The Scott Kveton affair

| Print |  Email
Wednesday, July 09, 2014

ScottKvetonBY LINDA BAKER | OB EDITOR

Scott Kveton, the CEO of Urban Airship, is taking a leave of absence from the company, effective immediately, the Portland Business Journal reported yesterday. An article published in the Oregonian last week stated Kveton is under investigation for allegedly sexually assaulting a former girlfriend.

As the story continues to unfold, here’s my perspective on a few of the key players:

The Oregonian:  The O's original article was so salacious that of course I devoured every word. But by the end of the story my professional instincts kicked in. The entire article could have been distilled to one or two sentences, something along the lines of: “Scott Kveton, CEO of fast- growing mobile app startup Urban Airship, is under investigation for sexual assault.”  The rest was gratuitous detail.

The Oregonian, of course, has been burned repeatedly on sexual assault stories, getting scooped on the Bob Packwood and Neil Goldschmidt scandals.  And one could argue that Kveton is a quasi public figure, a symbol of Portland's booming software economy. The fact remains that the story was utterly sensational — and something of a hatchet job since Kveton has yet to be arrested, much less convicted.

Urban Airship: After the Oregonian story was published, the company released a statement that the investigation was a personal matter for Kveton. That messaging changed yesterday, when Urban Airship announced that new chief financial officer, Mike Temple, will take over as interim CEO. In a letter to employees, Kveton also revealed that he had been planning to exit the company for several months and said that a search for a new CEO has been underway for "a few weeks," the Portland Business Journal reported.

Although the situation can't be pleasant for Urban Airship’s 164 employees, the company will likely survive these allegations unscathed. Urban Airship attracted $46 million in venture funding this last year alone...from the likes of True Ventures, The Foundry Group and August Capital, plus investments from Intel and Verizon.

Portland’s tech community:  Kveton is the second Portland tech executive to face sexual assault allegations in the past year. Whether this will be a wake up call for the city’s young, brash and male-dominated software leadership remains to be seen.

It may also be a wake up call for civic boosters. To be sure, software companies are creating jobs, investing in the local economy and revitalizing the urban landscape. 

But as tech companies become an increasingly powerful force, Portland business and government leaders should pay attention to the protests targeting software companies in San Francisco, where tech executives, and their employees, are viewed as arrogant, entitled - and destroyers of the community fabric.  See Nathan Heller's latest New Yorker article: San Francisco vs the Tech Industry: The tech industry made the Bay Area rich. Why do so many residents hate it?

Scott Kveton: Stories about powerful men and sexual assault invariably have the same ending. And Kveton will likely rise from the ashes, no matter what the outcome.  Still, his story begs a more literary interpretation. Five years ago, Kveton was unemployed; he launched Urban Airship with the help of the Oregon Self Employment Assistance Program, designed to give the unemployed the option of starting their own business instead of hunting for a new job. His star rose quickly — perhaps too quickly.

Hubris: it's a disease that can topple executives and companies alike.

 

Comments   

 
Guest
0 #1 FounderGuest 2014-07-13 01:04:38
Media companies love drama. They also jump to conclusions and grab headlines. People with money attract golddiggers and and con artists like ants to a sugar bowl. Why does society ASSUME he is guilty? Have a trial BEFORE you hang him, before you vilify a man, and by association, his family, children, co- workers, and the many who struggle with running companies. Before you accuse him, before you judge him, at least, at the very least .. .. hear his side of the story.
Stop jumping the gun, drawing conclusions from innuendos without fact checking first. This kind of story is why I cancelled my subscription.
Quote | Report to administrator
 

More Articles

Leading with the right brain

News
Tuesday, December 09, 2014
120914-manderson-thumbBY LINDA BAKER

On the eve of the Portland Ad Federation's Rosey Awards, Matt Anderson, CEO of Struck, talks about the transition from creative director to CEO, the Portland talent pool and whether data is the new black in the creative services sector.


Read more...

The city as startup

Guest Blog
Wednesday, January 14, 2015
011415 citystartup-thumbBY NISHANT BHAJARIA | OP-ED CONTRIBUTOR

Startups in the growth phase are associated with a fresh infusion of capital — human and financial — a curiosity factor and products to disrupt the market and drive demand. Portland’s economy gives off the same aroma.


Read more...

Transportation Fairness Alliance holds demonstration in Pioneer Square

The Latest
Wednesday, January 14, 2015
IMG 3367BY JACOB PALMER | OB DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

Portland's cab companies urged city hall for consideration as officials weigh new rules for Uber and other ridesharing companies.


Read more...

Taking the lead in boosting Oregonians’ health and strengthening our economy

Contributed Blogs
Thursday, January 08, 2015
0108-injection-thumbBY CAMBIA HEALTH SOLUTIONS & OREGON BUSINESS COUNCIL | OP-ED

Businesses have a significant stake in the health of Oregonians. In fact, we cannot succeed without it. By committing to using our companies as levers for good health, we invest in our people, our business, our quality of life and our economy. 


Read more...

Free Falling

Contributed Blogs
Thursday, December 18, 2014
121714-oilprice-thumbBY JASON NORRIS | OB CONTRIBUTOR

The implosion of the energy complex: The best thing for low oil prices is low oil prices.


Read more...

Imperial Palate

February 2015
Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Power Lunch at the Imperial.


Read more...

Closing the Gap: The two Oregons and the way forward

February 2015
Monday, January 26, 2015
BY JOE CORTRIGHT

"Nostalgia is not an economic strategy."


Read more...
Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02
SPONSORED LINKS