An investigator hired by Kleiner Perkins to investigate legal complaints said John Doerr told him Ellen Pao had “a female chip on her shoulder.”
The investigator, Stephen Hirschfeld, was testifying in Ellen Pao’s discrimination suit against VC firm Kleiner Perkins on Thursday.
Hirschfeld interviewed Doerr in 2011 after Trae Vassallo, a former Kleiner partner, made a sexual harassment complaint against Ajit Nazre, another former partner.
Nazre is at the center of this case in a couple important ways.
First, Pao disclosed a consensual relationship with Nazre to the firm in 2007. Then, in 2011, Vassallo filed a written complaint of sexual harassment against Nazre to the managing partners at the firm.
Pao’s attorney, Therese Lawless, tried to show how Kleiner Perkins had downplayed Nazre and Pao’s affair during the investigation of Vassallo’s complaint.
“Doerr told me that Ray Lane [a partner at the firm and the former President of Oracle] had told him that it was not uncommon for folks at Oracle to have relationships when they were working together,” Hirschfeld testified.
Pao’s lawyer also tried to show how Nazre had contributed to an uncomfortable working environment at Kleiner.
Hirschfeld said in court that Vassallo said she was angry that Nazre had been “preying” on female partners at the firm and that Pao had told her she left the firm’s green investment group because of difficulties working with Nazre.
Hirschfeld ultimately determined that Nazre pursued Vassallo twice while at Kleiner and that Nazre had repeatedly lied to him.
“Playboy and Pornstars”
Around the time Hirschfeld delivered his report on Vassallo’s complaint, Kleiner Perkins asked him to look into a broader complaint Pao made against the firm.
Hirschfeld said he first met with Pao about her complaint in a 5-hour meeting, where she told him she believed there was sexism at Kleiner Perkins.
Hirschfeld detailed a conversation Pao had with him about an uncomfortable private jet trip with partner Ted Schlein, and Dan Rosensweig, the CEO of Chegg, a company Kleiner Perkins had invested in.
Rosensweig allegedly expressed excitement about going to a Victoria’s Secret show and said he was thinking about bringing Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer onto Chegg’s board because she was “really hot.” He also talked about the Playboy mansion and pornstars, according to testimony.
“Dan had said, according to [Pao], that there were a lot of hot pornstars there,” he said.
Hirschfeld testified that Pao was asked whether she liked or knew of any of the pornstars they were talking about.
The implication from Lawless’ questioning was that Kleiner Perkins wasn’t a comfortable workplace for women while Pao was working there.
Pao is expected to take the stand on Monday.