I’m telling you this because I think stealth mode is bullshit and if you feel the same way I do about immersive computing then I want to talk with you about it. For the next few months I’m going to be living in Manhattan. My wife, Theresa, is currently participating in Techstars NYC as their very first nonprofit. Her startup, The Omakase Charity, helps donors learn about and support nonprofits that are changing the world with technology. She’s one of the strongest and most thoughtful women I know, and I’m hoping to help her succeed with her mission while I’m here.
Thank you to everyone that reached out to me over the last month, including the generous team at Andreessen Horowitz. Your support has made a huge difference and I’m truly excited for what’s next.