The CEO of a data science learning startup worth $184 million made 'uninvited physical contact' with an employee while dancing at a bar, sources say

Jonathan Cornelissen datacampJonathan Cornelissen, cofounder & CEO of DataCamp.DataCamp

    • DataCamp, a startup that runs data science courses, disclosed in an April blog post that an unnamed DataCamp executive made "uninvited physical contact" with an employee back in October 2017 and that the company had taken "corrective actions" after learning of the behavior, which it described as "inappropriate."
    • DataCamp course instructor Os Keyes and two sources familiar with the matter told Business Insider that the executive the company does not identify in the blog post is DataCamp's cofounder and CEO Jonathan Cornelissen.
    • DataCamp declined to comment on the identity of the executive in question or specify if their role had changed, but it said it "conducted a thorough investigation and took actions we believe were necessary and appropriate," and that "as a matter of policy, we do not disclose details on matters like this, to protect the privacy of the individuals involved."
    • "We do not retaliate against employees, contractors or instructors or other members of our community, under any circumstances, for reporting concerns about behavior or conduct," DataCamp told Business Insider.
    • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

The data science community is reeling after data science learning startup DataCamp penned a blog post acknowledging that an unnamed company executive made "uninvited physical contact" with one of its employees

DataCamp, a startup valued at $184 million that's raised over $30 million in funding, disclosed in a blog post published in early April that an incident occurred at an "informal employee gathering" at a bar in October 2017. The unnamed DataCamp executive had "danced inappropriately and made uninvited physical contact" with the employee on the dance floor, the post said.

DataCamp, which operates an e-platform where aspiring data scientists can take courses in coding and data analysis, didn't name the executive involved in the incident in its blog post. In the post, DataCamp called the executive's behavior on the dance floor "entirely inappropriate" and "inconsistent" with employee expectations and policies.

DataCamp course instructor and PhD student Os Keyes, in addition to two other sources familiar with the matter, told Business Insider that the executive in question is DataCamp's cofounder and CEO Jonathan Cornelissen.

When reached by Business Insider, DataCamp declined to comment on the identity of the executive, but provided the following statement.

"When we became aware of this matter, we conducted a thorough investigation and took actions we believe were necessary and appropriate," DataCamp said in a statement to Business Insider. "However, recent inquiries have made us aware of mischaracterizations of what occurred and we felt it necessary to make a public statement. As a matter of policy, we do not disclose details on matters like this, to protect the privacy of the individuals involved."

"We do not retaliate against employees, contractors or instructors or other members of our community, under any circumstances, for reporting concerns about behavior or conduct," the statement continued.

Business Insider also reached out directly to Cornelissen for comment, but has not heard back.

A person familiar with the matter said DataCamp plans to provide an update within the next 48 hours.

An open letter signed by 100 frustrated instructors

In the April blog post, the company said it took "corrective actions" with the executive in response to the incident that included sensitivity training, personal coaching, and "a strong warning that the company will not tolerate any such behavior in the future." Additionally, DataCamp said it hired a chief people officer and held mandatory trainings for employees and management.

DataCamp only published its own blog post about the incident after over 100 instructors penned an open letter to the company about its "mishandling of sexual misconduct," DataCamp course instructor Os Keyes told Business Insider. Keyes and the other instructors sent the emailed letter to DataCamp the morning of April 3, Keyes said, a day before DataCamp's blog post went live.

The letter, viewed by Business Insider, called for DataCamp to publicly address this accusation and take action to prevent further issues from happening.

Specifically, the letter claimed: "Although DataCamp has communicated to some instructors that there has been an investigation by the DataCamp board into sexual misconduct, major concerns remain," the letter reads. "Because we care deeply about fairness and safety, the data science community, and DataCamp itself, we are unable to cooperate with continued silence and lack of transparency on this issue."

Many of these signees view DataCamp's response so far as inadequate. Keyes, a PhD student at the University of Washington, called DataCamp's post a "non-statement" and decided to boycott the platform - and remove their course offerings - in response.

Keyes isn't alone. Several instructors have publicly said they have pulled their courses from DataCamp. Influential open source communities, including RStudio, satRdays, and R-Ladies, have cut all ties with DataCamp.

Work at DataCamp? Contact the reporter of this story at pleskin@businessinsider.com.

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