Female Gropers: Hollywood Has Weinstein, The IT Industry Robert Scoble
Former Microsoft evangelist Robert Scoble has been outed as a “groper” of women and an alcoholic following multiple allegations of inappropriate behaviour towards women.
A big noter Scoble once tried to shut down a story I wrote when we exclusively revealed months out from the release of Windows Vista, that Microsoft was working on rewriting “up to 60% of Windows code”.
Scoble called for my sacking over the piece. At the time the story was backed up by the Marketing Director of Acer and other people close to what Microsoft was planning.
On Friday in a post on Medium, journalist Quinn Norton accused Mr Scoble of groping her body at a technology conference in the early 2010s.
She writes that Scoble turned on her after he was pried away from a “drunkenly disoriented” woman he was making out with at the campsite. One of Norton’s friends separated the two and then someone else introduced Scoble to Norton, saying Scoble was “dangerous” as a joke. Norton in turn told Scoble she was dangerous, but he didn’t seem to heed her warning.
From Norton’s post:
And then, without any more warning, Scoble was on me. I felt one hand on my breast and his arm reaching around and grabbing my butt. Scoble is considerably bigger than I am, and I realized quickly I wasn’t going to be able to push him away. Meanwhile, the people around just watched, in what I can only imagine was stunned shock. I got a hand free and used a palm strike to the base of his chin to knock him back. It worked, he flew back and struggled to get his feet under him. I watched his feet carefully for that moment. He was unbalanced from the alcohol and I realized if he reached for me again I could pull him forward, bounce his face off my knee, then drive it into the ground. (I knew this move because it had been done to me, then the martial arts expert who did it picked me up and apologetically showed me how to do it.) He laughed and rubbed his chin and said something like “I like this one, she has spirit.” I said this: “If you touch me again I will break your nose.” I could still feel his hands on me, his intentions, all of it. He laughed again, and I repeated, “If you touch me again I will break your nose.” He didn’t grab me again after that.
After attacking Norton, Scoble allegedly turned his attention back to the woman he had been making out with earlier in the evening. Two men at the event later helped the woman walk away from him.
Following the event, Norton talked to several people about the incident and discovered she wasn’t alone in her experiences. Scoble’s behavior was one of tech’s “open secrets,” Norton explains, writing that she never came forward for fear of retribution against Scoble’s other victims. “I couldn’t come forward and name her [another victim] for risk of destroying her career and possibly personal life. So, despite being in the best position a woman could hope for, despite having ironclad in [sic] reputation and pretty damn good at opsec, I’ve stayed silent. I couldn’t risk the other women.”
Another woman, former colleague Michelle Greer, also said Mr Scoble made unwanted advances, touching her leg during a conference in February 2010.
Scoble who was well known in the industry for his inappropriate actions and bombastic attitude to people who did not agree with his views, has had several jobs since trying to take on ChannelNews.
Scoble who also liked to flaunt his relationship with Microsoft over journalists once confronted me at a trade show in the USA claiming that Australians would know “jack all about technology”.
Now he has been forced by several female collages to issue a statement on Facebook, Mr Scoble said: “I know that apologies are not enough and that they don’t erase the wrongs of the past or the present.”
He became a well-known figure in the technology business spin doctoring information for Microsoft during the 2000s, after being dumped by Microsoft he worked at Fast Company, cloud provider RackSpace, and most recently UploadVR.
UploadVR was sued earlier this year for gender discrimination – the case was settled out of court in September. It’s not known whether the settlement was relating to the actions of Scoble.
As well as his consulting work, Mr Scoble regularly appears as a guest on media outlets, including BBC News.
In his message on Facebook, Mr Scoble referenced his issues with alcoholism.
“I have made many steps in my life to try to improve, including getting sober more than two years ago,” he wrote.
“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.”
According to the BBC several women have since accused the 52-year-old of unacceptable behaviour after the point when he publicly announced he was giving up alcohol.
Tech Crunch said that despite Scoble’s public apologies, he has allegedly continued to drink, smoke pot and proposition women repeatedly, say two women, even after they say they told him to stop.
After journalist Quinn Norton recently published her Medium post accusing Scoble of grabbing her, NASA analyst Sarah Seitz said in the post’s comment section that Scoble had propositioned Seitz for an affair a year and a half ago — after he’d publicly stated that he was cleaning up his act.
Seitz later told TechCrunch she’d turned Scoble down, but that he continued to pursue her anyway.
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. 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.
“It made me sick to work with him, but also he was offering so much help,” she told TechCrunch. “As women we sometimes have to make tough choices. Do I want to call him out, or do I want to advance my career?”
Scoble is in a position of power to many people in the tech industry — a point that has arisen repeatedly in our interviews with women in his sphere. His actions — both past and present — have been kept under wraps for that reason, they say.