My thoughts on the Ellen Pao book – reset

Pick up your copy here –

Wow. I wonder if some of what transpired in this book lead to the whole breakup of Kleiner in any way. I have lost a lot of respect for them as a firm but I also wonder how many firms also act or operate like this. My bet is many more than people think.

Although Ellen may have lost her case I would argue that this whole movement was partially kicked off by her case and the work she is doing with Project Include will ensure that real change will happen.

I loved the book and was great to get her account of what she experienced since none of that really came out during the trial – it shows you how a trial is all about the legality of stuff and the truth is elusive. It is such a disappointment to know how some of these high power people operate and how even the women will turn when money is involved. Sad.

With the book behind me, I am back to trying to see what I can do personally to make a difference. It isn’t easy – on one hand people could just start being decent and guys could start by being normal and inclusive. So in some sense back to just being fair and equal but part of me thinks that it is too late for that. If you look around you will generally see that things are not equal – the business world is heavily slanted to men in many respects.

Given this my view is that I cannot just strive for equality, I need to try and compensate to make a difference. I have to be conscious of my own bias and do what I can to make a better environment for all the females around me in my life and work. Why – because for too long there has not been enough fairness or equality so now we are coming from behind. Only way to fix it is make up for lost time and the fact that most environments whether intentional or not are normally not equal footing for females.

I see this everyday with my girls – the bias that boys have for what a girl can do and what a girl cannot do. My son does it all the time without thinking much about it and I constantly have to remind him that apart from basic anatomy – girls can do what boys can do. Stop putting them in a box. One can easily see that is starts with young boys and if you don’t correct them it won’t change. Back to my premise – we as adults need to over emphasize in all situations to make sure the world is better for everyone. My belief is that the world is largely messed up because men have been dominating it for far too long.

Now let me leave you with my own story about one of the people in the book.

Back when I worked at Weblogic there was period of time that we were trying to raise some money. That period happened to coincide with KPCB launching their storied Java Fund –

WebLogic had practically invented the enterprise Java market for Java on the server so of course KPCB called us and we had numerous meetings. The gist of it ended with a certain partner, the fund manager, telling us that Java was not meant for the server and that the enterprise market would never give up their old school C to play with Java. Okay. Now Sun was partially to blame for this since they were involved with the fund, had their own competing technology but they also showed off Java initially as a GUI while shipping stuff that was slow on the server. This is stuff WebLogic had fixed but it took some time for the enterprise to get the drift.

Anyways – WebLogic ended up raising money and went on to sell to BEA and later BEA sold to Oracle for close to 10B. I think the WebLogic exit made more money than the entire Java Fund did but who is counting.

Post the BEA acquisition during one of the Java World conferences, I happened to be manning the booth since we were expecting Bill Janeway to stop by. Let me quote something from his wiki page:

In 1992, the firm funded the launch of OpenVision Technologies, which subsequently merged with VERITAS Software in 1996. In 1999, Warburg Pincus also was the founder and sole investor in BEA Systems. Warburg Pincus eventually distributed its positions in both companies to its limited partners, realizing total returns of $750 million in VERITAS shares and $6.5 billion in BEA shares on investments in each of approximately $50 million.

50m to 6.5B.

Bill made a lot of cash from BEA which was partially because of the WebLogic product line.

Bill did cruise by and we had met many times before so we instantly started chatting but I was actually more interested in who was tagging a long with him – none other than Ted Schlein. Bill introduced us and asked if the Java Fund happened to look at WebLogic. Ted said he didn’t recall digging into it but of course I had to interject to say that yes we had met since I was the one doing the demos and that Ted had passed declaring Java dead on the server. I also went on to say that the one WebLogic deal probably would have done better than the entirety of the Java Fund portfolio. Bill had a good laugh about it but Ted didn’t look too amused.

That was my first taste of VC.

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