In case you missed these big headlines, here’s what happened in tech this week.
By Betsy Mikel (Editor, Women 2.0)
“Women in tech” has been a hot headline topic this week, to say the least. If you’ve been off the grid or too busy working a 100+ hour week for your next big launch, here’s what everyone in tech — and we mean everyone, not just women — is talking about this week.
Morgan Stanley’s Ruth Porat to Join Google as CFO
Google’s Chief Financial Officer Patrick Pichette publicly announced his retirement on March 10, leaving much speculation about who would fill his shoes. (We even speculated ourselves! Check out our list of top tech CFOs.) Earlier this week, Google announced his replacement.
Ruth Porat will step into her role as Google CFO on May 26. Dubbed “the most powerful woman on Wall Street” by Forbes, Porat has been with Morgan Stanley since 1987. Most recently she’s been the Morgan Stanley CFO, and previously she held a variety of roles with the company including Vice Chairman of Investment Banking, Global Head of the Financial Institutions Group and and co-Head of Technology Investment Banking.
Porat grew up in the Bay Area and attended Stanford, where she serves on the university’s Board of Trustees. She was the been the lead banker on several tech IPOs, including Amazon, eBay, Netscape and Priceline, according to Forbes.
Northwestern Mutual Acquires LearnVest for a Rumored $250 Million
Alexa von Tobel dropped out of Harvard Business School just after the economy crashed and launched LearnVest in 2009. Initially targeted towards women, the company now offers a wide range of online tools that help all users improve their financial literacy and better manage their money — budgeting, financial planning, investing and more.
She put in $75,000 of her own money to get started. Turned out to be a great investment. To date, LearnVest has raised a little over $70 million in venture capital funding. And now the news is out that LearnVest is selling to financial services company Northwestern Mutual for a rumored $250 million, according to Fortune. When the startup closed its $28 million Series D round of funding in 2014, Northwestern Mutual was one of the investors. Inc.com reported that LearnVest will operate as an independent subsidiary of Northwestern Mutual, and von Tobel will continue to operate at the company’s CEO.
The Jury’s Still out on Ellen Pao v. Kleiner Perkins
Pao joined Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers as a junior investing partner in 2005. In 2012, she filed a gender discrimination lawsuit against the firm and was terminated from the company a few months later. Pao is suing on four counts on both discrimination and retaliation. Here’s how Re/Code broke it down:
1. Kleiner Perkins discriminated against Pao based on gender
2. Kleiner Perkins retaliated against her after she complained
3. Kleiner Perkins failed to take all reasonable steps to prevent that discrimination (she can only win this one if she’s already won number 1)
4. Kleiner Perkins retaliated by firing her
She’s suing the venture capital firm for $16 million in damages, and closing arguments were yesterday. Now it’s up to the jury to decide.
Pao is currently the interim CEO of Reddit, so this is definitely a high-profile case. It’s opened up many conversations about the boys’ club nature of venture capital. We did not attend the trial, so we direct you to these pieces to learn more about the nitty gritty details about how everything is unfolding:
- Gender In Tech: No Longer A Silent Issue
- Sexism in Silicon Valley: in the courtroom at Ellen Pao v. Kleiner Perkins by Nitasha Tiku at The Verge
- FAQ: What Happens Now in the Ellen Pao/Kleiner Perkins Trial? by Liz Gannes and Nellie Bowles at Re/Code
- Mansplaining the Ellen Pao trial & fixing the gender issue in venture capital by Jason Calacanis
- Ellen Pao trial ends on plea for gender equality in the tech industry by Terry Collins
About the author: Betsy Mikel is the managing editor of Women 2.0 and runs the content consultancy Aveck. She has a degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and a lifelong obsession with French language and culture. When she's not biking all over every city she visits to find its best taqueria, you can find Betsy on Twitter at @betsym.