Image credit: Brian Solls, www.briansolis.com, bub.blicio.us.
I saw Robert Scoble’s tweet about his blog four minutes after he published the article. I sipped my tea, slowly. I didn’t expect him to confront the sexual harassment allegations against him, but here was a WordPress blog post tackling the tech publications head on. 2,435 words of defence. Beautiful.
I clicked the article.
Fifteen minutes later I opened up Virtual Perceptions, and cracked my knuckles.
I’m going to break down, bit by bit, why Rob Scoble is a complete tool. A person who absolutely deserves the hate he is receiving. Scoble attempted to portray himself as a fallen angel rising to become better. Instead he shows he is a sexist egomaniac who is full of shit.
How does he not know what sexual harassment is?
Let’s look at this paragraph, where Scoble straight up doesn’t understand sexual harassment:
“I don’t have employees, I don’t cut checks for investment. None of the women who came forward were ever in a position where I could make or break their careers. Sexual Harassment requires that I have such power.”
No it doesn’t, Scoble. You don’t need to be part of a company to sexually harass someone. If I went into a bar and grabbed someone by the buttocks, I’m pretty sure I can’t say to the police it’s okay because I am not their manager. Come on.
Can I point out also that Scoble is the ‘entrepreneur-in-residence’* of UploadVR, where there have been allegations of women feeling very uncomfortable with their ‘rampant’ sexual behaviours. I cannot find any link, though I am curious why Scoble doesn’t mention UploadVR in the blog itself.
*which is the wankiest title I have ever heard
“TechCrunch and Business Insider “broke” the news, but in a move inconceivable to me, they didn’t do any diligence to verify the accusations made against me. I recognize that these two organizations are basically just Gossip Blogs at this point, and that “If it bleeds it leads” is a way to generate click bait, but I expected more of them.”
You are a liar. Steven Tweedie posted evidence of the team reaching out to you. One on Facebook, the other to your personal email address with the title ‘Comment for Business Insider.’ I don’t know about you, but if I was an influential tech person, I would notice an email header like that.
“Then there is the actual truth of the allegations. Each of the women who have come forward used grains of truth to sell false narrative. Perhaps because they felt peer pressure to join the #MeToo bandwagon, perhaps because they felt slighted for other reasons. I won’t speculate on their motives.”
No Scoble, I am pretty sure your victims are not joining the #MeToo bandwagon to slight you. I am pretty sure they are speaking out to say how you hurt them.
Let’s break it down like this. Let’s say you hurt them – and they then tell the world how you hurt them. They may say how you hurt them in a myriad of ways, and you will try to contextualise it in a way to make you feel better. “She wanted my influence.” “She wanted my money.” “She wanted to shame me.” And let’s say you’re even right about any of those points.
That doesn’t matter. No matter what her motivations, no matter the context, you still hurt her. Don’t try to justify the pain you inflicted, because nine times out of ten you probably the problem first and foremost.
Sarah Seitz and I had an online affair… [Seitz] attempted to blackmail me by threatening to tell my wife, Maryam, which she did shortly thereafter. I deeply wronged my wife by engaging in this behavior. I hurt my family.
To your credit, you pointed out yourself that you had an affair. Nice work.
The next few articles show Scoble giving his two cents on several allegations made towards him. Each provide context, and each provides his viewpoint on what happened. Fine and good, but after the article was published, Quinn Norton and others have been tackling him saying that his views are false, not a full picture. In any case, I do not like that he uses another person’s trauma to partially clear his name.
Whatever the truth, it seems clear that Scoble had either misjudged his actions, or there are grains of truth in all of what the women say. Considering how much of a fight they are putting up against Scoble, consistently without backing down, then I am willing to bet that Scoble might be twisting the iron to save his hide. It takes two people to have an affair.
Oh, except the below part. This is one case where it seems to be pretty cut and dry, and substantiated by a lot of people online. Scoble says this:
“Michelle Greer, who I worked with at Rackspace, was never in a reporting structure beneath me, and while we engaged in flirtations, the limits of the impropriety was that I was flirting with someone when I was married.”
