Anne Aloha Ward, the COO of San Francisco-based virtual reality startup UploadVR has quit her job within six months of joining. Prior to joining UploadVR, Ward was working as the CEO of CircleClick.
In May, UploadVR was accused of bringing prostitutes to a work party and for setting up a ‘kink room’ for sexual exploits. Elizabeth Scott, who used to work for UploadVR as the director of digital and social media, sued UploadVR, claiming that the “rampant sexual behavior and focus” made it an unbearable place to work.
In the lawsuit, Scott claimed that the company encouraged sexually explicit behavior among its employees. This further enabled them to set up a kink room, where underwear and condom wrappers were often found. They even invited prostitutes and strippers to a party during a conference in Los Angeles. According to Scott’s statement, female employees, including her, were excluded from lunches, meetings and important emails; instead, they were asked to do menial tasks like cleaning the kitchen. Scott also stated that she was terminated by the company after complaining about the sexual harassment.
Per a recent news report, Scott and Upload reached an agreement to end the lawsuit. Upload co-founder and CEO Taylor Freeman confirmed that “the matter has been concluded.” However, he did not provide any specific details about the agreement.
After the sexual harassment lawsuit, Ward faced a lot of criticism from the VR community for showing support for the company and its co-founders, who faced a lot of opposition from the internal and external community and calls for them to step down.
Following this lawsuit, the company decided to make changes in its management. Ward was a product of those changes.
Freeman and fellow co-founder Will Mason denied the allegations back in May.
“We are confident that the true nature of how we treat our employees and how we operate as leaders will shine through this unfortunate situation and confirm that these allegations are entirely without merit,” they wrote in an emailed statement.