Ellen Pao's attorney just revealed the insane salaries top partners at VC firms make

Ellen pao kpcbKPCBEllen Pao, Investment Partner at KPCB

Kleiner Perkins CFO Sue Biglieri took the stand on Thursday in Ellen Pao’s gender discrimination suit against the venture capital firm, where she revealed the vast difference in compensation between junior partners — its employees — and its general partners.

Junior partners, like Ellen Pao was before leaving Kleiner, receive both a salary and a bonus. Pao felt she was left out of top partner meetings and wanted to be promoted to a more senior role, but she never was.

Managing members, which are sometimes called general partners, receive a portion of the profits coming from Kleiner’s investments and its management fees instead of a salary and bonus.

Alan Exelrod, an attorney for Pao, had Biglieri calculate the difference between what partners made after they were promoted from operating roles.

Biglieri calculated — with some help from Judge Kahn — that one partner promoted in 2011 made close to 5x as much as a general partner than as a junior partner. Another partner made 3x after being promoted to general partner. A third employee promoted that year made 4x as much.

When you factor in the kind of salaries Kleiner employees get paid, those multiples represent a lot of cash.

Kleiner attorney Lynn Hermle said Pao’s total compensation in 2011 was $US516,000. So had she been promoted to a general partner it’s safe to say she could have started making anywhere between $US1-3 million.

Pao is seeking $US16 million in damages from Kleiner Perkins. Had she become a general partner there, it’s likely she could have made much more.

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