Top Investment Executive Fired in Rare Chinese #MeToo Flare-Up

(Bloomberg) -- Venture capital powerhouse IDG Capital has fired one of its top investment managers after investigating allegations circulated on social media that he’d made sexual advances toward women in the course of his work.

The VC firm fired Jiang Zuo on Tuesday after conducting an internal investigation into the harassment allegations. It concluded “his actions and words were against the values IDG represents,” Tian Tian, a spokeswoman for the company, said Thursday by phone.

Jiang, who also goes by Douglas, didn’t respond to multiple requests for comment sent to his WeChat account and phone, while calls to his mobile went unanswered. Several of his contacts agreed to forward queries to Jiang privately, without eliciting a response. IDG didn’t respond to a Bloomberg News request to be put in touch with Jiang.

Jiang mainly oversaw cryptocurrency projects for IDG, a backer of some of China’s highest-profile internet companies from SenseTime, the world’s most valuable artificial intelligence startup, to top bitcoin mining outfit Bitmain. He’s now also one of the highest-profile industry figures to have been taken to task publicly for sexual harassment in China. While the #MeToo movement’s claimed powerful men from Hollywood to Silicon Valley, instances within Chinese industry circles remain few and far between -- partly due to censorship.

But Jiang’s case, which came to light through a series of messages leaked on the country’s most popular social media service, hit a nerve. IDG said it investigated screenshots of alleged online propositions that emerged on his own WeChat Moments -- a space reserved for people to post content they want visible to contacts. Bloomberg hasn’t verified the accuracy of the exchanges.

While China has long dealt with endemic gender discrimination away from the public spotlight, the #MeToo movement has begun to make waves even there. Student activists in the past year have sought to air issues of harassment across the country. The tech space itself is rife with examples of workplace discrimination: some of its largest companies post job ads that use women as bait to lure male workers, for instance.

IDG will “improve its management system and enhance staff ethics to prevent similar events from happening,” it said in a text statement.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.