Influential tech industry figure Robert Scoble has rebutted allegations of sexual misconduct in a combative blog post. In the scathing 2,500-word statement, Scoble says he was misquoted by former partner Shel Israel, who said Scoble had confirmed the reports were “mostly true” and that he would be canceling his public activity for the rest of the year. Instead, he accuses four women of using “grains of truth to sell false narrative” about his behavior. He also excoriates TechCrunch and Business Insider, both of which covered early reports of the incidents, by calling them “gossip blogs” publishing clickbait.
Scoble, who apparently published this post against the advice of his lawyer, claims he did not have enough power over his accusers to sexually harass them. “If I were guilty of all the things said about me I would still not be in a position to have sexually harassed anyone,” he writes. “I don’t have employees, I don’t cut checks for investment. None of the women who came forward were ever in a position where I could make or break their careers. Sexual harassment requires that I have such power.” Scoble has been called “one of the most influential players in the [tech] industry,” and one of the “top ten people to know in Silicon Valley.”
Scoble also recounts his own version of incidents with four women who say he behaved inappropriately toward them, suggesting that they “felt peer pressure to join the #MeToo bandwagon,” or “felt slighted for other reasons.” He doesn’t address the basic allegation of at least one claim, a post where journalist Quinn Norton accused him of groping her at a conference. But he apologizes to his wife and “women in general” for marital infidelity, making inappropriate jokes, and watching online pornography.
After Scoble published this post, Michelle Greer — who said he touched her inappropriately while they worked together at Rackspace — posted screenshots of a Facebook comment where Scoble called his behavior “disgusting” and referred to “the truth of [her] words,” after she called him a “bad actor” in a previous comment. “I'm now being told I'm a liar. I wonder what this apology was for then?” she writes. Norton called Scoble’s decision to post the statement a “very bad call,” and retweeted a thread supporting her account. We’ve reached out to the other two women named by Scoble for comment on his claims. Israel, for his part, told The Verge that “I stand by my statement of Sunday related to Robert. I am surprised and disappointed by his statement.”
Scoble has spent years evangelizing technology, most recently virtual and augmented reality, and some of the incidents in question took place before he revealed he was an alcoholic and gave up drinking in 2015. He’s also repeatedly apologized for past behavior. But his latest defense puts forward an absurd definition of sexual harassment and effectively accuses women of reporting it to fit in with the cool crowd, while claiming he’s writing in “a spirit of healing.” There’s even a tasteless plug for his latest business venture. It’s one of the most disappointing responses we’ve seen to a sexual harassment complaint, which, after the past few weeks, is a fairly remarkable achievement.
Update October 26th, 1PM ET: Added statement by Shel Israel.