The only enduring legacy of the stupid Google Glass fad of 2013-14 is the image of fanboy Robert Scoble wearing the contraption in the shower. While the Glass device has mercifully been more or less shelved, Scoble has continued to thrive as a high-profile “tech evangelist,” “entrepreneur-in-residence,” and in other vague, non-defined roles that don’t make sense outside the tech industry but certainly carry enormous power and influence within it. And like so many tech industry leaders, Scoble has been dogged by whispers of workplace sexual harassment. A May 2017 SFist report into sexual harassment at virtual reality startup UploadVR discovered that Scoble worked there at the time, though none of the allegations were directed at him. They are now, though, as TechCrunch found four women accusing Scoble of harassment despite his 2015 pledge that he would sober up and lay off the groping.
The accusations blew up Friday after USA Today published an article detailing the claims of two of Scoble’s alleged victims, a Silicon Valley-specific piece written in the wake of the #MeToo campaign. The accusers went on the record, journalist Quinn Norton in a Medium post and ProDay founder Sarah Kunst in the USA Today writeup, both detailing incidents prior to 2015. In response, Scoble told the paper that “I did some things that are really, really hurtful to the women and I feel ashamed by that," and "I have taken many steps to try to get better because I knew some of this was potentially going to come out."
But TechCrunch caught a comment in Norton’s Medium post, and confirmed the above account with NASA analysts Sarah Seitz. TechCrunch’s Sarah Buhr also notes that “Another woman who chose to remain anonymous told TechCrunch that Scoble made a pass at her, telling her how much he wanted to make out with her after getting high at a tech conference earlier this year.” Buhr adds that “She said that Scoble later apologized for his behavior and lavished her with praise; he also connected her with people she needed to help further her career, which she said effectively silenced her.”
In comments posted to Facebook just shortly after the TechCrunch piece was published, Scoble said (in addition to what is visible above), “I have committed to making amends where appropriate and to living a life of transparency, integrity, and honesty. I’m deeply sorry to the people I’ve caused pain to. I know I have behaved in ways that were inappropriate. I apologize for that. The question is not if it happened or if anyone got hurt (they did) but how can I do better? I know that apologies are not enough and that they don’t erase the wrongs of the past or the present. The only thing I can do to really make a difference now is to prove, through my future behavior, and my willingness to listen, learn and change, that I want to become part of the solution going forward.”
On top of the two accusers mentioned above, TechCrunch also reports that “Two additional women have told TechCrunch that Scoble was still making inappropriate advances after he’d publicly stated he was going sober, but neither wanted to go on record for fear of the repercussions.”
The Susan Fowler-Uber harassment scandal has awoken a sleeping giant of tech industry harassment victims coming forward, but the problem clearly goes beyond the surly bonds of Silicon Valley and the Harvey Weinstein. A CBS 5 report also posted Friday notes the problem is also rampant at the Sacramento state house. More than 140 women in California state politics have signed an open letter declaring, “Men have groped and touched us without our consent, made inappropriate comments about our bodies and abilities. Insults and sexual innuendo frequently disguised as jokes have undermined our professional positions and capabilities.”
Lobbyist Pamela Lopez details her encounter with a California lawmaker in pretty graphic fashion. “He rushed up behind me, rushed me into the restroom, locked the door behind him, exposed himself, began to masturbate all in a matter of seconds,” she told CBS 5.