In a town hall with some members of their community, Launch House addressed allegations of harassment and assault that surfaced in a Vox investigation earlier this week. The startup, backed by a16z and Flybridge, as well as a group of major investors, said an independent investigation is underway.
“We will let the investigation speak for itself, but we are confident it will show that we do not retaliate against women,” the co-founders said, referring specifically to an incident highlighted in the Vox article about Launch House allegedly retaliating. 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 that they are building an industry-leading safety and security program for co-living experiences, which it will share in detail in another community “very soon.”
The town meeting lasted less than 15 minutes and was organized by the co-founders. Brett Goldstein Y Michael Houck. There was no live question and answer section and the chat was not active. Sources say that 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 some members of the community were invited. The entire community was invited. In fact, a follow-up message was sent out to the entire community via Discord to try to ensure everyone got the Zoom invite.” The company defines “community” as members of the Launch House program and states that investors and LPs from its fund were invited to the meeting.
The original meeting was scheduled for 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 responded, “Frankly, you’re right. We dropped the ball by answering this fast enough [and] with enough compassion. And that doesn’t reflect the values that we’ve built this community on from day one and that matter to us.”
“Bottom line, we absolutely should have met with all of you before today,” Houck added, later adding, “What I can say now is that we are ready to talk and we have a plan.”
The conversation centered around 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 the female founders in its cohorts. The co-founders said during the meeting that the meeting content was developed in response to questions submitted by the community over the past week.
“We feel sorry for everyone who has been affected,” Goldstein continued. “Like we talked about at the beginning, any time someone doesn’t feel safe. It is absolutely not right 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 going to close. We are moving forward together as a community.”
Launch House, founded in 2020, started as a new version of traditional hacker houses. Entrepreneurs were invited to undertake a four-week residency in rented mansions or buildings. In-person residencies are considered onboarding events to the broader Launch House community, which includes digital and physical events, services that help scale startups, and internal social networks. The co-founders scaled the startup through multiple venture capital raises and announced a $10 million venture fund to back Launch House members.
TechCrunch has reached out to Launch House for further comment on the investigation and support, but has yet to hear back at the time of publication.
Current and former Launch House employees can contact Natasha Mascarenhas by email at email@example.com or Signal, a secure encrypted messaging application, at 925 271 0912.