Scoble: an utterly tone deaf response to harassment allegations

Adam Tinworth
Adam Tinworth

One way or another, Robert Scoble has featured a fair amount on this blog. A quick search reveals that he’s been mentioned 34 times over the last 10 years. I admired his work bringing a human face to Microsoft, back in the day, and I have many friends that call him a friend.

However, I once rode in a taxi with him from an invitation-only dinner to a party, while at a LeWeb conference in Paris. I took the opportunity to probe him gently with a few questions, and came away with the impression that his “affable geek” stage persona was a wrapped around something more calculating. His claims to transparency were, in part, manipulative, because he was showing us something distinctly different from his true self.

But I had no idea how much.

Less than a week ago, he was accused in no uncertain terms of harassment:

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.

Now, Scoble is an admitted recovering alcoholic, and mutual friends were prepared to give him at least some benefit of the doubt, as further allegations emerged.

Well, I think that’s over. In an utterly astonishing move, Scoble reversed his earlier apology with essentially a scathing attack on his accusers. You can read the full post if you like, but here’s a handy summary:

summary for anyone with the sense not to read it

— MicHELL🔥Spookcault (@christapeterso) October 25, 2017

Or, to put it another way:

The Verge‘s Adi Robertson sums it us thus:

But his latest defense puts forward an absurd definition of sexual harassment and effectively accuses women of reporting it to fit in with the cool crowd, while claiming he’s writing in “a spirit of healing.” There’s even a tasteless plug for his latest business venture. It’s one of the most disappointing responses we’ve seen to a sexual harassment complaint, which, after the past few weeks, is a fairly remarkable achievement.

I’ve described his response as the longest career suicide note I’ve ever read, but even that feels inappropriately light for his utter contempt for both his lawyers’ advice and basic human decency. That post is a gift for crisis management PR trainers showing how NOT to do it.

As NYMag‘s Madison Malone Kircher puts it:

It’s the kind of piece that makes you scream a little louder inside your head with each new line you read. It’s also an excellent guide for exactly how not to write a public statement.

All of which is a long way of saying: this is the 35th and final post that will mention Scoble on here. It exists solely to counter-balance the earlier coverage. Unless something dramatic changes, I will not grant this man even the tiny bit of publicity this site offers.

harrassmentRobert Scoblesexismtech bloggers

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Adam is a lecturer, trainer and writer. He's been a blogger for over 20 years, and a journalist for more than 25. He lectures on audience strategy and engagement at City, University of London.