(Reuters) – A California jury on Friday cleared venture capital firm Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield and Byers of gender discrimination claims brought against it by a woman former partner in a trial that transfixed Silicon Valley.
The verdict dashed Pao’s hopes for personal vindication, but the trial’s embarrassing disclosures about how Pao and other women were treated at Kleiner have cast a long shadow over Silicon Valley corporate culture and its lack of diversity.
The California Superior Court case laid bare the personnel matters of the firm that backed Google Inc and Amazon.com Inc, with Pao’s attorneys painting Kleiner as a quarrelsome pressure cooker where a former male partner used business trips as opportunities to make advances to female colleagues.
Pao, now interim chief executive at social-news service Reddit, claimed her standing at Kleiner crumbled after she ended a brief affair with partner Ajit Nazre. Her career deteriorated after he and Kleiner started retaliating against her, amid a climate that was overall unfriendly toward women, her lawyers argued.
The firm disputed those charges, presenting evidence that Kleiner went out of its way to hire women.
Pao sought to illustrate her point with testimony from former Kleiner partner, Trae Vassallo, who said Nazre appeared at her hotel room on a business trip. He wore a bathrobe and carried a glass of wine, according to testimony.
Kleiner countered that it investigated Nazre after Vassallo complained, after which he quickly left the firm.