The ugly history of Reddit CEO Ellen Pao and her husband Buddy Fletcher
Reddit CEO Ellen Pao oversees a site that claims to support free speech, but allows -- or encourages -- its users and user-selected controllers of subforums, or "mods," to remove controversial data. It remains unclear whether Pao ordered this herself because, as with all things Reddit, communication is anonymized and private.
Nonetheless, Redditors have noticed that threads and users have been disappearing when they discuss Pao, her multiple anti-discrimination lawsuits, or her husband Buddy Fletcher and his economic and criminal troubles. Evidence suggests that Pao is short on cash as is her husband and that they are trying to raise cash by suing her former employers, using the (circular) reasoning that because Pao did not succeed, the cause was discrimination, and thus the solution is to pay the couple a fat sum -- despite the arguable ethical problems of doing so, given a past history of criminal behavior by Buddy Fletcher.
For the convenience of Redditors, I present some of the public evidence against Fletcher and Pao:
While Fletcher owns three apartments in Manhattan’s exclusive Central Park West Dakota co-op, an $8.85 million self-described castle in Connecticut’s tony Litchfield County, and, with his wife Ellen Pao, a $1.5 million San Francisco home, the ex-hedgie stands accused of cheating Massachusetts and Louisiana cops and firefighters out of more than $100 million and not paying close to $3 million in taxes. - New York Post
New York investment manager Alphonse “Buddy” Fletcher Jr. is being sued by the MBTA Retirement Fund and some of his own hedge funds on accusations that he defrauded them of more than $50 million.
The lawsuit, filed Monday in New York, accuses Fletcher and his firm, Fletcher Asset Management , and other parties of conducting a “long-running fraud” in which they misused money for their own benefit, inappropriately took inflated management fees, and overstated the value of assets. - The Boston Globe
During the last two years, Fletcher and Pao have become embroiled in bitter and sensational conflicts that have been the talk of Wall Street and Silicon Valley. In February 2011, to the shock and titillation of New York society, Fletcher sued the co-op board of the Dakota, the iconic 129-year-old apartment building on Manhattan’s Upper West Side whose famous residents have included Yoko Ono, Lauren Bacall, and Leonard Bernstein, and where John Lennon was shot to death in 1980. Furious when the Dakota’s board denied his application to buy his fourth apartment in the building, a $5.7 million two-bedroom, Fletcher sued the board for racial discrimination. In his complaint, Fletcher painted the Dakota, one of the city’s most exclusive co-ops, as a hive of bigotry, where victims were said to include the singer Roberta Flack and the actor Antonio Banderas.
A little more than a year later, in May 2012, Ellen Pao dropped her own bombshell lawsuit, alleging that she had been the victim of sexual discrimination by Kleiner Perkins. Her exhaustively detailed, sometimes lurid allegations roiled Silicon Valley. There was inter-office sex, steamy advances from senior partners, client dinners to which only men were invited, because, according to Pao, one partner told her women “kill the buzz.” Equally shocking to many was Pao’s claim that she had complained repeatedly to Kleiner’s management, including to John Doerr, a senior partner and the much-respected dean of the Valley, and that she had been ignored. - Vanity Fair
Fletcher is the husband of Ellen Pao, the former junior partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers whose gender discrimination lawsuit against the Silicon Valley venture capital firm is on trial in San Francisco state court.
The U.S. trustee in charge of liquidating Fletcher International Ltd. said in 2013 that Fletcher’s company was a fraud that didn’t make a single profitable investment after Aug. 31, 2007. According to the trustee, Fletcher funnelled money out of the fund before it went bankrupt with the intent to defraud investors. - Bloomberg Business
Fletcher moved to Wall Street after graduation, excelling at equities trading at Bear Stearns, then Kidder Peabody. He quit Kidder in 1991, dissatisfied with his bonus, and set up his own firm, Fletcher Asset Management. He also sued Kidder for racial discrimination, alleging that the firm decided that the amount he was owed “was simply too much money to pay a young black man.” An arbitration panel dismissed the racism charge but ordered Kidder to pay Fletcher an additional $1.3 million in bonus money.
[...]A Feb. 27 affidavit by a Fletcher employee revealed that the FIA Leveraged Fund hadn’t filed an audited financial report since 2008, and that Fletcher’s main fund hadn’t filed audited financials since 2009. What’s more, Fletcher attempted to repay the Louisiana pension funds in a manner reminiscent of his Calgene maneuver with Harvard years earlier. Instead of cash, Fletcher offered the pension funds warrants to buy shares in United Community Bank, according to court documents. - Fortune
What kind of financial straits was her family in when Pao filed this lawsuit? Bad ones.
When Pao filed her suit in 2012, her husband was having considerable financial difficulty. Kleiner wants to now submit evidence of a tax lien sent to Kleiner for Pao’s partnership interest, and bankruptcy filings of her family, including her husband. They want to say that because her husband’s hedge fund was doing poorly, her family needed money. Pao’s husband is a bit of a controversial figure, as you may have read in the long Vanity Fair profile of them. He also has a history of being litigious. - Recode
If any of the rest of us acted like this, we would end up in jail. Pao and Fletcher must have powerful friends, including those who got her hired at Reddit. Then again, it looks like she may have been hired specifically to crack down on discriminatory voices, apparently starting with those critical of herself.