Zero Sum Trial & Writing an New Playbook

While the jury deliberates, much has already been made of the watershed potential for the Ellen Pao v. Kleiner Perkins case in juris prudence and in the entrepreneurial community.

Pao was required to prove actual malice in the processes that led to her eventual firing from the flagship West Coast firm. “Actual malice” is legalese for the intention to harm, in this case, denying Pao professional headway based on her gender.

Even without a verdict, there are damages already exacted.

The whole mess of now-disclosed stuff and the realtime coverage seems like a dogpile—the vicious, bite-anything-that-moves kind that seems to inspire more bloodletting. Since the trial started in late February, Pao’s motives and suitedness to investing have been openly questioned as much as have the operations at Kleiner Perkins. The firm’s reputation is taking a thumping. Fortune has enough details on the trial to date to make anyone’s blood boil, and TechCrunch summarized the defense’s final week, too.

Un-seeing, un-reading or un-watching the unfolding of this slow motion train-wreck has proven difficult, though the tropes aren’t new news. Systematic reprisals, sexual harassment, laissez-faire HR, and rampant sh*t talking read like reinforcements of all the bad things I heard about the industry. It makes me want to puke that this stuff was allegedly happening at a firm beatified as a leader in promoting women.

The zero-sum narrative of venture capital seems to be alive and well in the courtroom and in the public consciousness…

Read my full article on Exit Event.