THE HUNTING GROUND exposes how Silicon Valley Elite families order colleges to cover-up Frat House rapes.


THE HUNTING GROUND tackles sexual assault on college campuses, institutional cover-ups and the rise of a new student movement. Weaving together verité footage and first-person testimonies, THE HUNTING GROUND follows survivors as they pursue their education while fighting for justice — despite harsh retaliation, endless harassment and pushback at every level.

THE HUNTING GROUND is written and directed by Kirby Dick and produced by Amy Ziering. It features the original song “Til It Happens To You” written by Diane Warren and Lady Gaga, performed by Lady Gaga.

Kleiner Perkins and the Rape Culture of Silicon Valley

Much has been written about Silicon Valley’s “Rape Culture” but what does that term mean?

It refers to rich white men who were raised to believe that they had special social privileges because their parents, and fraternity houses, trained them to think that they existed in order to use others to meet their needs for pleasure, power and money.

This concept of “White Elitist Privilege” is a passed-on concept of land-owner and factory-owner control created in the feudal times of old Europe.

The people who owned the land, and resources, acquired by organized European murder fests called: “land wars”; created a mythos which sought to trick those who did not own those things into thinking that the rich owners had special powers, or special wisdom, due to some magic in their “blood-lines”.

In fact, due the the rape of servants, cousins, townspeople and siblings, almost no “blood-lines” remained pure for long in the “nobility”.

One might suggest that, “if the townspeople were stupid enough to believe that some guy named Smith had super-powers because he was named Smith, then they deserved all of the use-and abuse that they were subjected to”. This would be a Machiavellian, and harsh, assumption about people who were, essentially, brainwashed, from birth, to believe that the feudal Lord was better than them. As the CIA, and Google, have proven, it only takes a month of repetitive information iteration to brainwash the political, social or moral beliefs of any population.

In Silicon Valley the Joe Lonsdale rape case, the Ellen Pao Sex abuse case, The Ravi Kumar and Forrest Hayes Sex murder cases, The Stanford Frat house rape cover-ups, the Intern sex abuse scandals, The Stanford Professor’s Sex scandals, The Silicon Valley Hooker parties, The Rosewood Hotel Thursday Night Sex Pick-up parties and hundreds of other twisted perversions, which involve a Silicon Valley VC, or Tech exec, abusing a lower income person are flowing like water down the tainted white water rapids of technology deviancy.

While being an intern, Stanford co-ed, or blonde divorcée, in Palo Alto, pretty much guarantees that you will face a gauntlet of high-tech date rape drugs, extortion, moral compromise and VC sexual exploitation, the rapes and social abuse do not end with the sex. All of the fraternity houses that the Silicon Valley VC’s came from have now been charged with “rape factory” abuses. These men were raised as, and trained as, abusive animals, on every level.

BUT, Imagine having your brain raped!

The VC’s buy the politicians, tax investigators, SEC officers and law enforcement agents that are supposed to stop them from doing their crimes.

These VC’s have paid billions of dollars to Presidential, Senate, Gubernatorial, Attorney General and Mayoral campaigns, as bribes, in order to buy their way out of any law enforcement attention. The FBI should be stringing them up, but…for some special reason: they don’t. This is the rape of America’s political system. It is a rape of the public trust of over 300 million citizens. Their bribes, to allow over a trillion of their tax dollars to be hidden overseas, rapes our schools of our teachers and rapes our streets of pot-hole repair. Are your local services being cut? Thank John Doerr and Eric Schmidt.

The Silicon Valley VC’s have also formed a Mafia-like Cartel. This dark and spooky men’s club came from the Skull and Bones, Bohemian Club concept of Omerta secrecy rich boys who sought to control things by only doing business with each other in order to commercialize the commercialization of monopoly creation. They do everything you saw in the Francis Ford Coppola “Godfather” movies except they wear more khaki and drive Tesla’s instead of Cadillacs.

There is no other region, in all of America, which holds the title of misogyny, prostitution and sexual extortion capital of the nation. This fact is proven by the tens of thousands of articles, and complaints published about Silicon Valley’s abuses; and about no other city in The Nation.

Ever since HP created Sandhill road, the Cartel was just white boys. Because those white boys made their profits out of flying clever, cheap Indians over from India, getting their ideas, then shipping them back to India, before they could make any stock claims, a few Indian VC’s created a sub-Cartel. While they tried to play off their cultural “robes and temples” crunchy granola marketing, few missed the reality that India is the organized rape capital of the world. The Indian VC’s turned out to rape even more that the White Frat Boy VC’s.

