Ellen Pao

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Ellen K. Pao
Residence San Francisco
Nationality American
Alma mater Princeton University (Electrical Engineering, 1991)
Harvard Law School (Juris Doctor, 1994)
Harvard Business School (MBA, 1998)
Occupation Attorney, executive
Spouse(s) Buddy Fletcher (m. 2007)

Ellen K. Pao is an American lawyer and the interim chief executive officer[1] of Internet company Reddit Inc.[2] Pao was previously a junior investing partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, LLC,[3] and a corporate director at Flipboard.[4]

Early life and education[edit]

Pao, along with her two sisters, was born to Chinese immigrant parents. Her father, Young-Ping Pao, was a professor at New York University's Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences. Pao was raised in Maplewood, New Jersey.[2][5][6] She speaks English and Mandarin fluently.[7]

Pao graduated from Princeton University with a bachelor's degree in Electrical Engineering in 1991, Harvard Law School with a juris doctor in 1994,[2] and Harvard Business School with an MBA in 1998.[6]


From 1994 to 1996, Pao worked as a corporate attorney at Cravath, Swaine & Moore. In 1998, Pao worked at WebTV.[8] Pao worked at several companies in Silicon Valley including BEA Systems as Senior Director, Corporate Business Development from 2001 until 2005.[6][9]

In 2005 Pao joined Kleiner Perkins, an established venture capital firm in San Francisco, as technical chief of staff for John Doerr, a senior partner, a job that required degrees in engineering, law, and business, and experience in enterprise software.[6] Her base pay was $220,000 plus substantial bonuses. In 2007 she was appointed a Crown Fellow of the Aspen Institute on the recommendation of Doerr, a trustee.[6][10] Also in 2007, she became a junior investing partner with Ted Schlein as her boss[11][12] but was eventually passed over for a senior partner position. According to Pao, she had the job title of junior partner from her date of hiring[13] and was promised an opportunity to move into an investing role.[14] Doerr, who has expressed awareness of what he considers a gender gap at venture capital firms, mentored Pao, liberally providing feedback, but, in the end, agreed with the other senior partners who had made negative evaluations of her work at the firm. It is Pao's contention, in her suit for gender discrimination, that men with similar profiles were, nevertheless, promoted.[15]

On May 10, 2012, Pao filed a gender discrimination lawsuit against her employer[16] alleging workplace retaliation by a male junior partner resulting from their personal relationship.[17] She continued to work at the firm until October 1 when, according to her, she was terminated[18] and, according to the defendant, was offered a 5-month transition, with pay, to an operating role,[19] but, when she rejected their offer, terminated effective October 31, 2012.[20] Her lawyer said she was fired in retaliation for her lawsuit. The complaint was amended to add that cause of action.[18] The firm said Pao was terminated for performance reasons unrelated to the lawsuit.[6][21][22]

Pao joined Reddit in 2013 and became interim CEO in November 2014 after Yishan Wong resigned.[23]

Gender discrimination lawsuit[edit]

On May 10, 2012, Pao filed a gender discrimination suit against Kleiner Perkins which went to trial in late February 2015.[24][25][26] It was covered by the national media and elicited broad comment regarding the issues raised.[27] The case was live blogged and tweeted constantly, to the point that the constant coverage provided both humorous and serious feedback to lawyers and witnesses.[28] The trial, lasting 24 days, resulted in a winning verdict for Kleiner Perkins.[29]

Following the suit, three Silicon Valley attorneys working in employment law claimed that the number of women coming forward with complaints of gender discrimination had increased, with greater determination from these women to speak up. This has been referred to as the "Pao effect." [30]

Personal life[edit]

