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500 Startups’ Christine Tsai responded to sexual harassment allegations for the first time since McClure’s ouster

Christine Tsai calls these days a “confusing, emotional time.”

TechCrunch Disrupt SF 2015 - Day 3 Steve Jennings/Getty Images for TechCrunch

The new leader of a venture capital firm rocked by sexual harassment allegations offered her most extensive comments to date Tuesday on how exactly her venture firm, 500 Startups, is coping with the fallout.

A month after Dave McClure, her fellow co-founder, resigned from the startup accelerator, Christine Tsai frankly acknowledged to an audience of investors and entrepreneurs that her company’s reputation was seriously damaged by his conduct and that it would work to fix the culture.

Tsai, speaking to a dead silent room of about 400 people, addressed the allegations unprompted here at the outset of a 500 Startups Demo Day in Mountain View, calling the recent weeks a “very turbulent period.”

“For many of you this was a confusing, emotional time where you probably questioned the 500 that you knew,” Tsai said, reading from prepared remarks. “This mission is much bigger than just one person. And it’s way too important to be taken down by one person’s mistakes.”

500 Startups CEO Christine Tsai
Christine Tsai

Tsai, who took over to lead the firm after McClure stepped down, promised that 500 Startups would “aim to be part of the solution” in the coming months.

McClure had been accused of making unwanted advances toward female entrepreneurs, in some cases sending inappropriate messages to potential recipients of funding. He later recognized his mistakes and called himself a “creep” and apologized.

Tsai wrote a blog post after the allegations emerged but before he resigned, and has been declining to do interviews to more fully address McClure’s conduct, which was only revealed after a report in the New York Times. Tsai, through a firm spokeswoman, declined an interview request from Recode on Tuesday.

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