The brains of the Silicon Valley rapist VC’s have one big problem…

They have had decades of programming and training to run spreadsheets out to the smallest decimal point but they can’t invent a good, creative, idea to save their souls. They are financial experts and ideation idiots.

To get the things that their Cartel wants to exploit, they usually steal their ideas. They rape the brains of others, often without paying for it.

They invite the idea people in for a chat, under the guise and pretense of: “we are thinking about investing in your idea..” In most cases, this come-on line is total horsesh*t.

They are inviting you in to get you to give them a free data dump, your “pitch meeting” at their offices is their fishing expedition to see what they want to steal from you.

The odds are small that you will be wearing the IZOD shirt, khaki pants, short greased haircut and have the perfectly symmetrical square jawed Aryan look that the VC’s have. They will hate you the moment they see you. You have been excluded from their club the second you walked through their door. You don’t have the look. You didn’t pass the ivy league “one-of-us” sniff test.

But you still have some power, you have the idea and the technology…for the last few minutes before you open your mouth.

They will say: “…now; we are all friends here. Tell us everything. We don’t sign non-disclosure agreements but we won’t steal your idea..ha, ha.. if we stole ideas, how could we still be in business.. ha, ha..”

You just bent over and spread your cheeks for them.

They will, then, listen carefully to your idea, take notes, argue a few points to try to get you to do more of their homework and then thank you and tell you they will “discuss it internally”, which means they will immediately start organizing a thieving party if your idea had any interest for them.

All of the VC’s on SandHill road, in Palo Alto, know each other and conspire and collude together, as proven in the “AngelGate”, “No Poaching”, “The Chieky Attack”,“Sony Hack”, “HSBC Hack” and other scandals.

One VC steals the idea and passes it to another to copy it, rename it and launch it via one of their friends. YouTube, Google, Facebook, Ebay and many other famous companies were created this way. That is why the VC’s poured billions into trying to bribe Congress to overthrow the patent laws. The VC’s live in fear of paying the creators they stole from.

When they see a great idea that they want to steal, they hire their buddies at Wired, Tech Crunch, Gawker Media or Hearst Publications to write a hatchet job article, or series of blog postings that defame and character assassinate you, while denigrating your technology and saying that it is impossible for your technology to work. They do this to prevent any possibility of non-Cartel VC’s from their Silicon Valley Cartel or the NVCA (essentially the same thing) from funding you and competing with their theft scheme.

Ironically, their total clone copycat version of your technology, that they deliver, works fine. Even though they said, in their slam articles, that it was impossible for it to work.

So they raped you, thieved you, used you and shut you down. Isn’t Silicon Valley lovely?

In the Klieiner Perkins sex abuse law suit, the Tom Perkins “Nazi Scandal”, The Ray Lane tax evasion investigation, Kleiner’s Vinohd Khosla beach lawsuit, the Steven Chu Cleantech Crash and Solyndra crimes, AngelGate, The Eric Schmidt Sex Penthouse and White House manipulation investigation, The In-Q-Tel funds and an army of other scandals; one thing is clear: Silicon Valley VC’s have no respect for morality or the law.

Voters must demand that the state and federal government bring crushing investigations, and penalties, to these VC’s and tech responsibility-dodgers because their crimes affect every single citizen.

The Stanford University Sex Scandals. Privilege has it’s perverts!

The Joe Lonsdale Venture Capital Rape Scandal

The Sandhill Road VC intern sex for career status Scandals

The Social Network Sorority “Bang Buses” that deliver coe-ed girls to frat houses like a pizza delivery

The “Rape Factory” culture and cover-ups of Stanford’s fraternity row

Why do all the VC’s come from Stanford and get divorces with “abuse” charges in the filings?

Standford alumni fly more hookers into Silicon Valley than any other city in America

Multiple Stanford-ites murdered by hookers-per-hour-with

Spinsters off-shoot turns out to be high-end prostitution operation

Which business school had the most cheaters on Ashley Madison?: STANFORD!

What really happens on a nooner at the Rosewood Hotel on Sandhill Road?

The 30 square miles around Stanford University are rated as the most misogynistic region in the nation. Ellen Pao and Newsweek disclose how women are treated as “sex toys and baby ovens for rich frat boys”.

