Venture capitalist: Our firm is diverse because it's a 'challenge' to pronounce employees' names

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Diversity is one of the hottest issues in tech today, and in venture capital—which has well-documented diversity problems—executives have been particularly bad at supporting a more inclusive workforce.


That explains why lots of people are mad at John Doerr, a well-known venture capitalist and a partner at Kleiner Perkins Caulfield & Byers, for bragging about his firm's diversity record by saying that the firm has "two new partners who are so diverse that I have a challenge pronouncing their names."

Made at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference today, Doerr's remarks immediately set off a firestorm of Twitter criticism:


The issue isn't just that Doerr's comments were tin-eared. It's that Doerr was a central figure in the Ellen Pao case, which involved allegations that KPCB had engaged in systematic gender discrimination against Pao, a former partner. Though Pao ultimately lost the case, it emerged that Pao accused Doerr of saying she had a "female chip on her shoulder." After the trial, KPCB released a diversity report, which was criticized for not including information about ethnic diversity among the firm's employees.


We've reached out to Kleiner Perkins for comment, and will update if we hear back.


Doerr apologized on Twitter:


Michael Rosen is a reporter for Fusion based out of Oakland.