Artale Forced Out of VC Firm Ignition Partners After Misconduct Complaints

[Updated 7/13/17, 3:05 p.m. See below.] Ignition Partners, a venture capital firm based in Bellevue, WA, with offices in Los Altos, CA, announced the resignation of managing partner Frank Artale following complaints of inappropriate conduct.

The firm issued a statement late Tuesday afternoon via Twitter (reproduced in full below) describing a misconduct complaint against Artale it received July 5 “from a third party who has requested anonymity.” On Sunday, July 9, the firm asked for Artale’s resignation. “He agreed and resigned, effective immediately,” according to the statement.

Artale is the latest in a series of venture capitalists to be forced out as a result of inappropriate conduct, as the technology industry confronts longstanding issues of gender discrimination and harassment that have lately gained widespread attention.

As Xconomy’s San Francisco editor Bernadette Tansey reported earlier Tuesday: “Although the number of women who came forward recently was relatively small, their public revelations ended with serious consequences for male executives accused—a rare phenomenon. [Uber engineer Susan] Fowler’s scathing blog post about tolerance of sexual harassment at Uber helped trigger a company investigation that ended in founder Travis Kalanick’s ouster as CEO, as well as the departures of some of his closest associates in top management. In the wake of [stories in The Information and The New York Times], two of the accused venture capital firm partners left their jobs, and some publicly apologized.” [Details added on The Information’s coverage.]

Tansey’s story focuses on ways women in technology are tapping into their networks to support one another in the context of a public awakening to a problem that has been kept below the surface. It appears that in light of this greater public scrutiny, venture firms and technology companies have begun to take misconduct allegations much more seriously.

Ignition said it asked for Artale’s resignation “in part, due to this complaint, combined with a prior third-party accusation of inappropriate conduct by Mr. Artale in 2016.”

The firm said that while an investigation into that incident conducted by an outside counsel “did not substantiate the allegations, it did indicate that [Artale] demonstrated poor judgment, which we addressed with him.” Xconomy has sought comment from Artale and will update this story as appropriate.

Ignition Partners subsequently “retained an expert consultant to conduct sensitivity and anti-harassment training,” according to the statement.

“We deeply regret any adverse effects to any of the individuals involved in these events,” the statement concludes.

Ignition’s current managing partners are John Connors, Bob Kelly, and Nick Sturiale.

Artale, a Microsoft executive in the 1990s, joined Ignition in 2011. His recent focus was on cloud computing and enterprise software. Artale was a director on the boards of Ignition portfolio companies including Cask, Trifacta, SnapLogic, Apprenda, Bromium, BlueStacks, Skytap, and ScaleXtreme.

Prior to joining Ignition, he was a venture consultant for Accel Partners, an executive at XenSource, and CEO of Consera Software, among other roles.

Benjamin Romano is editor of Xconomy Seattle. Email him at bromano [at] xconomy.com. Follow @bromano

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