Bill Gates' Interview Leads To An Awkward Moment At A Kleiner Event

bill gatesBill Gates might have wanted to rephrase that.

Photo: OnInnovation / flickr

Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers held a three-day summit last week for all the CEOs of its portfolio companies in Pebble Beach, Calif.On the speaker list: Microsoft chairman and cofounder Bill Gates.

Overall, his interview with John Doerr, Kleiner’s lead partner, went well, says a source who attended the event.

Doerr got Gates to open up “professionally and personally” and Gates got a standing ovation at the end, according to a Kleiner spokesperson.

But there was one awkward moment.

Doerr asked Gates how he met his wife, Melinda.

“At work,” Gates reportedly said. “Back when that was OK.”

Doerr and Gates shared a laugh at his response. The Kleiner spokesperson says the audience was “entertained” by it.

Dating coworkers is a sensitive topic anywhere these days, but it’s especially sensitive at Kleiner.

The firm is embroiled in a lawsuit alleging gender discrimination and retaliation with one of its partners, Ellen Pao. While Kleiner has denied most of Pao’s claims, both sides agree that Pao’s complaints originate with a sexual affair she had with another partner, Ajit Nazre, who left the firm earlier this year.

Also, Kleiner partner Ray Lane’s wife previously worked for him as an administrative assistant at Oracle.

So Gates’ remark probably resonated even more than he expected it to.

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