This epic investigation of a typical Stanford scandal has the world glued to their screens:

Stanford Confidential: Sex, Lies and Loathing At The World’s No. 1 Business School


Stanford Confidential: Sex, Lies And Loathing At The World’s No. 1 B-School

by Ethan Baron on September 14, 2015

Stanford Graduate School of Business Dean Garth Saloner on campus

“Knife. Penis. Town square. Got it.”

Those six words don’t yet mean anything to the 400 MBAs-to-be of storied Stanford Graduate School of Business’s incoming class who rightly believe they have grasped a platinum ticket to the top. But that will change fast as they struggle to understand why Garth Saloner stepped down today as dean of what is widely regarded as the best business school in the world.

In a statement Saloner said: “As many of you know, the university and I have been vigorously defending a baseless and protracted lawsuit related to a contentious divorce between a current and former member of our faculty.  I have become increasingly concerned that the ongoing litigation and growing media interest will distract all of you from the important work that you are doing and unfairly impact this stellar school’s deserved reputation.”

He was referring to a wrongful termination suit filed by a fired B-school professor who is in the process of getting divorced from another B-school professor with whom Saloner has been having an affair.

Poets&Quants had asked Saloner on Wednesday of last week for an interview about the allegations, and followed up with a detailed list of questions to the university about the case on Thursday, Sept. 10. Saloner apparently made his decision to resign after declining a request for an interview and viewing the questions related to claims in the lawsuit. Stanford says Saloner will leave the deanship next summer, then resume teaching and research duties as a professor at the Graduate School of Business (GSB).


Court records in the lawsuit, a letter from staffers to the university, and police investigations suggest that beneath the gilded image of America’s top-ranked business school lies a troubled culture, possible discrimination against women and older employees and a staff revolt over Saloner’s “increasingly brazen” behavior – all happening as Stanford has turned a blind eye.

Stanford GSB Dean Garth Saloner and professor Deborah Gruenfeld – Daily Mail photo

The professor with whom Saloner embarked on an affair, Deborah Gruenfeld, is a board member of LeanIn.org, the group started by Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg to offer women “inspiration and support.” In an email exchange revealed in the lawsuit, Saloner advises the professor not to approach her divorce “too much” as a woman.

The professor’s husband, also a professor at the B-school when the affair began, has been fired and now teaches full-time at Apple University, the tech giant’s internal training facility.


Details of the court dispute could be especially damaging to Stanford’s business school since they include allegations of professional and financial retribution against Gruenfeld’s husband, Jim Phills, contempt for school rules and policies, and claims that the Graduate School of Business (GSB) is a hostile workplace riven by “personal agendas, favoritism, and fear.”

The lawsuit is only the latest in a series of scandals to besmirch the rise of what is now widely considered to be the world’s top business school. This year, Stanford nudged aside Harvard Business School and Wharton for the undisputed No. 1 spot in the U.S. News rankings.  And just last week, Forbes proclaimed Stanford No. 1 for the second consecutive time.

From the outside, the GSB appears an ideal and idyllic training ground for young capitalists. Palm fronds rustle in the gentle Silicon Valley breezes, three Nobel laureates sit on the faculty, and the exit routes are paved with gold: Forbes noted that Stanford grads five years out are pulling down total annual compensation of $255,000 a year, higher than MBAs at any other school in the world, with nearly four in 10 boasting stock options with a median value of a quarter of a million dollars; GSB graduates founded 31 of the 100 most heavily funded MBA startups on the planet in the past five years. But here, at the most selective B-school in America for the past 10 years, where the leaders of today and tomorrow are equipped to run the world, a dark side is emerging and its taint is spreading through the school, the university, and the community.

The legal saga brings up serious questions about Stanford’s oversight of the business school, about the role of Provost John Etchemendy in the university’s response to the dean’s affair, about the decision by the university to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal expenses to keep emails and Facebook posts between the dean and his lover out of public view, and about Saloner’s leadership and judgment. At stake are the reputation of the business school, its lucrative donation stream, and ultimately the value of the degrees it confers, whether already in a CV or to come.


Problems go beyond the fact that the judgment and actions of the man in control of the B-school are being questioned inside Stanford’s red-tiled buildings and in two different courts. Over the past two years, incidents involving students that left an innocent man dead and a woman battered have raised alarms about the culture underlying the GSB. Taken as a whole, troubling events in recent years at the business school can be seen as an all-too-familiar tale of spectacular success that has led to arrogance and overreach at best, contempt for laws, policies, and social mores at worst – much as in some of the corporate cases studied by MBAs in their classes. As one of the B-school’s professors says, “We’re at the right place at the right time. The students come here thinking that their ticket has already been punched. A lot of what has happened here is about overconfidence and hubris. A symptom of power is that you don’t believe the rules apply to you.”

