In a town hall with some of their community members, Launch House addressed allegations of harassment and assault that surfaced by the Vox investigation earlier this week. The startup, which is 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 trust it will show that we are not retaliating against women,” said the co-founders, specifically referring to an incident highlighted in a Vox article about Launch House allegedly retaliatory against a woman who has been sexually assaulted there in the past. . Launch House denied any retaliation for Vox, and repeated that denial at today’s meeting.
The startup also promised to build an industry-leading safety and security program for co-living experiences, which it will detail in another community “very soon.”
The town meeting lasted less than 15 minutes, and was hosted by the co-founders Brett Goldstein And the Michael Hawke. There was no live Q&A pane and the chat was not active. Sources say that some people who spoke out against the Launch House on Twitter were not granted access to the meeting.
After the story was published, a Launch House spokeswoman said it was “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 to the entire community via Discord to try to ensure everyone gets the Zoom invite” . The company defines the “community” as members of the Launch House, and claims that investors and owners of limited ownership in its fund have been invited to the meeting.
The original meeting was scheduled for Thursday. The co-founders said that some members asked why the meeting was moved to the weekend on Friday afternoon, to which Hawk replied, “Honestly, you’re right. We dropped the ball at responding to this quickly enough. [and] Compassionate enough. This does not reflect the values on which we built this community from day one and that we care about.”
“To put it more simply, we should have met all of you sooner today,” Hawk added, adding later, “What I can say now is that we are ready to talk and we have a plan.”
The conversation focused on three topics: what the 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 organizations in their groups. During the meeting, the co-founders said that the content of the meeting was developed in response to questions from the community over the past week.
“We are sorry to all of you who have been affected,” Goldstein continued. “As we spoke at the beginning, any time someone does not feel safe. It is not at all unwell and not something we can allow. As for the details of what happened, we want to wait until the investigation is complete before we say more.”
Hook added, “We’re not shutting down at all. We’re moving forward as a community together.”
Launch House, founded in 2020, started as a new experience of traditional pirate homes. Entrepreneurs are invited to take up residence for four weeks in mansions or rented buildings. In-person residencies are seen as indoor events in the broader Launch House community, which includes digital and physical events, and services that help scale startups and in-house social networks. The co-founders scaled up the startup with multiple venture capital increases, and announced a $10 million investment fund to support Launch House members.
TechCrunch has contacted Launch House for further comments on the investigation and attendance but no response has been received at press time.
Current and former Launch House employees can contact Natasha Mascarenhas via email at email@example.com or on Signal, a secure encrypted messaging app, at 0912 925271.