Did Kleiner Perkins ‘fire’ Ellen Pao?

Oct 03, 2012

Dan Primack was a senior editor at Fortune from 2010 to 2016. He was also the author of Term Sheet, Fortune's daily newsletter about deals and dealmakers.

FORTUNE -- Ellen Pao, the venture capitalist who has sued Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers for gender discrimination and retaliation, took to Quora last night to announce that she had been fired.

Here was her message, as first discovered by All Things D: 

“I have been terminated from my job at KPCB. On Monday afternoon, senior management told me to clean out my office, leave, and not come back.”

Kleiner Perkins quickly responded, claiming that Pao is still employed with the firm. In an emailed statement, the firm wrote:

"Ms. Pao’s Quora post is misleading. She remains an employee of the firm. Because of long standing issues having no relationship or bearing on the litigation, Kleiner approached Ms. Pao to facilitate her transition, over an extended period of time, out of the firm. The proposed terms, that did not require Ms. Pao to waive any legal rights or claims, are generous, fair and intended to support Ms. Pao in a successful career transition."

In other words, we are going to fire Ellen Pao. Just not yet. At least not until we reach a mutually-acceptable severance arrangement. In the meantime, we're just having her move her stuff from that desk in the back of our building to her home office, where she’ll be more comfortable. And she’s still free to pursue her legal claims against us.

Messy stuff, and I have no idea why Pao would issue such a statement via Quora (certainly won't help her get another VC job, if such a thing is what she still desires). Kleiner isn’t commenting beyond its statement, and Pao has not returned a request for comment.

For what it’s worth, the two sides had been scheduled to hold a case management conference next Wednesday, but that has now been postponed until Feb. 13, so that Kleiner Perkins’ appeal first can be ruled upon.

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