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'Court of Public Opinion' Has Ruled Against Tech's Diversity Record, Says John Doerr

The VC firm's leader made some of his first public comments in the case on the day a judge awarded $276,000 in trial costs.

Vicki Behringer

“This trial was painful,” said Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers leader John Doerr in an interview with Bloomberg TV about the lawsuit filed against his venture capital firm by its former employee Ellen Pao. “But at the end of the day, six women and six men heard five and a half weeks’ worth of testimony and they deliberated for a day and a half. And they found decisively on the facts that Kleiner did not discriminate, we did not retaliate and that Ellen’s claims had no merit.”

But while Doerr continued to criticize Pao’s investing acumen, saying that it was a mistake to promote her, he admitted that the trial raised larger significant issues.

“Now we know there was a second trial going on in the court of public opinion. And on this topic of diversity, it found against the technology industry and we, in the venture industry, we get that,” he said.

Though she describes her tenure at Kleiner Perkins much more favorably than Pao does, partner Beth Seidenberg also allowed in the Bloomberg interview that she identified with Pao’s experience as one of the only women in many venture capital situations, where small slights can pile up.

“All of us women saw ourselves in this situation,” Seidenberg said. “We’re often the minority.”

Kleiner is now conducting unconscious-bias training for its firm and portfolio companies, Doerr said, and plans to soon release a diversity report about its staff makeup.

Meanwhile, the judge in the case today awarded $276,000 in costs to Kleiner Perkins, making final his recommendation from the previous day. Pao still has about a month to file an appeal.

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