GSB students drink beer from plastic flamingos on an airplane during the 2009 “Vegas FOAM” trip. – Facebook photo

Last academic year, a male GSB student was suspended from the MBA program and banned from the Stanford campus after he was accused of raping a fellow GSB first-year MBA student, his girlfriend at the time, in her campus dorm room last year, and attacking her on multiple occasions. After the March 2014 reported rape, the male student was arrested by university police and booked into Santa Clara County Jail, but the DA declined to charge him. Stanford’s disciplinary office, which operates on a lower burden of proof than the California criminal justice system, noted evidence that the couple had in the past engaged in “consensual aggressive sex” and it dismissed the rape charge. However, it found the male student responsible for committing violence against the female student during the episode involving the rape claim, leaving her with small bruises, and broken capillaries on both sides of her neck. Determined to be unfounded were allegations by the woman that the man had committed violence against her on three other occasions, one of which she claimed had occurred during a student-organized GSB “FOAM” trip to Las Vegas after the female student paid a surgically enhanced escort for was what she has said was a mutually planned “threesome” with the boyfriend in their suite at the Bellagio.

FOAM stands for “Friends of Arjay Miller,” a former dean. It is the nickname given to alcohol-fueled outings by Stanford MBA students.


The male MBA candidate had argued during the Stanford investigation that the female candidate had made her allegations of rape and violence to get back at him for breaking up with her. The university’s coordinator for Title IX federal sex-discrimination complaints banned the man from enrolling for two years at Stanford if the woman were enrolled. That ruling was made moot when the female candidate appealed an initial community-standards office one-school-year “suspended suspension” and Stanford upped the male candidate’s punishment to an actual school-year suspension. The female student has not returned to the GSB. .

GSB MBA candidate Zachary Katz, in police mugshot

In an October 2013 incident, first-year GSB MBA student Zachary Katz – a 24-year-old prodigy who had landed at the school with a Summa Cum Laude undergraduate degree in biochemistry, history, and English literature from Harvard and a master’s in bioscience enterprise from Cambridge – allegedly drove the wrong way southbound down the Route 101 freeway in South San Francisco and smashed his Infiniti sedan into an SUV taxi, killing a 62-year-old man from Puerto Rico and severely injuring another taxi passenger and the cab driver. Katz, hospitalized after the crash, was charged with drunk driving and vehicular manslaughter. He has pleaded not guilty; a jury trial is set for January 14 next year. His LinkedIn profile says he expects to finish his MBA in 2018.

The wreck took place just a month after high-profile GSB professor Jeffrey Pfeffer in a BusinessWeek essay slammed a shallow, hedonistic, partying culture of “booze, cars and houses” at top business schools.


“Business school has become way more about the parties than about the course work. What happened to the classes, to academic performance, to learning something? If and when business schools become more like many of their professional school brethren—where status comes primarily from academic/professional accomplishment, not from who can hold the most liquor or put on the best show . . . the culture will change for the better—from booze, cars, and houses to ideas,” Pfeffer wrote, devoting nearly a quarter of the essay to the GSB FOAM trip tradition as the starting point for the corruption of student culture at the GSB. For the one-night-in-Vegas FOAM trips, students dress in ’70s attire.

Every Tuesday night, weekly FOAM drinking gatherings are held – “the reason I am exhausted and hungover in my Wednesday morning Leadership Lab session,” according to an MBA Class of 2011 blogger. Friday evenings are for free drinks and food at “Liquidity Preference Functions” hosted in the school’s Town Square by a different club each week.

A photo posted to Facebook from the 2012 GSB trip to Colombia

Another unsanctioned GSB party trip – taking place before students even start the MBA program – has become a tradition in recent years: a jaunt to Colombia that tends to attract more than half the incoming class for sightseeing, beach partying, clubbing till dawn, and getting familiar with new peers. This year’s nine-day Colombia trip required eight months of planning and attracted some 260 pre-MBAs. Last year, after Bloomberg BusinessWeek ran a story on the event, FastCompany magazine co-founder Bill Taylor tweeted:

“How do you spell Stanford MBA? Y*U*C*K. I’m sorry, this is gross. No wonder there’s so little faith in business.”


