Kleiner Perkins attorney Lynne Hermle took litigant and interim Reddit CEO Ellen Pao apart in her closing arguments in the ongoing gender discrimination lawsuit that’s rocking Silicon Valley.
As Hermle tells it, Pao never cared at all about helping Kleiner Perkins succeed or about injustice in the firm, she just wanted “a huge payout for team Ellen,” according to a Re/code liveblog.
This cuts to the heart of Kleiner Perkins’ arguments: Pao was a consistent underperformer who failed to advance because of her own shortcomings and inability to work with a team, not because of any institutional bias, Kleiner Perkins says.
And while Pao attorney Alan Exelrod called Hermle’s focus on discussing Pao’s professional demeanour and personal life a distraction earlier today, Hermle takes the exact opposite stance — that this lawsuit only exists in the first place because Pao is petty and vindictive.
“Did KP choose not to promote Ellen Pao because she raised claims, or as the evidence showed, did Ellen Pao raise those complaints because she knew she wasn’t going to be promoted and the writing was on the wall?” Hermle asked the jury.
Hermle’s arguments were accompanied by slides displayed to the court with titles like “Good partner?” and “Pao Was Not a Good Teammate” and “Pao’s Numerous Conflicts: What Is the Common Denominator.”
Hermle also pointed to the recent testimonies in this lawsuit from Kleiner Perkins partners Mary Meeker and Juliet de Baubigny, where they both said that the firm was a great place to be a woman. Similarly, an expert witness found that Kleiner Perkins has an excellent record on women in the industry.
“There may be discrimination in venture capital, the numbers are certainly low, but there was and is no gender discrimination at Kleiner Perkins, where very strong and accomplished women continue to succeed,” Hermle said.
She also continued to pile doubt onto Pao’s story, pointing out several instances of conflicting testimony. Did senior partners talk about porn stars on a plane ride while she was present? Was she patronizingly asked to take notes at important meetings? Did she only disclose her affair with Ajit Nazre, who she didn’t know was married, to get ahead in the firm?
Hermle asks the jury to make “credibility resolutions” about whose version of events is more accurate.
Kleiner Perkins will have the chance to finish its closing arguments tomorrow morning, then the jury will deliberate.