A Kleiner Partner Got ~$1 Million By Taking A Board Seat Ellen Pao Alleges Should Have Been Hers

Randy Komisar

Photo: Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers

Kleiner Perkins may have cost Ellen Pao $900,000 in compensation, if one of the allegations in her sexual discrimination suit is true.Pao’s suit said that Kleiner Perkins took a board seat away from her, giving it to senior partner Randy Komisar, because Komisar “needed a win.”

In Pao’s lawsuit she didn’t name the company, but we have since identified it as RPX, a patent-litigation technology company in San Francisco.

RPX’s annual shareholder meeting is next week, on June 19. Komisar is one of three board members up for reelection.

According to RPX’s proxy statement, Komisar received options in RPX valued at $896,314. (That’s the present value calculated by RPX, not the amount Komisar might eventually realise from the options upon exercise.) In addition, so far this year, he’s acquired roughly 7,000 shares at a reported transaction cost of $0, currently worth just over $100,000.

(He didn’t actually get those shares for free, of course. They are almost certainly a distribution from the Kleiner fund which invested in RPX. Pao and other Kleiner partners in the fund would have gotten a distribution, too, but Komisar, as a director, is the only one who must report his trades.)

Here’s why this matters: Kleiner’s response to lawsuit, written by some of Silicon Valley’s most expensive lawyers, said that Pao could not prove any specific financial damage.

We’re not lawyers, but it sure seems like losing a board seat that pays almost a million dollars is financial damage. If Pao’s allegation is true, it’s a problem for Kleiner.

A spokesman for RPX earlier declined to comment about the Pao case.

UPDATE: In a previous version of this story, we mistakenly reported that Komisar had sold shares. In fact, he received shares as a distribution. The story has been corrected to reflect that fact. 

Catch up on all the players in the case of Ellen Pao vs. Kleiner Perkins >

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