However, one of the organizers of this year’s Colombia trip calls it a major success. “Our objective was to bring as many people as possible together in a unique environment where we could celebrate this wonderful new chapter of our lives,” says Omid Scheybani, a new business development manager at Google for two years before starting his MBA this month.

Scheybani notes that he and about 20 classmates climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania together this summer. “The trip to Kili was all about challenging ourselves with one of the most difficult hikes in this world,” Scheybani says. “What has been most surprising – and that includes our trip to Colombia – is that the social interactions thus far have rather been the opposite of the ‘excessive partying culture.’”

He and his peers are aware of the need to balance “. . . our own academic goals and the desire to socially interact with all these great people around us. . .,” Scheybani says.

Before today, Scheybani and some of the smartest young people on the planet were starting their MBAs in the classrooms of the GSB unaware that they are walking into what dozens of current and former staff have described as an inequitable, retributive workplace and ignorant of lurid allegations about their new dean contained in thousands of pages of legal documents piling up in a state courthouse 20 miles south in San Jose and in state divorce court in Sunnyvale, two towns away.


Within the eight volumes of Santa Clara County Superior Court files in San Jose, which form a stack more than a foot high, and within the three volumes in Sunnyvale Superior Court, details of the dean’s affair include the revelation that Saloner used the alias “Jeni Gee” while telling Gruenfeld on Facebook that he hoped Phills, Gruenfeld’s professor husband, would leave the school.

An excerpt of correspondence between GSB dean Garth Saloner and GSB professor Deborah Gruenfeld, from court records

At some point, and via a mode of communication not made clear in court documents, Saloner and Gruenfeld had an exchange that Phills’s lawyers call “probative of whether he bore ill will towards Phills.”

In the correspondence, Gruenfeld writes, “He deserves a starring role, but you need to rewrite: (sic) the ending.” Saloner responds, “Knife. Penis. Town square. Got it.”

Phills was fired April 3, 2014 from his full-time job teaching in the GSB MBA program, with the termination effective June 3 of this year. Phills’ lawsuit was filed a day before he was fired, but court filings indicate the termination had been in process before the lawsuit was filed, suggesting coincidental timing.


Originally from South Africa, Saloner arrived at the business school as an economist with a quiver full of degrees, including a 1977 MBA from his native country’s University of Witwatersrand and from Stanford, an undergraduate degree in economics, an MS in statistics and a PhD in economics, business, and public policy.

He had deep academic credentials: professor for eight years until 1990 at the MIT Sloan School of Management, national fellow at the Hoover Institute in 1986-87 and visiting associate professor at Harvard Business School in 1989-90.

Entering the GSB as a professor of strategic management and economics, he moved into administration in 1993 as senior associate dean for academic affairs, serving until 1996.

A Sloan Fellow and co-founder of the Stanford Computer Industry Project, Saloner also founded the Center for Electronic Business and Commerce and designed the Summer Institute for Entrepreneurship. He is one of only two GSB faculty members to twice win a Distinguished Teaching Award, an annual honor decided by student vote, in 1993 and 2008.


In the wrongful termination suit, Phills accuses Saloner of railroading him out of the business school while sleeping with his wife. “Saloner and Plaintiff’s wife Deborah Gruenfeld, who also happens to be Saloner’s subordinate, carried out a clandestine intimate relationship while Saloner was making decisions about Phills’ employment and home loans,” Phills’s lawyers claim in a May court filing. The dean and the university “acted maliciously, fraudulently, despicably, and oppressively,” Phills’s statement of complaint says.

Phills’s lawsuit seeks unspecified general and punitive damages, plus attorneys’ fees.


An excerpt from a GSB staff letter to the Stanford Provost

While the GSB continues to ride a wave of success under Saloner’s leadership, rancor and fear seethe beneath the surface, a letter by staff to Stanford Provost John Etchemendy suggests.  An April 2014 letter to Etchemendy attached to the Phills lawsuit and purportedly signed by 27 current and 19 former GSB employees, attacks Saloner’s leadership, refers to the affair with Gruenfeld and demands that the dean not be appointed for a second term. Although the letter was put into the court record without the signatures. Etchemendy has acknowledged in a deposition that he received the letter, and did not disagree with a lawyer’s reference to 46 signatories. It appears nearly all signatories – now known in the school as the “Group of 46” – were administrators and other staff, including senior personnel.

