Ellen Pao, who’s suing the fabled venture-capital firm of Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers for gender discrimination and retaliation, is showing up every day for work with the partners she’s accused of doing her wrong—and who have accused her of lying.”I don’t plan to quit,” she wrote on Quora Monday, as TechCrunch noted.
She’s even going out for cocktails with her colleagues. Sort of.
Reuters Sarah McBride reported this scene at a recent Kleiner Perkins party held at Reposado, a Mexican restaurant just off University Avenue in downtown Palo Alto:
There, Pao held court on one side of the room, greeted with hugs and hearty handshakes by a number of start-up entrepreneurs she has worked with. Meanwhile, other Kleiner partners at the bash—including Matt Murphy and Ted Schlein—clutched their drinks and steered clear of their suddenly famous colleague.
At the entrance, two arrivals loudly told the female Kleiner assistants who were greeting guests: “I’m on team Ellen.”
Those two aren’t the only ones. PEHub, a private-equity news site, polled its readers about how the case affected their view of Kleiner; 69 per cent said it had changed their opinion of the firm for the worse. Her Quora post drew a dozen or so comments, almost all expressing strong support.
Pao is on the board of three Kleiner-backed startups, including Flipboard, a hot maker of software for reading content on smartphones and tablets—one of Kleiner’s highest-profile bets on mobile and social apps.
Top Kleiner partner John Doerr has said Pao’s claims are false. In other word, he’s calling her a liar. Why does he want her representing the venture-capital firm on Flipboard’s board, then?
Of course, for Kleiner to take any action against Pao while the lawsuit is pending would be legally suicidal for the firm—it would be a prima facie act of retaliation.
And Pao, by continuing to show up for work, could be seeking to demonstrate that her job performance isn’t an issue—not to mention picking up a paycheck and a long-term share in Kleiner’s profits.
Of course, if things are awkward now, imagine how they’ll get when Kleiner and the individual partners named in the lawsuit file their response.
Pao filed her lawsuit on May 10. Kleiner’s response is due on June 13.