Matt Murphy, the VC who advocated Ellen Pao’s firing, is leaving Kleiner Perkins

Matt Murphy, the venture capitalist who was instrumental in the decision to fire Ellen Pao from Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, is leaving the prestigious firm.

Murphy mentioned his departure during the high-profile sex discrimination trial that concluded last month, in which Pao brought a $16 million lawsuit against Kleiner Perkins for allegedly failing to promote her and firing her in 2012 because of her gender. Pao lost the suit.

Murphy, a key witness for Kleiner, testified during the trial; in his testimony, he mentioned he would soon be leaving Kleiner. Now, that time has come.

Murphy, 48, joined Kleiner Perkins in 1999, and most recently managed the firm’s digital growth fund. He worked on KPCB’s portfolio companies AppDynamics,Datameer, Egnyte, Shazam, shopkick, and many more. He was a board observer at Google — one of Kleiner’s claims to fame is its early investment into Google — and worked at Sun Microsystems before joining venture capital.

Murphy had just the kind of career trajectory at Kleiner that Pao hoped for. He joined as a junior partner, hired to help famed partner John Doerr manage his work, then rose to become a principal and eventually senior partner.

In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Murphy said his decision to leave is “entirely about me and wanting to experience something different in the world of venture.” He will likely join a smaller VC firm.

“I wanted a bit of a change,” Murphy told the Journal.

Without Murphy, Kleiner will have seven senior investors, down from 12 in 2013, the year the firm began downsizing.

In his testimony during the trial, Murphy spoke of Pao’s failure to improve her performance, despite receiving mounds of criticism from senior partners, and her resistance to being a team player and unwillingness to do what was expected of her.

He said in his testimony that Pao fell asleep during a board meeting, which “was really embarrassing.” Instead of apologizing, Pao told Murphy she fell asleep because the meeting “was boring.”

Pao felt protected and maybe even a little bit entitled, Murphy said on the witness stand, and he began meeting with Pao frequently to discuss problems with her performance in late 2011. Murphy then put Pao on a 60-day evaluation period in September 2012, after which he recommended that Pao be terminated. As Pao’s direct superior, it was Murphy who instigated Pao’s firing in October 2012.

Murphy was accused by Pao’s attorney of working with other partners to unfairly sway Pao’s 2011 performance review and of fostering a boys-club culture at the firm. He was also accused of retaliating against Pao for filing the discrimination lawsuit against the firm in May 2012. Four days after she sued, Murphy — who admitted he was not in the habit of making notes about partners — began making very critical notes of Pao’s performance.

Photo courtesy Kleiner Perkins

 

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