Kleiner Perkins’s Doerr Says Felt ‘Betrayed’ by Ellen Pao Suit

John Doerr: Ellen Pao Charges Had No Merit

John Doerr, general partner of Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, said he felt ``betrayed'' by Ellen Pao’s claims of gender discrimination at the venture capital firm.

“I read her suit and the world that she described was not what our partnership is or what we stand for,” Doerr, who joined the firm about 35 years ago, said in an interview with Emily Chang broadcast Thursday on Bloomberg Television’s Studio 1.0. “I was sick. It was painful. Ellen was a good chief of staff, but when I read the charges, I knew from that very moment that these had no merit.”

A San Francisco jury rejected Pao’s claims in March in a case that riveted Silicon Valley and opened a larger conversation about gender imbalance within the tech community.

Pao has filed notice that she’ll appeal the verdict. On Thursday, San Francisco state court Judge Harold E. Kahn awarded the firm about 28 percent of the trial costs it sought from Pao. Kleiner Perkins had reiterated on Wednesday that it would drop its costs request if Pao would forgo an appeal. Before the trial, Kleiner Perkins had proposed to settle the case for $964,502, an offer Pao argued wasn’t a “good faith” effort to resolve the dispute. She has since sought $2.7 million to abandon the appeal.

“If it were that easy, it would have been done. I will just tell you it’s not possible,” Doerr said of efforts to settle during the interview taped prior to Thursday’s ruling. “I’m sorry this happened to Ellen, that it happened to us, it happened to the tech industry. This isn’t a question of guilt. It’s a civil case and so the question is liability.”

Diversity Focus

Kleiner Perkins is changing how it operates after the trial, including implementing unconscious bias training and publishing its own diversity report, he said. The firm also is hiring a female partner this summer.

“We are doubling down on diversity,” Doerr said.

Pao sued in 2012, claiming she was subjected to a sexually charged atmosphere at Kleiner, preyed on by male colleagues, denied raises and promotions and fired because she’s female. Women at Kleiner were marginalized throughout her tenure, she said, excluded from outings on private jets to ski resorts, left out of important dinners with portfolio company executives and interrupted or ignored at meetings.

Kleiner said Pao was fired because she bickered with partners, had no entrepreneurial experience and lacked deep expertise in technologies that would be ripe for investment.

During his interview, Doerr said it was a mistake to promote Pao into an investing partner role.

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