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Former GitHub CEO Is Placed On Leave

NEW YORK (The Deal) -- GitHub, the California-based coding workflow optimization and management tool, has ousted one of its co-founders as a result of allegations about sexual harassment, sources said Monday.

The allegations are against another employee, not co-founder and former CEO Thomas Preston-Werner, who was identified by a source Monday as the person who was placed on leave.

When the company's current CEO Chris Wanstrath said earlier on Monday that a "relevant founder" had been placed on leave in the wake of the allegations, he was referring to former Preston-Werner, a source familiar with the situation said.

Attempts to contact GitHub for comment did not receive a response by press time.

The issue of sexual harassment in one of the country's hottest startups comes at a difficult time for GitHub. In 2012, the company took on a $100 million Series A round. But the allegations that a female developer at GitHub raised, including intimidation from a founder's spouse, as well as an environment in which harassment of women was allowed to persist, has the potential to unravel corporate environments just as the company is hitting its stride.

It also comes at a time when Silicon Valley has come under repeated criticism for having a tin ear on women's issues.

The person making the allegations, engineer Julie Ann Horvath, who first took to Twitter to air her dispute, in an interview with blog TechCrunch also said she was sexually harassed by another employee at the company, who was not named.

Preston-Werner himself has not been accused of any harassment.

Backers in the startup include seed funds Y Combinator, and SV Angel, as well as Andreessen Horowitz.

Another wrinkle on the Horvath-GitHub situation is the timing of Preston-Werner's departure from the CEO role at the company. In her account to TechCrunch, Horvath claims to have met with her boss' wife, a meeting in which she expressed that she felt intimidated. In Wanstrath's Monday blog post, he said "[t]he founder's wife discussed in the media reports has never had hiring or firing power at GitHub and will no longer be permitted in the office."

Wanstrath took the CEO role in January 2014, according to Preston-Werner's statement on the company's blog Jan. 21. Wanstrath had previously served as CEO prior to the $100 million round the company raised in 2012. And, at least on Jan. 21, the company put an optimistic spin on the personnel switch: "2014 is going to be an exciting year. I, for one, can't wait to see what happens!" Preston-Werner wrote.

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