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In the news, Ellen Pao’s trial against Kleiner Perkins begins, Sheryl Sandberg leads Facebook to another milestone and Janet Yellen is in the hot seat.
• Here we go. The highly-watched gender discrimination lawsuit filed by interim Reddit CEO Ellen Pao against her former employer, venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins, began yesterday morning with opening arguments. One of the first expected witnesses is former Trae Vassallo, a former Kleiner Perkins investor who allegedly was told by a senior partner to be “flattered” by the unwanted advances of a male colleague. While many see this case as emblematic of Silicon Valley as a whole, Fortune‘s Dan Primack disagrees because there are so few women working within venture capital: “[Kleiner Perkins] is different from [its] peers, where gender discrimination is codified by gender exclusion. So it’s kind of too bad that this case isn’t a microcosm, because that would at least reflect the existence of more female venture capitalists.”
ALSO IN THE HEADLINES
• Ramping up. Facebook announced that it now has 2 million active advertisers, with COO Sheryl Sandberg attributing the success to better ad products: “A couple years ago, our offering was, ‘Do you want to become a Facebook advertiser?’ That sounds complicated. Now you do a post, and we ask, ‘Do you want to promote this post?’ That’s a pretty easy on-ramp to being an advertiser.”
• A rate hike is coming. In her testimony before Congress yesterday, Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen said the Fed will consider raising interest rates “on a meeting-by-meeting basis.” The language is considered a harbinger of the first rate hike since 2006. Her testimony continues today.
• A sign from Omaha. IBM CEO Ginni Rometty just got a major vote of confidence for her efforts to take the company to the cloud: Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway has increased its stake in the computing giant by 9.2%.
• Come see the softer side. In her last run for president, Hillary Clinton’s team focused on her toughness. If (when?) she runs again, her message will focus more on her gender. Voters will be reminded that Clinton not only is a mother and grandmother, but also a potential history maker as the woman who didn’t just put “18 million cracks” in the “highest, hardest glass ceiling,” but actually is poised to break through it.
• The sweet spot. The cupcake is not the trendy dessert it once was, but with its bite-size, 50-calories-or-less cupcakes, Baked by Melissa has grown into a multi-million dollar company with nearly 300 employees. CEO Melissa Ben-Ishay spoke to the The Wall Street Journal about selling desserts to the masses.
• Underachiever. Fourteen year-old Rachel Zietz has built a $1 million lacrosse equipment company.
• MOVERS AND SHAKERS: Marion Blakey will become the new CEO of Rolls-Royce North America in May. She currently is CEO of the Aerospace Industries Association, before which she led the FAA.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
• See you in Paris. Recent reports point out that while the U.S. lags on female employment, women in France have it much better. Besides the obvious wine and cheese advantage, the French also have a smaller wage gap and higher percentages of female managers and board directors.
• Double-edged mammograms. New breast-imaging technologies are better at detecting cancer, but they’re also more likely to yield a false positive.
• A guru without answers. The man behind Bikram Yoga, Bikram Choudhury, faces six civil lawsuits from women claiming he raped or assaulted them. Choudhury denies all allegations, as the yoga world is being forced to pick sides.
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ON MY RADAR
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|I am big enough to admit that I am often inspired by myself.|
| -- Leslie Knope, Amy Poehler's character on Parks and Recreation. The series finale aired last night. |