After a bit of jury confusion, the Ellen Pao vs. Kleiner Perkins case ended late Friday afternoon with the former venture capitalist losing each of her claims of gender discrimination and retaliation.
Kleiner Perkins professed vindication, saying that the “verdict reaffirms that Ellen Pao’s claims have no legal merit.” Pao went for moral victory, saying: “If I have helped to level the playing field for women… then the battle was worth it.”
These two statements have, in many ways, become the two most dominant post-verdict storylines.
The first, as best expressed by Roger Parloff, is that Pao’s legal case was never terribly strong. Many of her side’s most explosive allegations were really more about sexual harassment than gender discrimination, but she only sued for the latter.
The second, as best expressed by Katie Benner, is that the case “broke wide open the issue of sexism” in tech and VC. The testimony, Benner argues, was more important than the verdict.
As for the former: Yes, Pao always had a very steep hill to climb — particularly given the haze in which all venture capital partnership promotions seem to occur. This isn’t about someone hitting a certain revenue threshold, or landing a Fortune 500 account. But, that said, 25% of the jury found for Pao. Obviously not enough to help her win, but also not a complete repudiation of her allegations.
As for the latter, we’ll see if the “conversation” leads to any tangible actions. Call me cynical, but I’d doubt it. Remember, a large number of venture capital firms don’t have a single female investment staffer, let alone a female partner. It’s hard to see how this trial — and the immeasurable damage to KP’s reputation — will help persuade these old boys clubs to diversify. Moreover, VC partnerships, by their nature, are slow to change. Most firms add a new partner, at best, once every few years. Even a dedicated industry effort to add more senior women would be slow going. So consider me hopeful, but not terribly optimistic (if that makes sense).
More myopically: For KP, this trial actually came at a good time. It doesn’t need to raise new funds right now, so has some time before having to answer tough LP questions. If it uses that grace period to make great new investments and generate large distribution checks from old ones, then little of this will matter for its future survival. If IRRs sag, however, the case should make it much easier for LPs to cut bait.
As for Pao, it’s back to running Reddit. She’s still got the interim tag, and I’d think the company has put itself in a PR pickle as to its ultimate decision on removing it. If it thinks she deserves the job full-time, then great. If not, it may have a problem on its hands. Like KP, however, Reddit has some time to work things out, as Pao last fall was basically given one year to prove she deserves the job.
• Related: Ajit Nazre, the bath-robed man at the center of Pao vs. KP, is still working in venture capital. Really.
• Stiff competition: We recently mentioned that the former IT investing team of Atlas Venture was crowd-sourcing a new name, with plans to grant a $50k investment in its latest fund to whoever comes up with the chosen moniker. Through last Wednesday, more than 4,000 people had suggested more than 12,000 names. Also, one-third of those participating ignored the firm’s request that the suggestions not include the words “ventures” or “capital.”
• Game Time: The NCAA tournament is down to the Final Four, and our current leader is Ted Lobst (who I’ll assume is this guy, but I’m not 100% sure). Ted’s got Duke beating Kentucky in the final. Next up is Mark Yurko of Spurrier Capital Partners, who has Wisconsin topping Duke in the end. Continued good luck to all.
THE BIG DEAL
• United Health (NYSE: UNH) has agreed to acquire Catamaran Corp. (Nasdaq: CTRX), a Schaumburg, Ill.–based pharmacy benefits manager, for $12.8 billion. The $61.50 per share purchase price represents a 27% premium over Friday’s closing price for Catamaran stock. Read more.
VENTURE CAPITAL DEALS
• Novan Therapeutics, a Durham, N.C.-based developer of nitric oxide therapies for dermatology, has raised $50 million in new VC funding led by Malin Corporation PLC (ISEQ: MLC). Existing backers include 5AM Ventures, Astellas Venture Management, Clarus Ventures, OrbiMed Advisors and U.S. Venture Partners. www.novantherapeutics.com
• Auctionata, a Berlin-based startup that live-streams art and collectibles auctions, has raised $45 million in Series C funding. MCI Management led the round, and was joined by Hearst Ventures. Read more.
• LimeRoad, an India-based online fashion scrapbooking site, has raised $30 million in Series C funding. Tiger Global led the round, and was joined by Lightspeed Venture Partners and Matrix Partners India. Read more.
• Gelesis, a Boston-based developer of therapies for weight loss and glycemic control in overweight and obese patients, has raised around $22 million in new funding (including conversion of $4m in notes). No investors were identified. www.gelesis.com
PRIVATE EQUITY DEALS
• Aleph Capital Partners and Crestview Partners have agreed to acquire a 30% stake in British telecom company Interoute Communications from the Sandoz Family Foundation. No financial terms were disclosed for the deal, which is expected to close by the end of April. www.interoute.com
• EIG Global Energy Partners has agreed to invest $1 billion into Breitburn Energy Partners LP (Nasdaq: BBEP), including $350 million in convertible equity and $650 million in senior secured notes. Read more.
