UPDATE: Kleiner Perkins has responded to us and tells Pao’s departure story a bit differently.
Another dramatic turn of events in the case of Ellen Pao, who has been suing the VC firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers over gender discrimination. Pao was fired on Monday — a development Pao herself revealed in a Quora post this week, picked up by AllThings Digital. Up to now, KPCB had still employed her as an investment partner, something that Pao herself had confirmed, also in a message on Quora, back in June. KPCB, meanwhile, is still listing Pao on its site as an investment partner as of the time of this writing. Both Quora statements were made from Pao’s verified Quora account.
Pao has also updated her Twitter bio, now describing herself as a ”former” KPCB partner.
Back in June, when someone had asked on Quora if Pao had been fired, she responded directly. “No, and I don’t plan to quit,” she wrote. Now, that original message has been given a chilling (and equally terse) revision: “Update: I have been terminated from my job at KPCB. On Monday afternoon, senior management told me to clean out my office, leave, and not come back.”
Pao alleges that the discrimination and acts of retaliation took place over seven years with the firm. Her original complaint outlines in specific detail how that was directed at her both at a personal level as well as across the whole of KPCB. It is unclear what damages Pao is specifying in her case.
For its part, KPCB has been equally strong in its denial. In a legal response in June, it said it refuted “each and every material allegation of the Complaint and further denies that [Ellen Pao] has been damaged in the manner alleged, or in any manner or amount. KPCB vigorously denies that it discriminated against Plaintiff, retaliated against Plaintiff after she complained about harassment or discrimination, or that it violated its obligation to take reasonable steps to prevent discrimination from occurring.”
Given the clear impasse between the two sides, continuing on as a partner, even if only in name, could not have been anything but awkward, so this latest development, if it is definitely correct, should not come as too much of a surprise.
We are reaching out to both Pao and KPCB for comment and will update as we learn more.
[Image: Sam Pullara, Flickr]
Ellen Pao joined Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers in 2005. Prior to KPCB, Ellen held various operating roles at BEA, including head of business development for products, site manager for new mobile products, and lead for new engineering efforts in India. She also served in corporate development, leading strategic projects for the CEO and M&A transactions. Prior to BEA, Ellen focused on business development and closed technology licensing deals for Tellme Networks and Microsoft’s WebTV division. She also served as...
Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers (KPCB) is a well known Silicon Valley venture capital firm, due in large part to their past success. They were early investors in many significant companies, including Amazon, AOL, Compaq, Electronic Arts, Google, Intuit, Macromedia, Netscape, Segway, and Sun Microsystems. The name of the firm comes from the four founding partners: Eugene Kleiner, Tom Perkins, Frank J. Caufield, and Brook Byers. In March 2008, KPCB announced the iFund, a $100M investment initiative focused on ideas...
Quora, founded in June 2009, first launched in private beta in January 2010. Quora is a continually improving collection of questions and answers created, edited, and organized by everyone who uses it. The most important thing is to have each question page become the best possible resource for someone who wants to know about the question. One way you can think of it is as a cache for the research that people do looking things up on the web and asking...