Pao was married to Roger Kuo but later divorced.[6] Pao married Buddy Fletcher a few months after she met him at Aspen Institute functions in Aspen during the summer of 2007, after they were both appointed Crown Fellows.[6] Fletcher was a hedge fund manager and philanthropist but his fund is in bankruptcy and he is accused of civil fraud.[31][32][33] Pao and Fletcher have a daughter, Matilda Pao Fletcher.[2][6][34]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Ohanian, Alexis (November 13, 2014). "Reddit Blog: Coming home". blog.reddit -- what's new on reddit. Retrieved November 13, 2014. 
  2. ^ a b c d Streitfeld, David (April 11, 2013). "Ellen Pao, Who Sued Kleiner Perkins, Joins Reddit". The New York Times. 
  3. ^ Elias, Paul. Ellen Pao Lawsuit: Sexual Harassment Case Roils Silicon Valley July 19, 2012 Huffington Post (Associated Press)
  4. ^ "Kleiner Perkins Trial Details Firm's All-Male Ski Trip And Dinner Party". Forbes. 2015-02-25. Retrieved 2015-03-06. 
  5. ^ Primack, Dan (April 11, 2013). "Ellen Pao has landed ... at Reddit". Fortune. 
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i Lashinsky, Adam; Benner, Katie (October 25, 2012). "A tale of money, sex and power: The Ellen Pao and Buddy Fletcher affair". Fortune Magazine. Retrieved October 26, 2012. 
  7. ^ Weise, Elizabeth (March 17, 2015). "Ellen Pao trial is big news in China". USA Today. 
  8. ^ "Ellen Pao Takes the Stand in Her Suit Against Kleiner Perkins". Re/code. March 9, 2015. 
  9. ^ "Ellen Pao". crunchbase.com. 
  10. ^ "Aspen Institute Names Emerging Leaders As 2007 Henry Crown Fellows". The Aspen Institute. Retrieved 2007-06-14. 
  11. ^ "A Who’s Who of the Ellen Pao-Kleiner Perkins Trial". Re/code. March 23, 2015. 
  12. ^ 2nd and 3rd entries (at bottom)"Liveblog: Day Two of Ellen Pao on the Stand" Re/code. March 10, 2015.
  13. ^ 7th allegation, page 4 Complaint of Pao
  14. ^ "Ellen Pao: ‘I Wanted to Make Sure My Story Was Told’" March 10, 2015 Re/code accessed March 12, 2015
  15. ^ Helen Huet (March 4, 2015). "Kleiner Perkins's John Doerr And Ellen Pao: A Mentorship Sours". Forbes. Retrieved March 6, 2015. Mr. Schlein and all the other digital partners felt that way, except me. I saw it differently. 
  16. ^ "Kleiner gender discrimination suit". Reuters. May 22, 2012. Retrieved May 24, 2012. 
  17. ^ David Streitfeld (March 5, 2015). "In Ellen Pao’s Suit vs. Kleiner Perkins, World of Venture Capital Is Under Microscope". The New York Times. Retrieved March 6, 2015. 
  18. ^ a b Complaint of Ellen Pao
  19. ^ "Liveblog: Day Four of Ellen Pao on the Stand" March 12, 2015 Re/code accessed March 12, 2015
  20. ^ Section D page 6 Trial brief Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers
  21. ^ Thomas, Owen (October 3, 2012). "Ellen Pao's Lawyer: Kleiner Perkins Just Fired Her—And We're Filing A Wrongful-Termination Complaint". The San Francsico Chronicle. Retrieved October 4, 2012. Because of longstanding 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. 
  22. ^ Gage, Deborah (October 3, 2012). "Ellen Pao Leaving Kleiner Perkins, Remains on Payroll". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved October 4, 2012. 
  23. ^ Altman, Sam. "A new team at reddit". Sam Altman. Retrieved November 13, 2014. 
  24. ^ Terry Collins, Nick Statt, and Ian Sherr (March 27, 2015). "In Final Verdict, Jury Rules Against Pao On All Four Claims In Ellen Pao Vs. Kleiner Perkins". TechCrunch. Retrieved March 27, 2015. 
  25. ^ David Streitfeld (March 27, 2015). "Ellen Pao Loses Silicon Valley Bias Case Against Kleiner Perkins". The New York Times. Retrieved March 27, 2015. 
  26. ^ Liz Gannes (February 24, 2015). "Venture Capitalist Trae Vassallo to Testify She Was Harassed by Same Partner as Ellen Pao". Re/code. Retrieved March 7, 2015. 
  27. ^ Claire Cain Miller (March 6, 2015). "A Racy Silicon Valley Lawsuit, and More Subtle Questions About Sex Discrimination" (UPSHOT BLOG). The New York Times. Retrieved March 7, 2015. the real drama is in the more mundane charges, about slights familiar to any woman in any workplace that are rarely aired in public, much less in a courtroom. 
  28. ^ Nellie Bowles and Liz Gannes (March 26, 2015). "Lawyers Reading Mean Tweets: How the Media Influenced the Ellen Pao Trial". Re/code. Retrieved March 26, 2015. In this historic and high profile case, the media coverage has had a strangely powerful influence on the court proceedings. Though the jury may have to live in a self-imposed media-free vacuum, the judge, lawyers and witnesses do not. They’re glued to the press. Trials do not often get this much attention. The lawyers follow each story carefully. 
  29. ^ David Streitfeld (March 27, 2015). "Ellen Pao Loses Silicon Valley Gender Bias Case Against Kleiner Perkins". The New York Times. Retrieved March 27, 2015. One of Silicon Valley’s most famous venture capital firms prevailed on Friday over a former partner in a closely watched suit claiming gender discrimination, but hardly got away unscathed. 
  30. ^ Giang, Vivian. "Silicon Valley attorneys: Already seeing a 'Pao effect'". 
  31. ^ "Case builds against former NY hedgie ‘Buddy’ Fletcher". New York Post. May 18, 2004. 
  32. ^ Rimer, Sara (2004-05-18). "$50 Million Gift Aims to Further Legacy of Brown Case". The New York Times. The New York Times Company. Retrieved 2013-04-29. 
  33. ^ Andrews, Suzanna (March 1, 2013). "Sex, Lies, and Lawsuits". Vanity Fair. 
  34. ^ Bradley, Richard (February 28, 2012). "Buddy Fletcher: Financial Genius — or a Fake?". Boston Magazine. Retrieved April 22, 2014. 

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