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Longtime Sequoia Capital VC Michael Goguen Is Out in Wake of Sexual Abuse Lawsuit

Sequoia confirmed Goguen's departure early Saturday morning.

YouTube / Wharton School

Michael Goguen, a venture capitalist partner at Sequoia Capital for almost 20 years, is no longer with the firm following a lawsuit filed earlier this week that claimed Goguen “sexually, physically and emotionally” abused a woman named Amber Laurel Baptiste, who is described as a “victim of human trafficking.”

The lawsuit, which is graphic, claims that this abuse went on for more than 13 years.

Goguen promised to pay the woman $40 million in a settlement, according to the filing submitted in San Mateo County Superior Court on Tuesday, but after paying her $10 million “refused to honor the rest of the agreement.”

Sequoia tweeted out early Saturday morning that it was parting ways with Goguen.

In a statement shared with Re/code Saturday morning, a company spokesperson said the firm never knew about the lawsuit or allegations until Thursday. “We first learned of these claims on Thursday. We understand that these allegations of serious improprieties are unproven and unrelated to Sequoia. Nevertheless, we decided that Mike’s departure was the appropriate course of action.”

While the company wouldn’t confirm it, it certainly looks like Goguen was fired. Sources said the firm took issue with the fact that these allegations and the proposed settlement were kept hidden.

According to his LinkedIn profile, Goguen led Sequoia’s investments in well over a dozen IT and enterprise software companies over the years.

Update: An associate at Quinn Emanuel, the law firm representing Goguen, sent Re/code the following statement on Saturday attributable to Goguen. In the statement, he describes the accusations as an act of “extortion.”

“These horrific allegations against me come at the end of a 10+ year romantic relationship that ended badly. Not surprisingly, the complaint is filled with every horrible buzzword you could throw at someone in today’s society to destroy their reputation.

At my direction, a cross complaint will be filed with the court first thing Monday morning alleging extortion. It will contain an enormous amount of evidence, including messages that span years and show that she pursued me romantically and professed her love, respect and appreciation for my kind and compassionate treatment of her.

This matter is purely personal and has no connection to Sequoia. My departure from there allows me to focus with full force on clearing my name and vigorously pursuing justice – starting on Monday morning with the filing of my cross complaint alleging extortion.”

Here’s the lawsuit.

Goguen/Baptiste San Mateo Court by Matthew Panzarino

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