After facing multiple accusations of sexual harassment, Ajit Nazre has disappeared—and left a confusing mess behind at Kleiner Perkins, the top-tier Silicon Valley venture-capital firm where he worked until January.
Nazre’s name appears nowhere in Kleiner Perkins’ response to Ellen Pao, the partner who is suing the venture-capital firm where she works for gender discrimination and retaliation.
Pao accused Nazre of pressuring her into a sexual relationship and retaliating against her after the relationship ended. Perkins’ response only referred to him as a “partner” and Pao’s “alleged harasser.”
Perkins and Pao both said that the firm held an internal investigation into Pao’s complaints. It also, according to Pao’s complaint, investigated another incident in 2011 where Nazre allegedly harassed another female partner. In its response, Perkins did not discuss that other investigation, though it issued a general denial of all of Pao’s “material” claims.
A recent New York Times story cited sources inside the firm saying that Nazre “left of his own volition” before the investigation into Pao’s complaint began. No one has spoken publicly about the other incident of alleged harassment or whether Nazre’s departure was related to it.
That’s not the only place where Nazre has vanished. He is nowhere to be found on Kleiner’s website, which lists some former team members as “partners emeriti.”
We found a Facebook account for Nazre which appeared to be genuine: His friends list matched people we knew were professional acquaintances. We sent a message to the account asking for comment. We didn’t hear back.
We asked a bunch of people who knew Nazre professionally if they’d heard from him or knew how to find him. Nothing.
We called Nazre’s phone number at Kleiner Perkins. It went straight to a full voicemail box.
THE BOARD SEATS
A source close to Kleiner did tell us that the firm was “transitioning” Nazre off of the boards of companies where he represented the firm.
This is not a simple process. Unless he voluntarily resigned, each company’s board would have to take a vote on whether to kick him off and accept any replacement. (Details vary based on the company’s specific rules.)
Not every venture investment requires or allows a board seat, of course. But most startups consider it prestigious to have a Kleiner Perkins partner on their board.
A GLOBAL TRAIL
Nazre was active on Kleiner’s cleantech team, including investments as far afield as Germany. He also led its India investment initiative. There’s no one currently on point for India. A source familiar with the firm said its investments in the country are now being handled by other partners.
Kleiner made most of its investments in India as coinvestments with Sherpalo Ventures, the investment vehicle of early Google investor Ram Shriram.
“I have had no contact with Ajit in a long while,” Shriram told us.
Sherpalo’s website lists Sandeep Murthy as a representative for Kleiner’s invesments in India, and we’ve confirmed that’s still the case.
Photo: Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers
NAZRE’S PORTFOLIOA published biography of Nazre described him as serving on 10 company boards as a director and as an advisor on four others. That fits roughly with an archived version of his Kleiner Perkins biography from January 2011, which lists 16 active companies and four former ones.
Here’s what we’ve been able to find about their current status. All companies are private unless otherwise noted.
- Agnion: A German biomass startup. Its website still lists Nazre as a board member. Kleiner lists Jan van Dokkum, a non-investing operating partner who advises Kleiner’s cleantech companies, as involved.
- Bekon: Another German biomass startup. Nazre is a member of the supervisory board, a term sometimes used in Europe for the board of directors. Kleiner does not list a partner.
- Cleartrip: An Indian travel startup. Kleiner does not list a partner.
- Futurebazaar: An Indian e-commerce startup. Kleiner does not list a partner.
- Hara Software: An enterprise energy-management software company. Ray Lane, a Kleiner partner who formerly supervised Nazre, dropped other board seats to take over as chairman last year. Kleiner’s Ted Schlein is also on the board.
- Harvest Power: A Boston-area composting startup. Nazre and another partner, Amol Deshpande, served together on this board. Deshpande now serves alone.
- InMobi: A global mobile-advertising network. Nazre was quoted in a InMobi press release in 2011; it’s unusual to see venture capitalists participate in publicity after their initial investment. Kleiner does not list a partner on the investment currently, and the company does not currently publish its board of directors. VentureBeat Profiles lists Nazre as a board member. CEO Naveen Tewari did not respond to an emailed request for comment. After publication of this post, Shrikant Latkar, InMobi’s VP of marketing, told us in an email that Nazre left the board at the end of the first quarter.
- Kotak Urja: An Indian solar startup. Kleiner does not list a partner.
- Kovio: A printed-electronics startup. Kovio’s website still lists Nazre as a board member. It does not list Vinod Khosla, a Kleiner partner emeritus, who includes Kovio among his board seats. Kovio CEO Amir Mashkoori and a spokesperson for the company did not respond to emailed requests for an explanation of the discrepancy.
- MapMyIndia: An Indian digital-mapping startup. No Kleiner partner is listed. No one responded to a request sent through the company’s website.
- Mascoma: A biofuels startup. No Kleiner partner is listed.
- Naukri: An Indian careers website which went public in 2006. No Kleiner partner is credited with the deal.
- PayMate: A mobile-payments startup. Kleiner does not list a partner but the company lists Kleiner’s Ted Schlein as a director. In 2011, it listed Nazre as a director.
- Renmatix: A company whose technology converts cellulose to sugar, useful for ethanol production. Nazre served on the board when the company was known as Sriya Innovations. This was possibly Nazre’s most prestigious board seat, since he served alongside Kleiner partners John Doerr, the firm’s highest-profile investor, and Sun Microsystems cofounder Bill Joy. Kleiner’s Brook Porter has taken Nazre’s seat.
- RLC: An Indian company which handles “reverse logistics,” or returns and refurbishment for electronic goods. Kleiner and Sherpalo coinvested in 2010. Kleiner does not list a partner.
- Spatial Photonics: Acquired by Himax Display. Wen Hsieh and Khosla are credited with the deal.
- Virsa: A maker of corporate-compliance software, acquired by SAP, where Nazre previously worked. Lane is credited with the deal.
- Visible Path: A “relationship capital management” startup acquired by D&B. Lane is credited with the deal.
- ZettaCore: A nanotech startup, reportedly acquired according to the biography of a former executive, though it’s not clear for how much. Khosla lists it as one of his board seats on Kleiner’s website.
- 3DV: An imaging-technology startup acquired by Microsoft. No Kleiner partner is credited with the deal.
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