Five months after we wrote about Shirley Hornstein and how she fooled a number of startups, Hornstein has responded in a blog post apologizing for her behavior and declaring that she has “made the decision to stop.”
My initial post included a legal complaint by Founders Fund against Hornstein alleging that she had been falsely claiming a connection to the venture capital firm and its partners, and I also posted a number of images where Hornstein had Photoshopped herself next to celebrities. Other than that, I didn’t delve into many specifics, instead outlining a pattern of behavior that I’d heard about from a number of sources, where Hornstein would get involved in startups by claiming important Silicon Valley connections and making big promises, then fail to deliver. BetaBeat went into more detail, describing allegations that included credit card fraud.
Hornstein’s post doesn’t discuss specific incidents, but is instead a broad acknowledgment of consistent lying:
For as long as I can remember, I have been lying. From the simple white lies, to the “if-I-say-this-I’ll-get-what-I-want” lies, and the this-could-have-serious-consequences lies, I’ve told them (probably even to you). In fact, I have spent the last 26 years (or, my entire life) lying to, deceiving and manipulating everyone around me, including myself. It finally, publicly, and devastatingly caught up to me last year and I made the decision to stop.
Hornstein says that her “life came crashing” down as a result of the post, with the loss of her job and friends. She also speculates that lying became her “coping mechanism, because it allowed me to cover up everything I hated about myself – my body, my (normal) upbringing, my (non-ivy) education, my job (or sometimes lack thereof), my (nonexistent) friends, and my constant fear of being unimportant.” And yes, she apologizes and says that she’s serious about changing her behavior:
For the first time in my life I sought out professional counseling and have spent the last five months learning to work through my insecurities, processing my past and am trying to understand why I have such an addictive relationship with lying. I don’t think it’s too late for me to grow into the person I want to be, and while I know that I might make mistakes in the future, I will continue to grow & learn and do the best I can. Doing so will also mean making amends for my past behavior. I want to start building my life in an honest way, and I hope that the people I hurt will be able to see that harm was never my intention, and how truly sorry I am to have put them through this.
You can read more here.