In a recording of a public presentation played in Ellen Pao’s discrimination suit against venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins, partner John Doerr told Sequoia Capital’s Mike Moritz that the most successful tech entrepreneurs are “white, male, nerds.”
Doerr was giving a keynote with Moritz at a National Venture Capital Association meeting in 2008, when he described being in an Amazon warehouse and seeing programming language books next to titles like “The Joy of Sex.”
“These were male nerds trying to get help from an online service,” Doerr said.
“That correlates more with any other success factor that I’ve seen in the world’s greatest entrepreneurs. If you look at [Amazon founder Jeff] Bezos, or [Netscape founder Marc] Andreessen, [Yahoo co-founder] David Filo, the founders of Google, they all seem to be white, male, nerds who’ve dropped out of Harvard or Stanford and they absolutely have no social life,” he said.
The implication was that Doerr has preconceived notions of who is more likely to be successful in the tech industry, and that Pao did not fit that profile.
But testifying on Wednesday, Doerr pointed out some of the female-led or founded companies Kleiner had backed, like Flipboard, One Kings Lane, and BlueOak.
During testimony the previous day, Doerr said he didn’t consider Kleiner Perkins to be a firm run by men, but he admitted that the number of women in venture capital overall was “pathetic.”