Ready, aim... Ignition! Valley VC bigwig ejects after conduct complaints

Firm needs a new anti-harassment trainer after blowup

Frank Artale, managing partner at Ignition Ventures, has resigned at the request of the board following multiple claims of inappropriate behavior.

In a statement on Tuesday evening, Ignition said it had received a complaint about Artale on July 5, this year, and had investigated the allegation. The bigwig also had a gripe filed against him in 2016. In a board meeting over the weekend, Artale was asked for his resignation, and he signed on the dotted line.

“We took this serious and near-immediate step in part due to this complaint, combined with a third-party accusation of inappropriate conduct by Mr Artale in 2016,” Ignition, based in Los Altos, California, tweeted.

“At that time, we engaged outside counsel and conducted an exhaustive investigation into the event. While the investigation did not substantiate the allegations, it did indicate that he demonstrated poor judgment, which we addressed with him.”

Funnily enough, back in 2016 Ignition hired “an expert consultant to conduct sensitivity and anti-harassment training.” Based on the above revelations, it should ask for its money back.

According to his now-deleted biography page, Artale had been with Ignition since 2011 and is a board member of many of the investment house’s concerns, including Bromium and Cloudera. Like most Ignition staff, he’s an ex-Microsoft employee, and came to the VC house from Citrix.

Ignition was formed when several first-generation Redmondites cashed out in 2000 and went into business for themselves, including founding partners Brad Silverberg of Windows 95 fame and Cameron Myhrvold, brother of Nathan Myhrvold, former CTO at Microsoft. Ignition holds significant stakes in Docker and Bromium, as well as a host of smaller companies.

The speed of Artale’s departure shows the heightened sensitivity of the technology industry to powerful members of the community allegedly abusing their position. Complaints of misconduct in the tech sector, and those of us who cover it, are sadly nothing new, but in the past few months the issue has been brought into much sharper focus.

After former Uber developer Sarah Fowler went public over conditions there for women, more than 20 bros got the boot, including CEO Travis Kalanick. Women going public in the tech VC sector soon followed, leading to bluster at first, and then resignations.

Artale’s resignation didn’t come after a long whispering campaign, and has taken the industry by surprise. It may be retrospective butt-covering, or a sign that the industry is taking this problem seriously. ®

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