Ellen Pao took the stand Monday morning in her sex discrimination trial against venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins, and she revealed that she actually turned down the first job offer she got from the firm.
Pao is seeking $US16 million in damages from Kleiner and alleges she was retaliated against after having an affair with another partner at the firm. Kleiner is known as one of the most successful venture capital firms in Silicon Valley.
In 2005, Pao applied for a role as partner John Doerr’s chief of staff. She was eventually offered the position but turned it down.
“I had conversations with Juliet [de Baubigny] and John [Doerr] and decided ultimately that the role seemed too junior,” Pao said during her testimony Monday.
By the time of her offer, Pao had already graduated from Princeton, as well as Harvard Law School and Harvard Business School. While at graduate school she worked at Cravath, Swaine & Moore, a prestigious New York law firm, as well as Bain & Company, a top consulting company made famous during Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign.
Pao had worked at a number of companies before joining Kleiner, including BEA Systems, a company that sold software to other businesses. Pao said she was be responsible for “90-95%” of the company’s revenues while she worked there as head of business development.
Pao was told that becoming John Doerr’s chief of staff would likely lead to an operating role down the road.
“I’d been running biz dev at a large public company,” said Pao. “I told Juliet I didn’t want to pursue the offer.”
Despite her initial reluctance, Kleiner continued to pursue Pao’s employment.
“John [Doerr] changed the role so it would be more senior, so there would be a new opportunity for me at the end of the role where I could have an investing opportunity,” said Pao.
Pao negotiated a starting salary of $US220,000, plus a large bonus and other incentives before joining Kleiner in June 2005.
“We all look forward to you contributing lots to Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and benefit from doing so,” said her offer letter from Doerr.
Pao ultimately really left Kleiner in 2012, shortly after filing her gender discrimination suit.