Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers partner John Doerr said he was “disappointed” and “betrayed” when he found that Ellen Pao, his former chief of staff, was suing the firm.
“I was sick. It– it was– it was painful. Ellen was a good chief of staff,” Doerr said in an interview with Bloomberg TV’s Emily Chang. “But when I read the charges, I knew from that very moment that these had no merit.”
Doerr, who was joined by Beth Seidenberg, told Bloomberg TV in the interview that his firm has tried repeatedly to settle with Pao outside of courts.
“I’ve always believed that this matter ought to be resolved outside the courts. Believe me, from the very beginning. And it just wasn’t possible,” Doerr said. “If it were that easy, it would have been done. I will just tell you it’s not possible.”
Pao lost all counts of her case against the venture capital firm on March 27, 2015, when a jury found that her gender was not the motivating reason for her not being promoted to a general or senior partner, or for her termination at the firm.
In a move typical for defendants who prevail in employment lawsuits, KPCB filed in April to recover $US973,000 in court fees, but said it would waive its legal costs if Pao gave up her right to appeal. Pao allegedly countered by asking for $US2.7 million instead.
A San Francisco judge ruled today to reduce KPCB’s court costs to $US276,000, which is still a high bill for Pao to pay.
If Kleiner had settled with Pao, Doerr never thought of it as an admission of guilt because it was a question of liability, which the court found in the firm’s favour.
“I’m sorry this happened to Ellen, that it happened to us, it happened to the tech industry,” Doerr said. “This isn’t a question of guilt. It’s a civil case and so the question is liability.”
He continued, “I think it was an error to promote Ellen into an investing partner role. That didn’t work out for her. She was a really good chief of staff but not a good investor.”
Hear more from Doerr on Pao: