- Robert Scoble is a well-known US tech figure who blogs about technology and is a regular feature at conferences Three women in tech, including a former colleague at Rackspace, have come forward to accuse Scoble of inappropriate behaviour and harassment between 2009 and 2014 One said he “grabbed [her] butt” at an event, while his former colleague said she left Rackspace as a result
Three women have accused high-profile tech evangelist and writer Robert Scoble of sexual and verbal harassment.
Michelle Greer, Scoble’s former colleague at Rackspace; journalist Quinn Norton; and ProDay founder Sarah Kunst all said Scoble acted inappropriately with them, mostly around 2009 and 2010 onwards. We first saw Greer’s comments via BuzzFeed, while Norton and Kunst wrote about their experiences on Medium and Twitter.
Robert Scoble is well-known in certain tech circles. He rose to prominence as a “technical evangelist” at Microsoft, where he kept a regular blog about the company, winning readers with uncensored and often harsh opinions about the company. He took up a similar role at Rackspace in 2009 to build out a content network for the web hosting firm, called Building43. Most recently, he became entrepreneur-in-residence at UploadVR, which was sued by an employee for sexual harassment claims.
Norton kicked off the claims against Scoble in a Medium post published on Thursday. She accused Scoble first of groping and kissing a woman too drunk to consent and, later, of “grabbing my butt” and groping her breast. The alleged incidents took place in “the early 2010s” at Foo Camp, an annual hacker conference run by O’Reilly Media.
Founder Tim O’Reilly said the company banned Scoble from future events but admitted it “could have done more.”
Responding to Norton’s post, ProDay founder Kunst said she had been “verbally harassed” by Scoble and his wife in 2014 at Dent, an annual conference in Idaho. She criticised Dent for continuing to invite Scoble, even after she’d warned the organisers of his alleged behaviour. Dent said it took all allegations seriously, but did not comment further.
You can read her tweets here:
— sarah kunst (@sarahkunst) October 20, 2017
Greer, speaking to BuzzFeed, said Scoble had touched her inappropriately while she worked on the Building43 project with him at Rackspace. She said her team had gone out for drinks and Scoble, in front of his manager and other colleagues, touched her leg.
“I remember seeing him with two drinks in his hand,” she said. “My boss sat next to me, and Scoble sits across from me and starts touching my leg.”
Greer escaped to her room and was eventually let go by Rackspace after her performance was affected by the incident.
A Rackspace spokesman said: “Rackspace condemns any form of harassment. We are aware of the allegations reported in the media today and are monitoring the development of this story closely.”
Scoble has been vocal about women in tech, and the trauma of abuse.
In November 2014, Scoble talked about his own abuse at the hands of a family friend, noting that the friend had himself been abused as a child.
In April this year, he complained about sexual harassment of women in social VR, saying the industry needed to fix the problem.
Scoble has acknowledged, but not addressed the allegations.
He stated on his Facebook page he would post a video announcement early on Friday morning but, in a message to Business Insider, said he had postponed the video in order to discuss the allegations with his wife, Maryam Scoble.
The allegations follow a stream of reports of sexual harassment in tech. Amazon Studios head Roy Price was suspended last week after allegations of harassment.
If you have experienced harassment issues in tech or venture capital, please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.