Sex and the Valley

Randy Komisar on the State of Women in Venture Capital

A partner at Kleiner Perkins discusses gender heterogeneity.
randy komisar Randy Komisar on the State of Women in Venture Capital

Mr. Komisar.

Sexism in the venture capital industry is insidious, systemic and subtle. Randy Komisar, a partner at Kleiner Perkins, said as much in a July 2010 interview posted on YouTube:

There are not enough women in venture capital today. Venture capital tends to be clubby in the sense that you tend to have confidence and trust and perhaps better communication with people that you feel more like than people you feel less like. And that applies across gender as well.

He continues:

I do think there is a generation of younger venture capitalists that are male that are more comfortable with heterogeneity, including gender heterogeneity, and I also think we do have places like Kleiner Perkins—we have a number of partners who are women partners, probably disproportionate for the industry, who help not just with our relationships with women business people but also to establish the right sensibility inside the partnership. So I think it’s important for venture capital to be more embracing of all heterogeneity, and I think gender heterogeneity is part of that.

How funny to see that Mr. Komisar was one of the people named in Ellen Pao’s lawsuit against Kleiner Perkins:

For Valentine’s Day 2007 Senior Partner Randy Komisar came into Plaintiff’s office and gave her a book entitled “The Book of Longing” by Leonard Cohen, inscribed with a handwritten note from Mr. Komisar to Plaintiff. The book contains many sexual drawings and poems with strong sexual content. At about the same time, Mr. Komisar asked Plaintiff out to a Saturday night dinner, telling Plaintiff that his wife would be out of town. Plaintiff turned down his offer of dinner.

Later, Ms. Pao alleges, Mr. Komisar complained about her “interpersonal skills and interactions with others at KPCB” during her performance review.

Kleiner Perkins has until June 13 to respond to the lawsuit. But if sexy books and Saturday night dinner invitations are really what’s in store for women at the top levels of venture capital, we’re really not sure why any would want to work there.

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