Actually, it was sexual assault. “I remember seeing him with two drinks in his hand,” she told BuzzFeed News. “My boss sat next to me, and Scoble sits across from me and starts touching my leg.” She said that she told the group she was tired and had to go up to her room. This was ratified later by other people at the event (though not employers, interestingly)
“I am deeply apologetic that I have wronged my wife. I apologize to women in general that I could have been a better man and husband. Every act of infidelity, every time I have watched an adult video online, every time I have made an inappropriate joke, or laughed at one, I have wronged women.”
What is worrying is that you never seemed to have cared. You are apologetic for wronging women, yet you do it consistently, never developing. Over many years, you never got better. So you’re either bad at following through with your promises (which is bad), or you don’t actually mean your statement (which is worse).
Scoble then explores how he ‘champions all entrepreneurs equally,’ regardless of race or colour. Good to know he fills the basic requirement, but considering the shit he is receiving, I guess I understand why he needed to reinstate the obvious.
The article then transitions to discussing family (which works to his favour by humanising his struggles), and then a strange turn on social media:
“Part of my fascination with social media over the years has been in how it gives a voice to anyone who wants or needs it. The problem is that while it extends great power to those who use it responsibly, it also extends great power to those who want to use it to harm others.”
I know right? It’s almost like there is an open platform for people to comment on your stories and provide evidence against you. I appreciate it may harm you, but if it’s harming you with literal screenshots of your conversations with them, then good riddance. I’ll always defend an open field for discussion.
“I have helped amplify the message of others when I felt it appropriate to do so, but I have been careful about promoting damning posts without checking their validity. TechCrunch and Business Insider failed in this regard. They set out to profit from the harm to me without regard for the truthiness of the story.”
On another day I would agree. Reporting on speculation does lead to good clicks, and publications can profit with only a semblance of substantiation. But firstly, we have identified that they did attempt to investigate the story properly. Secondly, I like that the news will report on how some people might be pillocks – it’s great to have free press. Thirdly, and rather ironically, a tonne of tech publications are reporting on what you wrote in your blog, word for word. They’re accurately reporting how much of a prick you sound like.
“I have said many times in the past I have been working to be a better person, and overcome my addictions, and repair the relationship with my family. I am blessed to have a wife who has continued to love me through adversity, and kids who care so much about me. Many friends have supported me in this both before and after these most recent allegations. I thank them for their support. It means a great deal that so many have stood by me when it would be easier to distance themselves.”
Hats off to the family. I will always respect anyone who stands by the people they love, and there is no joke in that. I have seen several cases of Scoble caring about family, so I grant him the decency of this statement.
When I finished reading the article, I had a good idea of how Scoble copes with stress.
Scoble creates a different reality, with himself as the victim. Victim of addictions, of his sexual cravings, and sometimes a victim of circumstance. And from this bedrock Scoble defends himself against the allegations, creating a new, false narrative. In Scoble’s mind, he is never fully at fault, and he is really working hard to be a better person, pretty pinkie promise.
In reality, Scoble is a victim of only one thing – his own self-created delusion. It’s his way of coping with the situation, and it betrays what actually happened. Over and over again Scoble has hurt others, and the blog post tries to paint over the cracks so poorly that the internet has erupted. His statements on sexual harassment was plain wrong. Scoble also conveys himself as a self-important person who believes he is above people. In short, Scoble’s calm and friendly demeanour covers a self-inflated heart who believes himself to be truly superior over others.
Scoble has done his part for the tech industry, and I am sure he has left a positive impression for many tech entrepreneurs. But any sort of harassment must be condemned, and outright lies must be identified with a thousand spotlights directly on his pale, shaking face.
In the beginning of the article, Scoble notes that he is ignoring his lawyer’s advice. He has done us all the fantastic effort of going against his paid lawyer’s advice, pulling up his trousers, and saying, “yup, I can totally sort this out.” Guess he should have followed it, really.