Legendary VC John Doerr of Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers is speaking out publicly at last against a lawsuit filed by one of its investment partners, Ellen Pao.
She accused Kleiner of sex discrimination by failing to promote women, failing to pay women the same as men, and lots of other appalling things.
In response to the suit, Kleiner issued a formal statement, but today Doerr posted an open letter on the KPCB site calling Pao’s claims “false allegations.”
John Doerr, Bing Gordon, Ray Lane, Chi-Hua Chien, and Ted Schlein are all named individually in the suit, as well as the firm itself.
The lawsuit is fully of juicy accusations (we’ve got a copy posted on Scribd, here). For instance, Pao alleges that a former partner, Ajit Nazre, made “inappropriate sexual approaches” to her and then admits that she “succumbed.”
Here is the full message:
A Message from KPCB Partner, John Doerr
The last several days have been a difficult time for me and my partners at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, a firm I’m proud to have been a part of for 32 years. It is not easy to stand by as false allegations are asserted against the firm, especially because legal constraints prevent us from responding fully at this time. But we have been heartened to hear from so many people—including many women—who have reached out to convey their support.
We have taken great care to treat this situation seriously, swiftly, and with integrity. We hired an expert, independent investigator to conduct a thorough inquiry. The investigator’s report concluded that the allegations are without merit and that our firm does not discriminate on the basis of gender.
In the end, facts—not unfounded claims—will determine the outcome of the suit filed against us. We will vigorously defend our reputation and are confident we will prevail.
But until this matter is resolved I hope those judging Kleiner Perkins will remember one thing about us: our pioneering track record in diversity.
We have long believed the best thinking comes from a diverse set of minds and have highly valued diversity in our partnership and ventures. We are proud of our track record. Our firm today is one of the most diverse in gender, age and ethnicity, as is our equally diverse network of great entrepreneurs, including the women who founded or lead companies such as Auxogyn, Coursera, Genomic Health, Lockerz, One King’s Lane, Plum District, Rent the Runway and Veracyte, among others. Most importantly, we’re backing them not because they are women, but because they are the best at what they do.
That is the same reason we have a dozen female partners at our firm—the most of any leading venture capital firm—including women who are leaders across our Digital Growth Fund, our newest venture fund, our Life Sciences Venture Team, our Human Capital Team, and our Marketing and Communications and Finance functions. They are outstanding executives and leaders.
We are fortunate and grateful to have so many supporters who continue to believe in Kleiner Perkins and our values. Thank you all for your unwavering and heartfelt support.