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Juliet de Baubigny Says She Never Felt Discriminated Against at Kleiner Perkins

Kleiner is a very pro-woman place, she said.


Today, Juliet de Baubigny, a partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers specializing in recruiting efforts, took the stand in the latest star testimony in Ellen Pao’s gender discrimination suit against her former employer.

De Baubigny, who kept a withering gaze on Pao’s lawyer, testified she’d never been discriminated against at the firm, or in her 14 years of venture experience, and that Pao was just something of an unpleasant complainer. Pao never talked to her about gender discrimination or retaliation, said de Baubigny, who recruited partners and oversaw performance reviews.

But Pao’s attorneys showed Pao had written to de Baubigny about problems with Ajit Nazre, whom Pao had dated and then who, she alleged, discriminated against her.

Throughout her testimony, de Baubigny said she felt the firm was a very pro-women place.

“We feel very strongly that we have an opportunity and a responsibility on this issue [of women in tech] to do something about it,” she said. “We very much want to ensure that more women build great careers.”

How would she describe her relationship with Pao, Kleiner lawyer Lynne Hermle asked.

“Mixed,” de Baubigny said.

“I had helped recruit Ellen to the firm,” she continued. “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.”

Did Pao tell de Baubigny various complaints about colleagues — male and female — at the firm? Hermle asked.

“Do you want me to list them? There are quite a lot of them,” de Baubigny said, launching into a list of 11 different partners and Pao’s complaints.

She said 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,” De Baubigny said. “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.”

To the point-blank questions of whether she’d seen any indication of retaliatory behavior or gender discrimination at the firm, de Baubigny said she had not.

Did Trae Vassallo and Ellen Pao come to her for advice on Nazre?

Pao’s attorney Therese Lawless stood to begin the cross examination.

She established first that de Baubigny had never been an investing partner, that her role was only in recruiting.

Lawless called up a complaint filed by Trae Vassallo, a colleague of Pao’s who was sexually harassed by Ajit Nazre, whom de Baubigny helped promote. De Baubigny said Vassallo had never spoken to her about Nazre or sexual harassment in the 2011 to 2012 time period.

But Vassallo at least believed they had spoken.

Vassallo had written: “In May 2011, Ajit was appointed to lead my annual performance review along with Ray,” referring to partner Ray Lane. “Up until that point, I was doing my best to put Ajit’s sexual advances behind me, but I also deemed it appropriate to reach out to Randy, Juliet, and Ray to discuss the situation in the event that my review had a strong negative bias from Ajit.”

Nazre — despite having harassed Vassallo, who then complained about it — completed her performance review.

Vassallo told an investigator that she’d gone to de Baubigny after a particularly disturbing harassment incident with Nazre. De Baubigny did not recall having that conversation. Though later, she did “vaguely recall” Vassallo coming to her to talk about Nazre, but she said it was a brief and “insignificant” conversation in the hallway.

Nor did she recall having any conversations with Pao about Nazre’s treatment of her between 2007 to 2009.

And yet in May of 2009, Pao submitted a question to de Baubigny through a self-review: “How do you suggest I work with Ajit, if at all?”

De Baubigny did not recall any conversations with Pao about Nazre around that time.

Another odd moment with Randy Komisar

Toward the end of de Baubigny’s testimony, Kleiner lawyer Hermle wanted to clear up something that had happened to the recruiter at the firm that had nothing directly to do with Pao.

Earlier, de Baubigny had said she was “mortified” by something general partner Randy Komisar did to her — something he’d emailed around the firm.

“You said you were mortified by something Mr. Komisar did?” Hermle asked, bringing it back up and asking her to elaborate.

De Baubigny smiled and said it was actually all in good fun between her and Komisar. She said there was nothing uncomfortable or gendered about his making fun of her and that she actually made fun of him too.

“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,” de Baubigny said, laughing. “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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