Pao’s gender-bias case against Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers closes as the venture capital firm says in a court filing that its award for court costs against her is resolved. The company says it has accepted a payment or performance other than the amount ordered by the judge.
Pao files to abandon her appeal.
Pao drops her appeal against Kleiner Perkins, saying she cannot afford the risk of incurring additional costs to fight the company. Pao says she has not reached a settlement with the firm and will pay some of its $275,000 legal fees.
This battle has been painful for me personally and professionally, and also for my family. It is time to move on. I look forward to continuing the conversation about workplace equality and to building great companies in the technology industry.
Kleiner Perkins said in a statement that it was glad to put the case behind it.
There is no question diversity in the workplace is an important issue. KPCB remains committed to supporting women and minorities in venture capital and technology both inside our firm and within our industry.
In an article for The Washington Post, Pao says trolls are winning the “battle for the internet”. She says that, while at Reddit, she and several colleagues, were targeted with harassing messages, attempts to post her private information online and death threats.
I have just endured one of the largest trolling attacks in history. And I have just been blessed with the most astonishing human responses to that attack…Balancing free expression with privacy and the protection of participants has always been a challenge for open-content platforms on the Internet. But that balancing act is getting harder. The trolls are winning.
The foundations of the Internet were laid on free expression, but the founders just did not understand how effective their creation would be for the coordination and amplification of harassing behavior. Or that the users who were the biggest bullies would be rewarded with attention for their behavior. Or that young people would come to see this bullying as the norm — as something to emulate in an effort to one-up each other…
No one has figured out the best place to draw the line between bad and ugly — or whether that line can support a viable business model. So it’s left to all of us to figure it out, to call out abuse when we see it. As the trolls on Reddit grew louder and more harassing in recent weeks, another group of users became more vocal. First a few sent positive messages. Then a few more. Soon, I was receiving hundreds of messages a day, and at one point thousands. These messages were thoughtful, well-written and heartfelt…As the threats became really violent, people ended their messages with “stay safe.” Eventually, users started responding on Reddit itself, using accurate information and supportive messages to fight back against the trolls. In the battle for the Internet, the power of humanity to overcome hate gives me hope. I’m rooting for the humans over the trolls. I know we can win.
Blount quits after less than two months on the job as Reddit Chief Engineer, having come there from Facebook. She said her move is not directly linked to Pao’s exit, but noted that she had lost confidence in the new direction of the company, and that she could not deliver on promises being made to the community.
I feel like there are going be some big bumps on the road ahead for Reddit. Along the way, there are some very aggressive implied promises being made to the community — in comments to mods, quotes from board members — and they’re going to have some pretty big challenges in meeting those implied promises.
Blount says she believes Pao’s exit was an indirect consequence of gender discrimination, and that Pao had been placed on a “glass cliff” — a term used to describe women being set up for failure by being put in leadership roles during crises.
Victoria wasn’t on a glass cliff. But it’s hard for me to see it any other way than Ellen was. [However] I wouldn’t say my decision to leave was directly related to my gender.
It became clear that the board and I had a different view on the ability of Reddit to grow this year. Because of that, it made sense to bring someone in that shared the same view.
I just want to remind everyone that I am just another human; I have a family, and I have feelings. Everyone attacked on reddit is just another person like you and me. When people make something up to attack me or someone else, it spreads, and we eventually will see it. And we will feel bad, not just about what was said. Also because it undercuts the authenticity of reddit and shakes our faith in humanity.
Reddit board member, Altman:
Ellen has done a phenomenal job, especially in the last few months.
Pao makes an announcement as to how she plans on fixing her mistakes on Reddit.
We screwed up. Not just on July 2, but also over the past several years. We haven’t communicated well, and we have surprised moderators and the community with big changes. We have apologized and made promises to you, the moderators and the community, over many years, but time and again, we haven’t delivered on them. When you’ve had feedback or requests, we haven’t always been responsive. The mods and the community have lost trust in me and in us, the administrators of reddit.
Today, we acknowledge this long history of mistakes. We are grateful for all you do for reddit, and the buck stops with me …
I know these are just words, and it may be hard for you to believe us. I don’t have all the answers, and it will take time for us to deliver concrete results. I mean it when I say we screwed up, and we want to have a meaningful ongoing discussion. I know we’ve drifted out of touch with the community as we’ve grown and added more people, and we want to connect more. I and the team are committed to talking more often with the community, starting now.
Thank you for listening. Please share feedback here. Our team is ready to respond to comments.
Judge Kahn rules Pao will have to pay $275,966 of $972,814 of Kleiner’s costs for expert fees, depositions, transcription and travel for expert witnesses it had incurred during the trial. Kahn allows most of Kleiner ‘s costs for jury food ($177.56), filing and motion fees ($240) and technology equipment rental ($7,196.). However, he notes that under the Fair Employment and Housing Act, the scale of each parties’ economic resources should be considered, and as Kleiner has greater economic resources than Pao, he scales back its cost of expert witnesses. Kleiner says it is pleased with the result:
This tentative ruling recognizes that our settlement offer was reasonable and made in good faith. It also recognizes the cost rules still apply when a plaintiff refuses a reasonable settlement offer and forces the parties to go through an expensive trial.
