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GitHub co-founder resigns after investigation into harassment claims

GitHub co-founder resigns after investigation into harassment claims

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GitHub, the company behind the popular open source platform of the same name, just announced that co-founder and president Tom Preston-Werner has resigned after an independent investigation into claims that he and his wife harassed an employee.

Preston-Werner was not explicitly named until now. However, most people had figured out that he was the "co-founder" referred to by former developer Julie Ann Horvath, who quit last month due to what she says had become a hostile work environment.

Horvath claimed to have experienced sexism and gender-based harassment at GitHub. She also spoke out about Preston-Werner and his wife, who she says personally harassed her for two years, the former berating her in his office and the latter stalking her at work. According to Horvath, the Preston-Warners were apparently concerned that she would undermine the company's reputation, perhaps due to her outspokenness on the issues around women in tech.

CEO Chris Wanstrath was vague about what the investigation turned up. There was no legal wrongdoing but "the investigator did find evidence of mistakes and errors of judgment," he writes. "In light of these findings, Tom has submitted his resignation, which the company has accepted."

"The investigation found no evidence to support the claims against Tom and his wife."

When asked exactly what happened between Horvath and the Preston-Werners, GitHub responded that the details of the investigation are confidential. However, the episode has clearly made a big impact at the company. "We are implementing a number of new HR and employee-led initiatives as well as training opportunities to make sure employee concerns and conflicts are taken seriously and dealt with appropriately," Wanstrath writes. "We know we still have work to do."

When asked for comment, Preston-Werner directed The Verge to his blog post about resigning, where he strongly denies that he and his wife engaged in gender-based discrimination. "I believe in diversity and equality for all people in all professions, especially the tech sector," he writes. "Unfortunately, the investigation and all the attention surrounding it have me concerned that remaining at GitHub would be a distraction for both me and the company."

"GitHub would bleed good employees if he didn't resign."

Preston-Warner was CEO of GitHub until January, when he became president and Wanstrath became CEO. Inspired by the Oculus Rift, he says he wants to do something with immersive computing next. For the immediate future, he's moving to New York to help his wife with her startup, Omakase, which assists technology-centered nonprofits.

"He didn't have a choice," Horvath tells The Verge. "There was substantial evidence supporting my claims against him and his wife. GitHub would bleed good employees if he didn't resign." She believes the investigation was basically a sham. "There was a series of conversations with a "mediator" who sought to relieve GitHub of any legal responsibility," she said on Twitter. "There was no investigation."