Show an ad over header. AMP

I am the FIRST

Carta's former marketing VP sues over alleged gender discrimination

Carta, an equity management "unicorn," on Friday held an all-staff meeting in which CEO Henry Ward addressed a gender discrimination and retaliation lawsuit brought by the company's former VP of marketing, Axios has learned from several sources.

Why it matters: The company, which recently was valued at $3.3 billion, has generated attention for its reports on gender disparities in equity ownership —often the primary source of wealth creation for startup employees.


Details: The lawsuit was brought by Emily Kramer, who was at Carta between February 2018 and November 2019.

  • Kramer alleges she was underpaid (per an employee comp audit), improperly passed over for promotion, and excluded from meetings after complaining about such issues as Carta's all-male board. She also claims Ward, her direct supervisor, effectively forced her to quit, after a meeting in which he allegedly called her an "asshole," said "no one likes you," and that she'd gotten "passes" for being a woman.
  • Axios has learned that at least one other former female Carta employee, who worked in a different department and did not directly report to Ward, is also considering a lawsuit.
  • Kramer and her lawyer declined to comment on whether she had attempted to settle with the company prior to filing suit.

Ward, during Friday's meeting, talked at length about his working relationship with Kramer.

  • A source says Ward acknowledged using the term "asshole," but said it was in the context of providing mentorship — sharing feedback from others at the company who had worked with Kramer. The source also said that Kramer "worked very well vertically," (i.e., with Ward), but needed to improve her horizontal work in order to achieve her goal of becoming a CMO at Carta or elsewhere.
  • We were unable to learn what, if anything, Ward said about Kramer's compensation claims (she did get a raise and much more equity following the audit, but neither was retroactive).

Axios also has learned that Carta seriously considered adding former True Religion CEO Chelsea Grayson to its board of directors — after Ward pledged to add a female director in 2018 — but ultimately didn't.

  • Ward didn't return requests for comment. A Carta spokesperson said that Carta is working on a statement, but it wouldn't be ready by the time this piece published.

The bottom line: Carta plays a major role in the startup ecosystem, managing employee equity and developing a private company stock exchange (for which it quietly acqui-hired Australia' MarketGrid Systems).

  • Kramer may have a tough time proving her case, but Carta stands to lose the PR battle even if it wins the legal one (shades of Pao v. Kleiner Perkins).

4 ffp

Why the startup world needs to ditch "unicorns" for "dragons"

When Aileen Lee originally coined the term "unicorn" in late 2013, she was describing the 39 "U.S.-based software companies started since 2003 and valued at over $1 billion by public or private market investors."

Flashback: It got redefined in early 2015 by yours truly and Erin Griffith, in a cover story for Fortune, as any privately-held startup valued at $1 billion or more. At the time, we counted 80 of them.

Keep reading... Show less

Scoop: Facebook's new moves to lower News Feed's political volume

Facebook plans to announce that it will de-emphasize political posts and current events content in the News Feed based on negative user feedback, Axios has learned. It also plans to expand tests to limit the amount of political content that people see in their News Feeds to more countries outside of the U.S.

Why it matters: The changes could reduce traffic to some news publishers, particularly companies that post a lot of political content.

Keep reading... Show less

Scoop: Amazon quietly getting into live audio business

Amazon is investing heavily in a new live audio feature that's similar to other live audio offerings like Clubhouse, Twitter Spaces and Spotify's new live audio platform, sources tell Axios.

Why it matters: As with Amazon's efforts in podcasting and music subscriptions, the company sees live audio as a way to bolster the types of content it can offer through its voice assistant, Alexa, and its smart speaker products.

Keep reading... Show less

Hurricane Ida exposes America's precarious energy infrastructure

The powerful hurricane that plunged New Orleans into darkness for what could be weeks is the latest sign that U.S. power systems are not ready for a warmer, more volatile world.

The big picture: “Our current infrastructure is not adequate when it comes to these kinds of weather extremes,” Joshua Rhodes, a University of Texas energy expert, tells Axios.

Keep reading... Show less

"We must go further": 70% of adults in European Union are fully vaccinated

About 70% of adults in the European Union are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission, said Tuesday.

Why it matters: The milestone makes the E.U. one of the world's leaders in inoculations, after an initially lagging vaccine campaign, the New York Times notes.

Keep reading... Show less

What Elizabeth Holmes jurors will be asked ahead of fraud trial

Jury selection begins today in USA v. Elizabeth Holmes, with the actual jury trial to get underway on Sept. 8.

Why it matters: Theranos was the biggest fraud in Silicon Valley history, putting both hundreds of millions of dollars and thousands of patients' health at risk.

Keep reading... Show less

Insights

mail-copy

Get Goodhumans in your inbox

Most Read

More Stories