Kleiner Perkins and gender discrimination plaintiff wrangle over love poems episode

June 14, 2012

The “Book of Longing”: spiritual screed or salacious smut?

A 2006 tract of love poems by Sixties crooner Leonard Cohen, of all things, has emerged as a key point of contention in the high-profile gender discrimination lawsuit that’s sent Silicon Valley into a tizzy.

When Ellen Pao, a junior partner at vaunted venture¬†capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caulfield & Byers sued the firm last month, one of the juicier nuggets tucked in the complaint described senior partner Randy Komisar’s alleged overtures: On Valentine’s Day in 2007, the suit alleged,¬†Komisar gave Pao a copy of the “Book of Longing” — featuring “many sexual drawings and poems with strong sexual content”¬†— and proceeded to ask her out to dinner while his wife was out of town.

On Wednesday, the VC firm hit back in a 7-page response (attached below) with an age-old defense: Pao took it the wrong way.

Komisar only gave Pao the Book of Longing after she gave him a book and a Buddha statue as holiday gifts following discussions the two had about Buddhism, Kleiner argued. The firm also said the book was purchased for Pao by Komisar’s wife.

In fact, the company leaped to the book’s defense, claiming there’s nothing inappropriate about it at all — especially given its reception from within, well, polite circles:

“Komisar, a practicing Buddhist, gave Plaintiff a book of poetry written by Leonard Cohen during Cohen’s five-year stay at a Zen monastery. That book was reviewed by the New York Times as “profound” and having “exceptional range”, and was set to music by famed composer Philip Glass, including performances at Stanford University and the Lincoln Center.”

The matter of the intimate dinner invitation, though, went unaddressed in Kleiner’s response.


— @gerryshih

Kleiner filing June 13, 2012:

Kleiner Response Pao

No comments so far

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/