March 26, 2023

Seven most memorable moments of the Kleiner Perkins trial

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Exelrod-AlanBy Marisa Kendall, From The Recorder
SAN FRANCISCO — The monthlong gender-bias trial against Menlo Park venture-capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers has provided plenty of gaffes, cringe-worthy evidence, scandalous testimony and notable legal performances.
As the jury continues its second day of deliberation and the high-powered lawyers on both sides hang around the courthouse anxiously awaiting a verdict, here is a look back at our seven favorite moments:
7. The time Judge Harold Kahn asked jurors if they had any questions and one hollered “What’s going on?!”
Ellen Pao’s attorney, Alan Exelrod, had dragged Kleiner Perkins lawyer Jessica Perry of Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe and Kleiner general counsel Paul Vronsky to the stand and grilled them on bills they received for consulting work related to expert-witness testimony. When Exelrod finished, Kahn asked for questions from the jury—and got an unexpectedly candid one.
6. When Lynne Hermle name-checked two journalists.
Orrick’s Hermle accused Pao of schmoozing with journalists in an attempt to get publicity for her lawsuit and smear Kleiner Perkins. To prove her point, the veteran trial lawyer mentioned lunches Pao had with a Reuters reporter and a Re/code editor, glaring directly at Reuters reporter Sarah McBride as she said her name. Pao agreed she’d had lunch with the journalists, and said she considers them friends.
5. When Judge Kahn’s cell phone went off in court.
After weeks of grudgingly enduring the cellphone noise and disruptive conversations from the spectators that crowded his courtroom nearly every day, the judge seemed embarrassed when his own phone rang at the end of a break. Kahn apologized, laughed it off and got back to business.
4. When a juror asked Kleiner Perkins’ most famous investor why there aren’t more women in the venture-capital world.
Managing partner John Doerr, who seemed guarded and reluctant to speak throughout his testimony, instantly loosened up. But his answer was an unsatisfying variation on the classic chicken-or-the egg riddle. He said the best investors are usually successful entrepreneurs, and there are too few female tech entrepreneurs because, in his words, “it’s too hard for them to get funded.”
3. That time things got a little steamy.
Exelrod showed the jury two drawings of a naked woman. The images, showing the back of a nude woman with buttocks and one breast clearly visible, were from The Book of Longing by Leonard Cohen, a poetry collection Pao received as a Valentine’s Day gift from a colleague. Exelrod asked Randy Komisar, again and again if he had seen those pictures before giving the book to Pao.
2. When Pao’s team called a surprise witness with a juicy story.
Trae Vassallo, a former Kleiner partner and the first plaintiff witness, told the jury a male colleague had tricked her into going to dinner with him in New York and then showed up at her hotel room door in a bathrobe and slippers. That male partner was Ajit Nazre, with whom Pao had a brief affair in 2006. His inappropriate advance to Vassallo got him fired and bolstered Pao’s accounts of a sexually charged workplace.
1. ‘Why don’t we punt on her and find two guys who are awesome?’
Kleiner Perkins partner Chi-Hua Chien, who organized a 2012 firm ski trip to Vail, Colorado, struggled to explain that comment in an internal email when he took the stand in the first week of trial. Chien testified he had worried men and women would be uncomfortable sharing condos, so he decided not to offer one of the two remaining seats on the private plane to a woman.
IMAGE: Alan Exelrod, Rudy, Exelrod, Zieff & Lowe Jason Doiy / The Recorder
For more on this story go to:
See iNews Cayman related story published March 29 2015 “Ellen Pao loses Silicon Valley bias case against Kleiner Perkins” at:

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