Ellen Pao vs. Kleiner Perkins is (kinda sorta) over

September 12, 2015, 5:39 PM UTC
Photograph by Getty Images

Ellen Pao said on Thursday that she will drop her appeal of the jury verdict that denied her claims of gender discrimination and retaliation against former employer Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, essentially saying that the case had become too expensive to continue. Still unclear are the specific grounds on which Pao planned to appeal as she neither disclosed them in court documents nor shared them when I asked via email.

Also unclear is the status of more than $270,000 in Kleiner Perkins legal costs that Pao was required to repay. In a statement published by Re/Code, Pao wrote “I am now moving on, paying Kleiner Perkins’ legal costs and dropping my appeal.”

But Kleiner Perkins previously said that if Pao were to drop her appeal, it would drop its request for the funds. Kleiner Perkins has not publicly withdrawn that offer, but Pao emailed me the following:

Their lawyer very specifically wrote to us about two weeks ago that, “KP is not interested in a settlement without a non disparagement provision.” The message we took from their definitive statement was that they rescinded their earlier offer. I have not heard that they have re-extended the offer and removed the non disparagement requirement, except from a half dozen reporters; we have yet to hear it from them directly.

There’s a lot to unpack here.

First, I’m not so sure the message Pao received was the message KPCB intended to send. Remember, Pao previously offered to drop her appeal if Kleiner would pay her $2.7 million. So couldn’t the “settlement” KPCB referred to above be in reference to that $2.7 million request, rather than its preexisting offer to waive its fees were Pao to appeal? That seems to make more sense, but we’ll see what eventually happens (KPCB isn’t commenting on the record, beyond saying it’s glad the legal case is behind it).

Second, Pao‘s original employment contract with KPCB is said to have included non-disparagement language. So why would the firm be demanding more, particularly when such a request was not included in its original fee waiver offer? Or is this again specific to an additional settlement potential (i.e., some of that $2.7 million), and related to KPCB’s activities after Pao was no longer employed? Maybe KPCB trying to preempt a possible book deal for Pao?

I followed up with Pao, who directed me to KPCB, which already had said it wasn’t commenting further.

So this is all over. Sort of.

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