Pao says Kleiner is improperly publicizing confidential negotiations and asking her to pay unreasonable legal costs. The filing says Pao should not have to pay Kleiner’s “gargantuan and unreasonable charges” of nearly $1 million for expert witnesses and trial expenses. Pao claims that her request for $2.7 million to cover her costs to forgo an appeal, was part of a confidential discussion between attorneys for the two sides, and not intended to be publicized. Kleiner’s attorneys say that it was Pao who made the case so expensive:
If counsel for plaintiff wanted the demand to be confidential he should have said so.
Pao enrages the users of Reddit by deleting /r/fatpeoplehate, a major subreddit with over one hundred and fifty thousand users, as well as four smaller subreddits. Pao says the act is to stop harassment:
We want as little involvement as possible in managing these interactions but will be involved when needed to protect privacy and free expression, and to prevent harassment…It is not easy to balance these values, especially as the Internet evolves. We are learning and hopefully improving as we move forward. We want to be open about our involvement: We will ban subreddits that allow their communities to use the subreddit as a platform to harass individuals when moderators don’t take action. We’re banning behavior, not ideas.
Users accuse Pao for censorship, even those that don’t like the subreddit.
The Company says Pao demanded $2.7 million not to appeal the jury verdict against her. Kleiner’s lawyers also say that Pao can’t use the recent California Supreme Court ruling to invalidate Kleiner’s request for more than $800,000 in expert witness fees because she failed to accept “a reasonable settlement offer” before the lawsuit went to trial.
Pao cannot run up KPCB’s costs through an onslaught of allegations and discovery, and then object when she receives the bill.
They also argue she can afford the request:
Here, public policy clearly does not support reducing the expert fee award because of a low-income plaintiff. At the time Pao left KPCB she made $400,000 annually and regularly received annual bonuses over $100,000. She also received and continues to receive substantial sums in carried interest from KPCB funds. Pao is currently interim Chief Executive Officer at reddit where she makes over $200,000 annually and has millions of dollars in stock options. Pao and her husband own multiple residences.
Pao is obligated, as a matter of law, to repay a portion of our legal costs. We have offered to waive these costs as a good faith attempt to bring this matter to a close. In response, Pao demanded an additional $2.7M payment from KPCB in return for not appealing, despite the jury’s unequivocal verdict in our favor on all counts.
Pao has no comment.
In an attempt to reduce the possibility of a wage gap existing within Reddit, Interim CEO Pao removes the ability of employees to negotiate for their wages at reddit. Instead employees are offered a salary on a take it or leave it basis. This is due to findings that men are better at negotiating their salaries and as such usually end up with a slightly better salary than their female counterparts. Pao urges other companies to do the same, claiming that it is an important step in gender equality.
When somebody comes in we figure out what role they’re applying for, what band they’re in and we give them what we think is a fair salary in that band. It takes a lot of tension out of the process, we’ve had people apply to Reddit just because of that policy.
After a further two hours deliberation, the jury says that Kleiner Perkins did not fire Pao on the the basis of her filing the current lawsuit. Pao:
I want to thank my family and friends and everyone, male and female, who has reached out to tell me their stories. I have told my story and thousands of people have heard it. My story is their story. If I’ve helped to level the playing field for women and minorities in venture capital, then the battle was worth it. Now it’s time for me to get back to my career.
Today’s verdict reaffirms that Ellen Pao’s claims have no legal merit. We are grateful to the jury for its careful examination of the facts. There is no question gender diversity in the workplace is an important issue. KPCB remains committed to supporting women in venture capital and technology both inside our firm and within our industry.
After a 24 day trial, and two days of deliberations, the jury says it finds Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byers innocent on all counts of sex discrimination against former employee Pao. However, when Judge Kahn asks each individual juror their decision, it is discovered that count 4 (was Pao terminated in response to her filing suit) has not been decided fully, having an 8-4 majority, instead of the 9-3 required, and the jury is told to go back. Kahn:
At this point ladies and gentlemen, I must ask you to resume your deliberations.
At Pao’s discrimination case, De Baubigny testifies that she has she has never been discriminated against at the firm, nor in her 14 years of venture experience, and that Pao is somewhat of an unpleasant complainer. She says Pao never talked to her about gender discrimination or retaliation. Describing her relationship with Pao as “mixed” she says of the company:
We feel very strongly that we have an opportunity and a responsibility on this issue [of women in tech] to do something about it. We very much want to ensure that more women build great careers
On Pao’s recruitment:
I had helped recruit Ellen to the firm. I really saw her as a person who could take her talents and apply them well. But consistently from the beginning her interpersonal relationships were troubled with many partners at the firm.
She says Pao’s quiet personality made it difficult to tell whether she had good ideas.
Ellen is an introvert. She was very quiet in meetings, so it was hard to really understand her points of view, whether she had original ideas and perspectives because she wasn’t forthcoming. And then on a one-on-one basis she could be very tough and very critical. In a small partnership it’s really important to build camaraderie, and that was difficult with Ellen.
She also rejected Pao’s testimony that she had called Ajit Nazre a sex addict.
That is completely ridiculous
Toward the end of Baubigny’s testimony, Kleiner lawyer Lynne Hermle asked her what she had meant by being “mortified” by an email Randy Komisar had posted around the firm:
I had written a blog piece for a website called Goop, about a day in the life of a working mama, and he published it around the firm and teased me about it. The website was started by the actress Gwyneth Paltrow — he was just teasing me — about things like having my hair done, all the things working women do
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