500 Startups shuts down its Canada fund

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Following sexual harassment allegations that led to the resignation of 500 Startups co-founder Dave McClure, it’s now emerged that the troubled VC firm has abandoned its Canada fund.

According to reports in The Globe and Mail and BetaKit, the saga made it difficult to move forward with the next phase of 500 Canada, where it had a profit-sharing relationship. The firm was in the process of raising a $30 million fund, having already closed an initial $15 million commitment, but it is reported to have received pushback from LPs who were concerned that McClure would still be involved.

Sources told BetaKit that this feedback from investors led to a renegotiation of the terms between 500 Startups and 500 Startups Canada, principally around the removal of McClure’s presence within the fund. With no agreement reached, it was decided that the fund would be disbanded, Betakit reported.

500 Startups provided us with the following statement:

“We remain bullish on Canada’s startup ecosystem and deal flow. It’s why we invested in Canada before the 500 Canada fund, and why we will continue to do so going forward. Though this partnership didn’t work out, we are thankful to the LPs who supported the fund, and we look forward to continuing to support our 60+ investments in Canada and investing in more Canadian companies.”

Last month, a number of women came forward to the New York Times, alleging misconduct by McClure and others in the venture community. That story inspired others to share their own experiences of harassment from McClure, including Cheryl Yeoh who worked directly with the 500 Startups’ founding partner while in charge of Malaysia’s digital program. McClure initially left his position but remained at the firm despite the allegations — and a public admission that he had been “a creep” — but he then resigned from 500 Startups fully on July 3 following the second-wave of allegations after the Times’ story.

Co-founder Christine Tsai took over the top job, but McClure’s image is closely tied to 500 Startups, so it is easy to imagine that his tarnished reputation will have a knock-on effect among the firm’s portfolio, LPs and prospective partners. Meanwhile, 500 Startups continues to tout its diversity stats, which are better than the industry average — 67 percent of the managing partners and 44 percent of the wider 500 Startups team are women, according to its website. 

500 Startups has a large international presence, investing through localized funds located across Asia, Europe and Latin America. Collectively, it has raised over $500 million for its funds since 2010. Despite that, there have been examples of planned funds that failed to raise necessary capital, most recently in India earlier this year.