The prominent Silicon Valley investor Shervin Pishevar, who has been accused by several women of sexual misconduct, said he is absent from his duties at his venture capital firm Sherpa Capital and the transportation company  Virgin Hyperloop One.
Pishevar, known for his early investment in Uber Technologies Inc., said he is taking time off to seek a legal case against people he claims to have embarked on a smear campaign against him. Last month, he sued a corporate research firm founded by veterans of the Republican campaign, claiming he was trying to spread false accusations about him. The firm, Definers Public Affairs, denied the allegations and said it had never worked in Pishevar.
"As that legal case progresses, it is my priority to ensure that the Sherpa Capital family is not adversely affected," Pishevar wrote on Tuesday. in a statement by email. "I'm sure I'll be vindicated."
Five women who knew Pishevar in a professional context told Bloomberg that they were sexually assaulted or harassed by him. In each case, the women accused Pishevar of exploiting a professional connection, and using the prospect of a job, tutoring or investment to make an unwanted sexual advance. The current and former colleagues of a sixth woman, Uber executive Austin Geidt, told Bloomberg that he groped for her at the Uber party in December 2014.
Virgin Hyperloop One called a meeting of the board on Sunday , where the directors discussed the accusations included in the Bloomberg story and raised the possibility that Pishevar would resign, people with knowledge of the event said this week. On Monday, two high-profile Democratic senators, Kamala Harris and Cory Booker, said they had redirected money that Pishevar had given his campaigns or committees to organizations for victims of sexual assault or domestic violence. Pishevar, an important connector of the technology industry to Washington, has donated more than $ 500,000 to candidates and Democratic causes.
In May, Pishevar was arrested in a London hotel after a woman accused him of raping her. Police said Pishevar was "released under investigation" and never charged. Last month, Forbes and other publications reported a document that was supposed to be a police report, which turned out to be false, according to the London police. Pishevar said in his statement on Tuesday: "I hope to find out who invented the fraudulent" police report "in London and who is responsible for spreading false rumors about me."
For more information on sexual harassment in Silicon Valley, check out the podcast Decryption :
Pishevar co-founded Sherpa Capital, where he keeps the title of CEO, and Virgin Hyperloop One , where he is executive co-president. In an email to Virgin Hyperloop One's board reviewed by Bloomberg, Pishevar said it would transfer its voting rights to Russian investor Ziyavudin Magomedov, who was named deputy chief executive in October. In addition to getting away from those companies, Pishevar is retiring from his directorial roles in the boards of companies he and Sherpa Capital have backed, according to the statement. The commitments of the Pishevar board include the food distribution company Munchery and the emerging company Cue.
Silicon Valley Bank said that Pishevar was absent from the board of Silicon Foundry, the joint venture between the bank and Sherpa Capital that seeks to deepen ties between startups and established companies. Sherpa Capital co-founder Scott Stanford remains on the board. The executives of the bank had had telephone conversations with Pishevar over the weekend to analyze the status of the relationship, said a Silicon Valley Bank spokeswoman.
In a separate statement, Sherpa Capital said it is beginning an independent review of its practices and operations. A spokeswoman for the company said she had never received a report of sexual harassment.
– With the assistance of Eric Newcomer