OrbiMed founder and managing partner Sam Isaly made it official last week when he relinquished control of the private equity fund in the wake of sexual harassment allegations lodged by several former employees.
Six former employees accused Isaly, a 72-year-old investor long revered in the biotech community for his ability to pick stocks, of routinely demeaning and harassing women with hardcore pornography and sex toys, STAT reported Dec. 5. Isaly has denied the allegations. The sixth accuser contacted the outlet after that story, requesting anonymity for fear of reprisal by the hedge fund.
New York City-based OrbiMed said last December that Isaly would depart “pursuant to years-long succession planning discussions” and did not address the accusations from six women, first reported by STAT. OrbiMed said at the time that a committee of partners of Sven Borho, Carl Gordon and Jonathan Silverstein would take the reins from Isaly.
In a brief April 27 release, the fund again said that Isaly’s departure is the result of “ongoing succession planning” that gives ownership to the five remaining partners – Borho, Gordon, Silverstein, Carter Neild and Geoffrey Hsu.
“Mr. Isaly intends to continue to practice his investment skills as the Chief Investment Officer of the Isaly Family Office, and in other future activities, subject to his obligations to OrbiMed. Mr. Isaly thanks all of his colleagues and friends for their continued support and looks forward to many more years of investing excellence,” Orbimed said.
Yanping Ren, his sixth accuser, was a junior in college when she accepted a part-time internship at OrbiMed. Ren told STAT that Isaly routinely delivered vulgar and demeaning comments to women during her 18-month tenure, including remarks about their bodies. At least once a month, she said, she encountered women crying in the bathroom, “always related to something that happened in the office.”
“It was so normal in the company,” Ren told the site. “It was like a fact of life that everyone had to accept. Sam just did what he could get away with.”
Ren, now 29, told the outlet that she found Isaly’s conduct and its lack of consequences shocking. As her first experience in the world of finance, she assumed it was the norm.
“In college, you kind of hear about how crazy the workplace can be,” Ren said. “So I thought, ‘Oh this is just how it is.’”
Luckily her next job, at Vatera, was the opposite, where her boss was a woman and the culture was one of professionalism and respect, she said.
Although the fund did not respond to questions about Ren’s account, in a statement it said it “takes gender equality seriously and wishes to encourage a supportive work environment and equal opportunity for all employees.”
“When I read that statement, I found it quite funny,” Ren told STAT, “because it’s so far from the truth.”