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Github cofounder resigns after clearance in sex-harass probe

Errors of judgment cited by third-party investigators

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

Tom Preston-Werner, the cofounder and former CEO of Github, has left the company being cleared by a third-party investigation into claims of sexual harassment at the coding startup.

"The investigation found no evidence to support the claims against Tom and his wife of sexual or gender-based harassment or retaliation, or of a sexist or hostile work environment," said Chris Wanstrath, a fellow Github founder and the current CEO, in a statement.

"However, while there may have been no legal wrongdoing, the investigator did find evidence of mistakes and errors of judgment," he wrote. "In light of these findings, Tom has submitted his resignation, which the company has accepted."

The investigation was prompted by the resignation of software engineer Julie Horvath, who claimed that she had been "harassed by the leadership" of GitHub for two years, had her code pulled by a staff member when she refused to sleep with him, and after female staff hula-hooped in the office while being ogled by male coders.

Horvath's very public resignation, and subsequent publicity, caused a stir at the company, which is backed by a $100m investment from VC firm Andreessen Horowitz. Wanstrath suspended the employee accused of pulling Horvath's code, and got independent investigators into the company to get to the bottom of matters.

In a Monday blog post, Preston-Werner said that he had been thinking about moving on for some time and would be starting a new business working with virtual reality environments. He said he was stepping down to avoid being a distraction to Github and is "insanely excited about the future."

"I want to be very clear about one thing: neither my wife, Theresa, nor I have ever engaged in gender-based harassment or discrimination," he wrote.

"The results of GitHub's independent investigation unequivocally confirm this and we are prepared to fight any further false claims on this matter to the full extent of the law. I believe in diversity and equality for all people in all professions, especially the tech sector."

Interestingly, Horvath never accused an unnamed cofounder and his wife of sexual harassment. She did say the wife in question was aggressive towards her and physically and verbally harassed her, but her complaints of sexually inappropriate behavior were against another staff member who, she claims, has since been promoted.

"I am not a victim. I'm someone that a company's negligence pushed too far, for too long. I am living, breathing consequence," she tweeted, after the news of the resignation broke. ®

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