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Ellen Pao: 'I Have Decided to End My Lawsuit Against Kleiner Perkins'

It's over.

The epic and historic lawsuit that has rocked tech over the last year is over.

In a statement today, former Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers partner Ellen Pao said she would not pursue an appeal against the storied Silicon Valley venture firm in her gender discrimination and retaliation claim. Pao lost the case in a jury trial in San Francisco earlier this year and was weighing her next steps.

Steps she said today in an interview she would not be taking. “I think I brought these important issues to the forefront of the conversation, but the online aggression has had a toll on me and my family,” she said. “That so many people heard what I had to say, against all that was brought to bear against me, is a testament to the depth of the problem related to women and tech … [But] I have gone as far as I can go and cannot commit the resources and time that would be needed to continue.”

As part of the end of the lawsuit, Pao said she would pay Kleiner Perkins close to $276,000 in legal fees, which carried a 10 percent annual interest. But Kleiner had previously said it would waive those fees if she dropped the appeal, so it is not clear if Pao will be on the hook for those costs that included witness fees.

Still, Pao underscored that the deck was stacked against her in terms of resources.

“I think it is wrong that employees have to pay in this situation, but I simply cannot afford the risks of more costs to fight a firm with massive PR and legal resources,” she said. “The court system is not set up to create an even playing field.”

Kleiner has asserted since it won the trial earlier this year that Pao had no grounds for appeal, which Pao did not agree with. In a statement, she said: “To be clear, Kleiner and I have not reached any agreement to settle this matter. Settlement might have provided me with financial benefits, but only at the great cost of silence.”

When reached, a Kleiner Perkins spokesperson said a statement: “We are glad to put this trial behind us. 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.”

As Re/code noted when Pao lost the trial in March, the faceoff brought into stark relief the issues around women and technology:

In a case that has captivated audiences well beyond the tech industry, Pao filed suit in 2012 against the storied Silicon Valley venture capital firm, where she had been a junior partner. Had the jury found in her favor, she could have won as much as $160 million. Through 24 grueling days in a downtown San Francisco courthouse, she exposed stories of all-male company ski trips and sexual harassment of another partner at the firm.

She also brought up smaller slights: Double standards in how aggressive women are allowed to be and how their success in investments translates into promotions.

Kleiner Perkins came back with a brutal, and ultimately successful, attack on her performance and personality, which they said was just not right for “Team KP.”

While Pao’s story may have helped provoke a broader conversation about gender imbalance and bias outside of the courtroom, in court she lost on all counts.

Today, Pao, who recently stepped down as the interim CEO of Reddit after disagreements there over how to deal with controversial posts and other issues, said it was worth it, but it was now time to move on. She said she would continue to speak out on issues of gender disparity, but she was spending time with her family and also returning to investing and working with entrepreneurs.

“I have been reengaging with friends and colleagues,” she said. “It’s over.”

Here is Pao’s full statement; you can click here for a post she wrote exclusively for Re/code on her decision not to appeal, in which she underscores in detail her inability to compete with Kleiner.

I have decided to end my lawsuit against Kleiner Perkins.

I feel gratified that my actions have encouraged others to speak up about discrimination in venture capital and technology more broadly. I am encouraged that companies are taking more action to quantify and address the disparity of opportunities for women and minorities.

To resolve the lawsuit, I will pay Kleiner Perkins for its legal costs as awarded by the court, although I firmly believe people who bring employment discrimination claims in good faith should not be forced to pay their employer’s legal bills. I will also drop my appeal, since I cannot afford the risk of even more costs to fight against a firm with tremendous financial resources and massive legal and PR armies.

To be clear, Kleiner and I have not reached any agreement to settle this matter. Settlement might have provided me with financial benefits, but only at the great cost of silence. To quote their lawyer, “KP is not interested in a settlement without a non disparagement provision,” meaning I would not be free to speak the truth about my experiences. I refuse to be silent on these important issues.

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.

This article originally appeared on

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