With the trial already underway, now would be a good time to catch up on what has happened so far in the Ellen Pao / Kleiner Perkins lawsuit.
We’ve summed up key events and commentary below from what may be Silicon Valley’s most important trial of the year.
New York Times: Ellen Pao Suit Against Kleiner Perkins Heads to Trial
The New York Times offers a fairly comprehensive overview of the facts so far including, most importantly, the basis of each party’s argument.
Ms. Pao says a married colleague pressured her into an affair and then retaliated against her when she broke it off. When she complained, she says she was discriminated against and got poor reviews, resulting ultimately in her dismissal. She accuses Kleiner of treating her “despicably, maliciously, fraudulently and oppressively” from “an improper and evil motive amounting to malice.”
Kleiner fired back last week in a scorched-earth response filed in civil court here, saying the affair was consensual and there was no discrimination. Ms. Pao did not succeed at Kleiner, the firm said, because she “lacked the ability to lead others, build consensus and be a team player, which is crucial to a successful career as a venture capital senior investing partner.”
The New York Times goes on to comment about the culture of Silicon Valley, painting a picture of rampant office hookups, megalomania, sexism, and the venture capitalists that support them.
TechCrunch: Ellen Pao “Owns The Room”
So far in the trial, Pao appears to present her case quite well. Pao claims that Ajit Nazre, her partner in the affair central to this case, sought retaliation after she ended their relationship. She also claims that several other male employees of Kleiner Perkins treated her unfairly during the course of her employment, building a case for a culture of discrimination at the firm.
USA Today has a different take on the trial so far, pointing out inconsistencies in Pao’s description of Nazre’s initial encounters.
This case isn’t just about financial restitution for Pao. The venture capital world has a notoriously problematic record when it comes to women in the workplace.
… the case isn’t only about the money. Rather, she seemingly wanted to make a point about the boys’ club of Silicon Valley and air some of the secrets of the firm where she felt so mistreated — and perhaps make things a little easier for women who follow her.
The worst trolls of Reddit have been out in full force, putting the CEO on trial for her personality, her looks, her motivations, and just about everything else. Warning: The comments are pretty ugly.
Finally, Pao’s quest to tell her story is not only justified by her allegations and the reactions of the Reddit community. There is a quantifiable problem amongst venture capital firms, adding further fuel to this fire.