Interim Reddit CEO Ellen Pao’s gender discrimination trial against former employer and venture capital powerhouse Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers continued this week with more testimony on her time at the firm.
And while there weren’t any startling revelations or shocking questions on display this week — those came last week when Pao herself took the stand to testify — this week saw expert witnesses and high-profile investors like Mary Meeker give their take on Pao’s case and her professional life.
Here’s what you need to know:
- Investor Mary Meeker, the so-called “Queen of the Internet,” told the court that Kleiner Perkins is “the best place to be a woman in the business” and that nobody treated Pao any differently at the firm even after her lawsuit.
- Kleiner Perkins’ Randy Komisar said that Ellen Pao was “politicking,” trying to get him to resign his seat on the board of startup RPX, and that her firing was a result of her bad attitude.
- Similarly, Kleiner Perkins general partner Matt Murphy suggested that Pao was let go because of a “cultural fit” even though her performance was above par.
- Murphy says that Pao was given a chance for a six-month phased departure from Kleiner Perkins — in direct contrast with her allegation that they showed her the door immediately.
- We heard again about a plane ride Pao took with members of the firm where she alleges that they talked openly about their favourite porn stars. Witness Andrew Jody Gessow, a private equity investor, says it never happened and that there was only a brief conversation about the Playboy mansion and how its real estate stock had traded down.
- Judge Kahn told Pao and her legal team that they need to do better to prove their case for punitive damages, which would allow Pao to ask for more than the $US16 million settlement she’s going after.
- An independent expert found that Kleiner Perkins’ much-discussed investigation into gender bias in the firm wasn’t good or complete enough.
- Another independent expert, a Harvard professor, found that Kleiner Perkins employs more women than most other venture capital firms.
- Finally, the jury asked Matt Murphy the best question of the trial so far: “How long does it take to become a thought leader? Can it be learned? Can it be taught? Is it possible to never become one?” (The answer: It takes hard work and initiative and willingness to learn, so there you have it.)
Pao’s lawsuit continues. The final word on punitive damages may come as soon as Friday afternoon.