Good morning, Broadsheet readers! Ellen Pao lost her gender discrimination suit against Kleiner Perkins. What does that mean for the future of women in tech? In other news, a slew of women are running for Senate, and Carly Fiorina says she’s “more than 90%” likely to seek the GOP presidential nomination. Make it a great Monday.
• The decision–and the discussion. Ellen Pao on Friday lost her gender discrimination case against VC firm Kleiner Perkins. “If I’ve helped to level the playing field for women and minorities in venture capital, then the battle was worth it,” said Pao in a news conference following the reading of the verdict. The Internet was immediately flooded with think pieces attempting to parse the implications of the decision for women in tech. I recommend Katie Benner’s BloombergView post, “Ellen Pao Lost, Women Didn’t.” Benner points out that a number of earlier cases of sexism in Silicon Valley went largely unnoticed, while the Pao/KP case became a subject of national conversation. For another good read, check out Roger Parloff’s Fortune story, in which he argues that, while Pao’s decision to come forward will ultimately advance the cause of gender equity, Kleiner Perkins won the case fair and square.
ALSO IN THE HEADLINES
• Midas men. Forbes‘ “Midas” list of the 100 top venture capitalists is out, and it includes a grand total of 5 women. At No. 10, GGV Capital partner Jenny Lee is the highest-ranking woman on the list. In an interesting bit of timing, two Kleiner Perkins partners, Mary Meeker and Beth Seidenberg, also made the cut.
• Run like a woman. If the latest news is an indication, we may soon see more women running for U.S. Senate. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid has announced plans to retire, and says he favors Catherine Cortez Masto, Nevada’s former attorney general, as his replacement. In California, Democrat Barbara Boxer also is retiring, and attorney general Kamala Harris appears to be the dominant candidate to fill her seat. Finally, Democratic Rep. Tammy Duckworth is expected to announce that she will challenge Senator Mark S. Kirk, a Republican, for President Obama’s former seat in Illinois.
• President Fiorina? Carly Fiorina, former CEO of H-P, says she is more than 90% likely to seek the Republican presidential nomination. Fiorina, who lost a 2010 California Senate bid, is a vocal critic of Democratic contender Hillary Clinton.
• Everyone’s a critic. When professional women go on TV to provide commentary or talk about their work, a surprising number of them end up hearing from audience members about their looks or perceived fashion flubs.
• Wipe out. Hillary Clinton wiped her email server, permanently deleting all emails, says a GOP-led House committee investigating the 2012 Benghazi attacks. Clinton’s lawyer says it would be pointless to hand over the server, since Clinton already has turned over all work-related emails from her tenure as Secretary of State.
Why Ellen Pao was doomed to lose
Today’s Broadview comes to you from Fortune’s Pattie Sellers.
It may be politically incorrect to say, but it’s true that anyone can sue. And plaintiffs tend to be outliers. Like whistleblowers, gadflies and other disruptors, plaintiffs are usually people who don’t get what they want the way that the rest of us do. So, they sue.
This appears to be the case with Ellen Pao, the onetime junior partner at Kleiner Perkins Caulfield & Byers who sued the venture capital firm for gender discrimination and, with Friday’s verdict, lost her three-year legal battle. I don’t know Pao well, but in 2011 she was on a panel that I moderated. I recall wondering to myself at the time how a woman so reticent and obviously insecure could have advanced so far in fiercely competitive Silicon Valley.
Already I envision angry comments pouring in—which is why I didn’t write about Pao until after the trial ended. But I think my view is worth sharing now, for several reasons: Because I’ve studied and written about women and power for 20 years, because I know Kleiner and many of the firm’s partners, and because the problem that Pao’s lawsuit spotlighted—the lack diversity in the VC industry—is worth ongoing attention.
Ellen Pao was, quite simply, ill-equipped to take on this important issue. She was still at Kleiner when I interviewed her on a panel at a BlogHer conference in Silicon Valley four years ago. My first question was: What is the best personal asset that helps you succeed? The two other panelists, serial entrepreneur Kim Polese and Omnicom EVP Janet Riccio, talked about “galvanizing a team around a mission” and “bringing other women up in the organization,” while Pao’s answer was this: “I’m bad at self-promotion. I like to help people and help entrepreneurs.”
To read the rest of Sellers’ story, click here.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
• Proceed with caution. Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen said interest rates will likely increase this year, but she called for a cautious approach to subsequent bumps. Rather than raising rates in regular increments, the Fed will monitor the latest economic data and pay attention to “special risks,” she says.
• End of an ordeal. The Italian Supreme Court has overturned Amanda Knox’s conviction for the 2007 murder of her roommate Meredith Kercher. The 27-year-old American, who is now living in the Seattle area, would have faced possible extradition if the conviction had been upheld.
• A tech risk-taker. Solina Chau runs Horizons Ventures, a VC fund owned by her longterm companion, Li Ka-shing, who is Asia’s richest man. The firm has invested at least $420 million in more than 80 tech firms, including Facebook, Spotify, and Skype. Chau is known for investing in startups after meeting their founders just once, and for a willingness to gamble on ambitious, but unproven, technologies.
• Plane discrimination. Flight attendant unions published an open letter to the U.S. Travel Association, condemning the trade group’s support for Persian Gulf airlines like Emirates that they say have repressive policies toward women and the LGBT community–including rules that require female employees to obtain permission before getting married or pregnant.
• Family feud. Katsuhisa Otsuka, founder of Japanese furniture retailer Otsuka Kagu, failed to oust his daughter, Kumiko Otsuka, in a shareholder vote. Kumiko, who is the president of the company, won 61% of the vote. The family feud, which originated because Katsuhisa blames his daughter for weak sales and poor leadership, has captivated Japan.
• Must-see TV for babies? Sharon Rechter and husband Guy Oranim are the creators of BabyFirstTV, a new channel that’s aimed at children as young as 6 months. BabyFirst is now making its way into more U.S. homes, after cutting deals with a variety of pay-TV distributors. One rationale for catering to babies? Advertisers spent $1.2 billion on kids channels last year.
Share today’s Broadsheet with a friend:
Important note: We will be sending The Broadsheet from a new address soon. Please add email@example.com to your address book and safe senders list.
ON MY RADAR
|Ignore all hatred and criticism. Live for what you create, and die protecting it.|
| -- Lady Gaga, who celebrated her 29th birthday on Saturday. |