Tom Preston-Werner

GitHub President Resigns After Allegations Of Harassment

Tom Preston-Werner quits GitHub, even though an independent investigation clears his name

On by Max Smolaks 0

Tom Preston-Werner, co-founder and former CEO of the popular software development hosting service GitHub, has resigned as its president following allegations of sexism and workplace harassment.

However, GitHub stresses that an independent investigation didn’t find evidence to support claims made by designer and developer Julie Horvath in March.

Horvath publicly complained about being harassed by the company’s leadership and announced she was quitting on Twitter. She later demanded for two men, including a former colleague, to step down.

“The investigation found no evidence to support the claims against Tom and his wife of sexual or gender-based harassment or retaliation, or of a sexist or hostile work environment. However, while there may have been no legal wrongdoing, the investigator did find evidence of mistakes and errors of judgment. In light of these findings, Tom has submitted his resignation, which the company has accepted,” said CEO Chris Wanstrath in a blog post.

No sexism at GitHub

GitHub, co-founded by Preston-Werner, Wanstrath and PJ Hyett in 2008, is a cloud-based hosting service for software development that uses the Git revision control system. Git was originally created by Linus Torvalds to manage the work on the Linux Kernel, but has since become an industry standard for open source projects.

Julie HorvathPreston-Werner has also founded Gravatar, a service that enables user avatars to migrate across websites which was sold to WordPress developer Automattic in 2007.

In March, Horvath criticized GitHub and its leadership in a series of tweets, before announcing she was leaving the start-up. The developer later told TechCrunch she was repeatedly harassed by one of the co-founders and his wife. At the same time, a colleague whose advances Horvath had to reject was “ripping out” her code from projects that both of them were working on.

Horvath complained about the culture of sexism at GitHub, however a third-party investigation found ” no evidence of gender-based discrimination, harassment, retaliation, or abuse”.

Even though this essentially clears his name, Preston-Werner is leaving his post as the president to focus on “immersible computing” applications for devices like the Oculus Rift.

“Unfortunately, the investigation and all the attention surrounding it have me concerned that remaining at GitHub would be a distraction for both me and the company,” said the co-founder on his blog. “I’m incredibly proud of what I’ve helped build at GitHub and I don’t want the events of the past month to jeopardize that. I care too much about the company and the people here to let that happen.”

“That said, I want to be very clear about one thing: neither my wife, Theresa, nor I have ever engaged in gender-based harassment or discrimination. The results of GitHub’s independent investigation unequivocally confirm this and we are prepared to fight any further false claims on this matter to the full extent of the law. I believe in diversity and equality for all people in all professions, especially the tech sector. It’s immensely important to me and I will continue to do my very best to further that belief.”

In the last month, charges of discrimination also toppled another software industry leader, as Brendan Eich was promoted to run the Mozilla Foundation, then stood down after a storm of Internet criticism over a donation to a campaign against gay marriage. Eich and Mozilla also denied any lack of commitment to equality.

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Max Smolaks
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