Kleiner’s John Doerr Apologizes for Joking About Partners’ Names

John Doerr, a senior partner with Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, speaks during the TechCrunch Disrupt SF 2015 conference in San Francisco on Tuesday
Bloomberg News

Venture capitalist John Doerr has issued a Twitter apology for an “unfortunate joke” he made about two new partners who recently joined him at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers.

“@kimmaicutler Friends, my apologies. It was an unfortunate joke that wasn’t funny. I have deep respect for my partners Swati and Muzzammil,” he posted on Twitter.

The remarks by Mr. Doerr came on stage Tuesday at TechCrunch’s Disrupt event in San Francisco, according to a reporter from the tech blog who took it to Twitter.

Kleiner Perkins’s partner was referring to Muzzammil Zaveri and Swati Mylavarapu, who were hired recently to invest out the firm’s latest early-stage fund. Mr. Zaveri, who was an investor at the Palo Alto, Calif.-arm of the Chinese Internet portal Tencent Inc., is focused on digital consumer and enterprise startups. Ms. Mylavarapu, who worked at Square Inc. and before that on mobile technology in sub-Saharan Africa and India through Google.org, is focused on digital health and consumer startups.

Mr. Doerr’s remarks come as Kleiner Perkin shas been trying to put behind it the gender discrimination and retaliation lawsuit brought by former partner Ellen Pao in which the firm won a jury verdict in March. It is not the first time Mr. Doerr has issued an apology this year.

In an email addressed to “friends and partners” that was viewed by VentureWire in July, Mr. Doerr said “We are sorry you had to go through it [the litigation]. But most of all, we are very sorry it is so hard for women and minorities in the tech and venture industry.”

Speaking at TechCrunch Disrupt, Mr. Doerr said, “We’ve got more we can do, and should do, to get to a 50-50 world where everybody has an opportunity to contribute, make a difference and live better because of that.”

Write to Scott Martin at scott.martin@wsj.com and Deborah Gage at deborah.gage@wsj.com.