One of the co-founders of Oculus VR has been accused of groping a young woman during a VR demo.
Autumn Rose Taylor alleges that Michael Antonov put his hand up her skirt after offering her a demo at his apartment. Taylor, who is the marketing director of Owlchemy Labs, made the allegation on Twitter on Tuesday, and confirmed it in a subsequent statement to Business Insider. She initially declined to identify the person, but later identified him as Antonov.
“Michael Antonov was a f—ing creep to me at an Oculus event,” she wrote. “Men don’t get to keep doing this.”
Antonov is no longer with Oculus, which was acquired by Facebook. Efforts to reach him for comment were unsuccessful.
Andrew Bosworth, the VP of AR/VR at Facebook, replied to Taylor on Twitter, saying her story was “sickening.”
“I’m sorry it happened then and that you have to face the trauma again now,” he wrote. “I took over our AR/VR and Oculus team in 2018. I do not accept this behavior. I’ve asked to understand how the situations were handled that have been brought up… I care deeply about building a safe and inclusive team, and your voices matter.”
Taylor wrote that she was still in college when she met Antonov at a party at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco in 2016. She said she was excited when he offered to show her unreleased demos.
“They showed me VR demos, but put their hands up my skirt while they did so — WHILE I WAS STILL IN VR,” she wrote. “The shock and fear of that happening while I was essentially blindfolded.”
I was new. I remember trusting them, they're an important person that I admired. So naive! They showed me VR demos, but put their hands up my skirt while they did so— WHILE I WAS STILL IN VR. The shock and fear of that happening while I was essentially blindfolded.
— Autumn Rose Taylor 🌹 (@lusterly_) August 27, 2019
She wrote that she was afraid and wanted to leave. She told Business Insider that she tried to keep her distance from him, and avoid eye contact, and returned to her hotel room at the first opportunity.
“I was afraid of being blacklisted from the industry I had just joined and was so excited to be a part of,” she wrote. “I was afraid of potentially severing a relationship between the VR company I worked for and Oculus. I was just… so afraid.”
She wrote that she felt like an idiot for trusting him, and wondered if she had somehow agreed to the encounter.
“But that’s bulls—,” she wrote. “This man was like… 30? I was still in college! How dare he.”
Explaining her decision to identify Antonov by name, she wrote, “That this experience sticks with me years later… means something. This person in a position of power when VR was new made me feel small. I shouldn’t discredit my experience.”