• Investcorp has agreed to acquire Nobel Learning Communities Inc., a West Chester, Penn.–based operator of private preschool and K-12 schools, from Leeds Equity Partners and Partners Group for $405 million (plus assumption of indebtedness). www.nobellearning.com
• Platinum Equity has agreed to acquire PrimeSource Building Products Inc., an Irving, Texas-based building materials distributor, from ITOCHU Corp. (Tokyo: 8001). No financial terms were disclosed. www.primesourcebp.com
• RedBird Capital Partners has agreed to spin NFL On Location out from the National Football League, with the NFL retaining a minority position. The business, which is the NFL’s official event and hospitality unit, will be led by former IMG sports and entertainment president George Pyne (who also is investing in the spinout via his Bruin Sports Capital). Expect the newly-independent company to expand beyond NFL events. www.nfl.com
• Four companies are expected to price IPOs this week: GoDaddy, Kornit, Wowo and View Ray. Read more.
• MultiVer Inc., a Houston, Texas-based biotech company focused on oncology, has filed for a $70 million IPO. It plans to trade on the Nasdaq under ticker symbol under ticker symbol MVIR, with RBC Capital Markets serving as lead underwriter. www.multivir.com
• MYOB, an Australian accounting software company owned by Bain Capital, is launching it’s a$2.8 billion IPO as early as tomorrow. Read more.
• Horizon Pharma PLC (Nasdaq: HZNP) has agreed to acquire Brisbane, Calif.-based Hyperion Therapeutics (Nasdaq: HPTX) for $955.7 million in cash. The $46 per share deal represents a 7.6% premium over Friday’s closing price for Hyperion shares. Current Hyperion shareholders include New Enterprise Associates (11.48%), Sofinnova Ventures (9.34%), Bay City Capital (7.5%), Panorama Capital (4.8%) and Highland Capital Partners (4.13%). Read more.
• Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) has acquired LiveLoop, a San Francisco-based provider of cloud collaboration software. No financial terms were disclosed. LiveLoop had raised VC funding from Columbus Nova Technology Partners, New Enterprise Associates and Webb Investment Network. Read more.
• Terra Firma has hired Deutsche Bank and JP Morgan to find buyers for German motorway service station group Taoutnk & Rast, according to Reuters. The deal could be valued at upwards of $3.8 billion, with several suitors lining up. Read more.
• Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. (NYSE: TEVA) has agreed to acquire Auspex Pharmaceuticals Inc. (Nasdaq:ASPX), a La Jolla, Calif.-based developer of treatments for hyperkinetic movement disorders like Huntington’s disease. The deal’s equity value is $3.5 billion, or $101 per share (42.43% premium over Friday’s closing share price). Auspex shareholders include Thomas McNerney Partners (15.2% equity stake) and Foresite Capital (12.2%). www.auspexpharma.com
• Chevron (NYSE: CVX) is seeking to sell its 50% stake in oil refiner Caltex Australia (ASE: CTX) for A$4.7 billion. Read more.
• Fujifilm Holdings Corp. (Tokyo: 4901) has agreed to acquire Cellular Dynamics International Inc. (Nasdaq: ICEL), a Madison, Wis.-based platform for manufacturing human cells. The deal is valued at approximately $307 million, or $16.50 per share (108% premium to Friday’s closing price). www.cellulardynamics.com
• Intel (Nasdaq: INTC) reportedly is considering a takeover of chipmaker Altera (Nasdaq: ALTR), which had a market cap of $10.4 billion before a Friday WSJ report about the possible deal. It would be Intel’s largest acquisition ever. Read more.
• J&T Private Equity Group has acquired around a 7.9% stake in Slovenian fuel retailer Petrol. Read more.
• Madison Square Garden Co. (Nasdaq: MSG) announced that it will split the company into two entities: One to operate pro sports franchises (NY Knicks and NY Rangers), and the other to operate its regional sports television networks. Read more.
• Slater and Gordon, an Australian law firm, has agreed to acquire the professional services group of UK-based Quindell (LSE AIM: QPP) for US$947 million. Read more.
FIRMS & FUNDS
• Bridgepoint has closed its fifth flagship European private equity fund with €4 billion in capital commitments. Read more.
• Fortissimo Capital, an Israeli VC firm, is raising its fourth fund, according to a regulatory filing. The firm raised $265 million for its third fund in 2011. www.ffcapital.com
• Social+Capital Partnership is raising up to $150 million for an “opportunities fund.” The Silicon Valley venture firm also is in the midst of raising up to $450 million for its third flagship fund. www.s23p.com
• Warburg Pincus is preparing to target $12 billion for its twelfth flagship private equity fund, according to Reuters. It currently is investing out of an $11.2 billion eleventh fund that closed two years ago. Read more.
MOVING IN, UP, ON & OUT
• Tom Furlong has joined DLA Piper as a partner in the firm’s West Coast corporate practice. He previously was a managing director with Granite Ventures. www.dlapiper.com
• Mina Mutafchieva has joined Palamon Capital Partners as an associate principal. She previously was an engagement manager in the Antwerp office of McKinsey & Co. www.palamon.com
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