A gender discrimination trial against one of Silicon Valley’s most prestigious venture capital firms is providing a rare peek into the elite investment companies vying to fund the next Google Inc and Amazon.com.
Their partnership rosters are stacked with some of the US’ most accomplished graduates — multiple-degree holders from universities such as Harvard and Stanford. However, they are also places where women are grossly underrepresented.
Ellen Pao’s lawsuit goes further, describing Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers as an old-boys club where women were allegedly excluded from parties at former US vice president Al Gore’s house, asked to take notes at a meeting like secretaries and subjected to harassment and boorish behavior by their male colleagues.
The case has put a spotlight on gender inequities in the technology sector at a time when it is booming and creating new millionaires, but generating resentment from people who feel left out and victimized by its success, which they blame for higher rents and gentrification.
The trial has also brought some of the US’ most accomplished venture capitalists into the courtroom, where they have faced tough questions about sexual harassment and the behavior of men in the workplace.
Pao has mostly sat quietly and declined media questions during breaks in the proceedings. She was due to begin testifying yesterday.
However, the jury has heard hours of testimony from her former colleagues, including one of her mentors at the firm, billionaire investor John Doerr, who was placed in the awkward position of defending his company while acknowledging that the dearth of females in the venture capital industry is “pathetic.”
A Babson College study released last year found that women filled just 6 percent of the partner-level positions at 139 venture capital firms in 2013, down from 10 percent in 1999.
Doerr said 20 percent of partners at Kleiner Perkins are female, and he has worked hard to recruit more women. He has disputed Pao’s contention that she was passed over for promotions because she was a woman and then fired in 2012 after she complained.
Like the Kleiner Perkins legal team, he says Pao, 45, did not get along with her colleagues — a requirement for the junior partner position she moved into in 2010 after serving as his chief of staff.
Doerr testified he was a loyal supporter of Pao’s and tried to help her succeed at Kleiner Perkins. As a member of the Kleiner Perkins management team, he said he fought for Pao to stay with the company and objected when other partners wanted to let her go in 2011.
Pao is seeking US$16 million in damages. The firm is seeking to limit any possible damages by arguing that Pao is well-compensated in her current position as Reddit interim chief executive officer.
POOR INTERNAL CONTROLS: Insurance Bureau Director-General Shih Chiung-hwa said the company is expected to get back on track while its chairman is suspended The Financial Supervisory Commission (FSC) yesterday fined Shin Kong Life Insurance Co (新光人壽) NT$27.6 million (US$939,415) for a reckless investment that endangered its solvency, and suspended its chairman Eugene Wu (吳東進) for poor supervision. The penalty is the second-highest in a single case after Nan Shan Life Insurance Co (南山人壽) was fined NT$30 million in September last year and its chairman Du Ying-tzyong (杜英宗) suspended for two years, the commission said. In three rounds of special and regular examinations conducted since last year, the commission found that Shin Kong Life had given too much power to an asset and liability management committee
Sony Corp has cut its estimated Play Station 5 (PS5) production for this fiscal year by 4 million units, down to about 11 million, following production issues with its custom-designed system-on-chip (SOC) for the new console, people familiar with the matter said. The Tokyo-based electronics giant in July boosted orders with suppliers in anticipation of heightened demand for gaming in the holiday season and beyond, as people spend more time at home due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the company has come up against manufacturing issues, such as production yields as low as 50 percent for its SOC, which have cut into
HEAVY INVESTMENT: Moody’s affirmed the firm’s ‘Aa3’ rating with a ‘stable’ outlook due to its leading position in the industry and ability to match customer requirements Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co’s (TSMC, 台積電) revenue this year is expected to increase about 21 percent to NT$1.29 trillion (US$44.01 billion) from NT$1.07 trillion last year, driven by strong demand for advanced 5-nanometer and 7-nanometer chips mainly used in smartphones and high-performance computing devices, a Moody’s Investors Service report on Wednesday said. TSMC’s rate of revenue growth next year is to increase to 7.5 percent, the ratings agency said. The company, which supplies 5-nanometer chips for Apple Inc’s new iPad series, has introduced the advanced chips ahead of its competitors and gained a significant share of the market for the foundry industry’s
O2O BICYCLE SHOW: The Taiwan Bicycle Show next year is to be online to offline, with forums, audio-visual conferences and livestreaming of the offline events Local bicycle makers expect demand to continue outpacing supply due to orders triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic, with some companies seeing orders back up through next year. “Next year is all full in terms of orders. Our lead time on components is one year,” Giant Manufacturing Co Ltd (巨大機械) chairwoman Bonnie Tu (杜綉珍) told a news conference in Taipei organized by the Taiwan External Trade Development Council (TAITRA) to announce next year’s Taipei Cycle Show. The pandemic has reduced bicycle supplies and increased demand around the world, Robert Wu (吳盈進), chairman of KMC (Kuei Meng) International Inc (桂盟國際), one of the world’s