Startup News & Analysis

LaunchVic postpones 500 Melbourne in response to 500 Startups scandal

Angela Castles /

Dave McClure

Dave McClure

LaunchVic have confirmed that startups will have to wait if they want to be part of the 500 Melbourne Accelerator, with the government body officially putting the program on hold.

This postponement comes after news of Dave McClure’s resignation from 500 Startups last week amid claims of harassment and inappropriate behaviour.

McClure was in Melbourne two weeks ago to launch 500 Melbourne, a 500 Startups-run accelerator program supported by LaunchVic with an investment of more than $2 million.

It wasn’t until last week that allegations against McClure came to light, and LaunchVic threatened to pull the plug on the program in response to a perceived lack of transparency from 500 Startups’ leadership in the matter.

Amid mounting calls to cancel the 500 Melbourne initiative, on Friday LaunchVic released a statement confirming it will be postponing the program until 500 Startups addressed its leadership and harassment problems.

LaunchVic says this is to “enable time for 500 Startups to rebuild the trust of the Australian community”.

Last week members of the Australian startup ecosystem penned an open letter, signed by industry players like Annie Parker, Paul Bassat, Elaine Stead, Susan Wu, Steve Baxter and many others, who pledged to overcome harassment and discrimination in the community, in response to the 500 Startups saga.

LaunchVic has tasked 500 Startups with developing a “remedial plan” will also “include strategies to regain the confidence of the local startup community and will specifically address the time frames for the roll out of the program”.

“The future of the 500 Melbourne program is dependent on the delivery of a remedial plan that not only addresses sexual harassment in the startup ecosystem but also promotes women and other underrepresented groups,” LaunchVic said in the statement. 

A representative from LaunchVic told StartupSmart that 500 Startups has “already begun working on the plan” and the organisation will have further comment once this has been received.

For startups looking forward to participating in the 500 Melbourne accelerator, LaunchVic suggests reaching out to 500 Melbourne lead Rachael Neumann, who has publicly stated she will spend her time listening to and engaging with the community to better understand concerns at hand.

“The conversations I have had with 500 Startups’ founder and CEO Christine Tsai give me hope,” LaunchVic chief executive Kate Cornick said in a statement.

“If 500 Startups can respond positively to the issues of sexual harassment then they will be in a position to enact profound change across the global startup ecosystem.”

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Angela Castles

Angela Castles is a Journalist at StartupSmart with a keen interest in the legal issues startups face. In her free time she can be found eating sushi and seeing live music.

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