In a town hall with members of their community, Launch House addressed allegations of harassment and assault revealed by a Vox investigation earlier this week. The startup, backed by a16z and Flybridge as well as a host of leading investors, said an independent investigation is underway.
“We will let the investigation speak for itself, but we are confident that it will show that we do not retaliate against women,” the co-founders said, referring specifically to a highlighted incident. in the Vox article on Launch House who reportedly fired back. against a woman who had been sexually assaulted there in the past. Launch House denied any retaliation against Vox and repeated that denial at today’s meeting.
The startup also promised to implement an industry-leading safety and security program for co-housing experiences, which it will share in detail in another community “very soon.”
The town meeting lasted less than 15 minutes and was moderated by the co-founders Brett Goldstein and Michael Houck. There was no live Q&A and 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 Launch House spokeswoman said it is “inaccurate to say that only certain members of the community were invited. The whole community was invited. In fact, a follow-up message was sent out to the entire community via Discord to try and make sure everyone received the Zoom invite. The company defines the “community” as members of the Launch House program and says investors and LPs from its fund were invited to the meeting.
The initial meeting was to take place on Thursday. The co-founders said some members asked why the meeting was moved to the end of the week on Friday afternoon, to which Houck replied, “Frankly, you’re right. We dropped the ball answering this pretty quickly [and] with enough compassion. And that doesn’t reflect the values we’ve built this community on since day one and hold dear.
“In simpler terms, we absolutely should have met with you all earlier than today,” Houck added, later adding, “What I can say now is that we are ready to talk 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 with female founders in their cohorts. The co-founders told the meeting that the content for the meeting was developed in response to questions submitted by the community over the past week.
“We are sorry for all of you who have been affected,” Goldstein continued. “As we talked about at the beginning, whenever someone feels unsafe. This is absolutely not acceptable and it is not something we can allow. As for the details of what happened, we want to wait until the investigation is complete before saying more.
Houck added: “We are absolutely not closing. Together, we move forward as a community.
Launch House, founded in 2020, began as a fresh take on traditional hacker houses. Entrepreneurs were invited to complete a four-week residency in mansions or rented buildings. In-person residencies are considered onboarding events into Launch House’s broader community, which includes digital and physical events, services that help scale startups, and internal social networks. The co-founders scaled the startup through several venture capital raises and announced a $10 million venture fund to support Launch House members.
TechCrunch has contacted Launch House for further comment on the survey and participation, but has not yet received a response as of press time.
Current and former Launch House employees can contact Natasha Mascarenhas by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Signal, a secure encrypted messaging app, at 925 271 0912.