DataCamp CEO Steps Down After Sexual Misconduct Allegations Prompt Backlash

DataCamp co-founder and CEO Jonathan Cornelissen stepped down after sexual misconduct allegations promoted teachers to boycott their own classes.

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Apr 25 2019, 8:32pm

Image: Matt Anderson Photography/Getty

Jonathan Cornelissen, co-founder of data science and coding learning platform DataCamp, is taking an "indefinite leave of absence without pay" as Chief Executive Officer of the company after allegations of sexual misconduct prompted DataCamp teachers to boycott their own classes, according to an apology Cornelissen published Thursday and a blog published Wednesday by DataCamp.

In his apology, Cornelissen said that DataCamp would be establishing an Instructor Advisory Board to “determine the best path forward for the company,” and that a independent third party would be auditing the company’s “environment and culture, including its response to the incident.” According to DataCamp's blog, any possibility of Cornelissen returning to the company "will be based on the findings of the independent third party review."

As reported by Motherboard earlier this month, multiple DataCamp teachers urged students to boycott their courses in response to the company failing to respond to allegations of sexual misconduct against one of its executives. The instructors could not take down their online courses, on account of their contracts.

Despite its disciplinary action toward Cornelissen, DataCamp’s delayed response to Cornelissen’s behavior remain a concern for some academics. On April 18, data scientist Nate George, tweeted that he was developing a course for DataCamp, but was ceasing development “until the leadership makes a big change in their behavior.” Today, he asked, “Will it be enough?”

The alleged incident, according to a blog published by DataCamp’s Leadership Team on April 4, took place in October 2017. The blog says, “at an informal employee gathering at a bar after a week-long company offsite, one of DataCamp’s executives danced inappropriately and made uninvited physical contact with another employee while on the dance floor.”

The blog—which was in response to an open letter published by DataCamp instructors on April 3, condemning the “untenable situation” of sexual misconduct within the company—did not outline any further disciplinary actions for the then-unnamed executive. Rather, it said that he had to undergo “sensitivity training,” and “personal coaching,” and received a “strong warning” about sexual misconduct.

In his apology letter, Cornelissen apologized for the lack of transparency regarding his alleged sexual misconduct. “I have failed you twice,” he wrote. “First in my behavior and second in my failure to speak clearly and unequivocally to you in a timely manner.”

Correction April 26: A previous version of this article said that Cornelissen resigned, and the article was changed to reflect the fact that he is taking an indefinite leave of absence without pay.

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