In a town hall with some members of their community, launch house addressed the allegations of harassment and assault surfaced by a Vox Investigation earlier this week. The startup, backed by a16z and Flybridge, as well as a bevy of top investors, said an independent investigation is underway.
“We’ll let the investigation speak for itself, but we’re confident it will show we’re not taking revenge on women,” the co-founders said, referring specifically to an incident highlighted in the Vox piece on Launch House that allegedly retaliated. against a woman who had been sexually abused there in the past. Launch House denied any retaliation against Vox and reiterated that denial in today’s meeting.
The startup also promised that they are building a leading safety and security program for co-living experiences, which it will share in detail “very soon” in another community.
The city meeting lasted less than 15 minutes and was organized by co-founders Brett Goldstein and Michael Hook. There was no live Q&A section and the chat was not active. Sources say some people who spoke out against Launch House on Twitter were denied access to the meeting.
After the story was published, a spokeswoman for Launch House said it is “inaccurate to say that only a few members of the community were invited. The whole community was invited. In fact, a follow-up message was sent to the entire community via Discord to try and make sure everyone got the Zoom invite.” The company defines “community” as members of the Launch House program and claims that investors and LPs for its fund were invited to the meeting.
The original meeting was to take place on Thursday. The co-founders said some members had asked why the meeting had been moved to the end of the week on Friday afternoon, to which Houck replied, “Frankly, you’re right. We dropped the ball by responding quickly enough [and] with enough compassion. And that doesn’t reflect the values we’ve built and care about this community from day one.”
“Simply put, we should have met you all earlier than today,” Houck added, adding later: “What I can say now is that we are ready to speak and we have a plan.”
The conversation focused on three topics: what Launch House says it has done in the past, what it will do in the future, and how it plans to rebuild trust among female founders in their cohorts. The co-founders said at the meeting that the content of the meeting was developed in response to questions raised by the community over the past week.
“We’re sorry to all of you who were affected,” Goldstein continued. “Like we said at the beginning, every time someone doesn’t feel safe. It’s definitely not okay and not something we can allow. As for the details of what happened, we want to wait for the investigation to be completed before we can say more.”
Houck added: “We are definitely not closing. We move forward together as a community.”
Launch House, founded in 2020, started as a fresh take on traditional homes for hackers. Entrepreneurs were invited to stay for four weeks in rented townhouses or buildings. The in-person residencies are seen as onboarding events in the wider Launch House community, including digital and physical events, services that help scale startups, and internal social networking. The co-founders have scaled the startup through multiple venture capital raises, and announced a $10 million venture fund to support Launch House members.
businesskinda.com has reached out to Launch House for further comment on the investigation and attendance, but has not heard back at the time of publication.
Current and former Launch House employees can contact Natasha Mascarenhas via email at [email protected] or on Signal, a secure encrypted messaging app, at 925 271 0912.
Janice has been with businesskinda for 5 years, writing copy for client websites, blog posts, EDMs and other mediums to engage readers and encourage action. By collaborating with clients, our SEO manager and the wider businesskinda team, Janice seeks to understand an audience before creating memorable, persuasive copy.