“Under the leadership of the current dean, we have observed an increasingly disturbing pattern of inequitable treatment in the form of reprimands, censures, curtailing of responsibilities, demotions, retribution for expressing concerns or raising issues, offensive behavior and decisions that have led directly to tangible employment actions such as dismissals, undesirable reassignments, forced resignations, and inequitable access to promotion opportunities,” the letter says.

“There have been numerous violations of the University’s Code of Conduct as well as its HR policies. The numbers alone paint a striking picture . . . Of the 40 senior staff members who have left the GSB since 2010, the vast majority are women and over 40 (the remainder are almost all men over 40).

“The current GSB dean – and the leadership he has put in place – have . . . created a hostile work environment – especially to women and individuals over 40 – ruled by personal agendas, favoritism, and fear.”

An excerpt from a GSB staff letter to the Stanford Provost

Breaches in the confidentiality of the annual employee survey have ratcheted up the climate of fear, the letter suggests.

The letter charges that Saloner “has repeatedly demonstrated a disregard for the rules, policies and guidelines put in place by the University . . . his actions have become increasingly brazen.” The letter calls Saloner’s affair an example of “poor judgment,” saying that in entering into a relationship with a subordinate he opened himself up to sexual harassment charges, exposed the school to liability, set a bad example for students, and acted in a manner “stereotypical of the behavior of many discredited CEOs and other leaders.”

Sources in the GSB say Phills was not involved in the letter’s production and didn’t sign it.

Phills, 55, and Gruenfeld, 54, married in 1999, and started at the GSB in 2000, both as organizational behavior professors, but only Gruenfeld was tenured. They separated in June 2012 by mutual accord, Phills says in court documents, and Gruenfeld moved out. They have two daughters, now 11 and 14. Phills’s lawsuit complaint says that after the couple split, his daughters were living with him in the “family home,” along with Phills’s elderly mother, and that he and Gruenfeld were sharing equal custody. Phills filed for divorce from Gruenfeld on December 7, 2012

n her “story” on the LeanIn.org website, Gruenfeld, 54, writes: “. . . I got married the same year I got tenure. I was pregnant with my first child when I arrived at Stanford. In 2005, my second child, a toddler, was diagnosed with cancer. As of this month, she is considered fully recovered. But now I am weathering a painful divorce.”

Former GSB professor Jim Phills in his Harvard wrestling days – Harvard Crimson photo

Phills, an intercollegiate champion heavyweight wrestler in his undergraduate days at Harvard, describes himself of late in a court filing as “a largely sedentary and overweight academic.” He served as faculty director of the GSB’s Center for Social Innovation from 2000 to 2009.


Gruenfeld, before coming to Stanford, had been a professor at the Northwestern University Kellogg School of Management from 1993 to 2000. Two years after arriving at Stanford she was named a fellow of the Stanford-linked Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, putting her in the fellowship company of 22 Nobel laureates and 44 winners of MacArthur “Genius Grants.”

Phills says in court filings he has no evidence his wife and the dean had a sexual relationship before October 2012. But he says in a divorce-case filing, “more than one person has indicated that there were overtures and invitations as early as of (sic) the end of June” – the month Gruenfeld moved out. And he says his wife once confessed to him that she and Saloner had an intimate conversation and embraced in her office in 2008 or 2009. “She was reluctant to tell me about this and clearly felt some sense of guilt,” Phills says in a divorce filing.

Emails between Saloner and Gruenfeld from August 2012 show them planning a hike. An investigator hired by Stanford later reported that at the time of the outing in the grassy, oak-dappled hills above Stanford, “Gruenfeld did not think that there was anything romantic in the works between them, and she doesn’t think Saloner did either.”


In an exchange via their Stanford email accounts after the hike, Saloner says, “Thanks for this morning. It felt really good spending that time with you,” and Gruenfeld responds, “Ditto, thanks for the invitation.”

It was not until October 2012 that Gruenfeld began to think her relationship with Saloner might become “more personal,” according to the report by investigator Marcia Pope, a lawyer with the San Francisco office of the Pillsbury law firm. Gruenfeld and Saloner had attempted to go for a drink in downtown Palo Alto but had walked into an establishment to find “the place was full of GSB colleagues,” Pope reports. “The two felt awkward about the situation, so they ended up going back to Saloner’s house, where they shared a glass of wine in the kitchen. Professor Gruenfeld described the interaction as ‘warm and personal.’”


In a May court ruling on the lawsuit parties’ disputes over introduction of communications between Saloner and Gruenfeld, Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Beth McGowan writes that Gruenfeld became romantically involved with Saloner “around the same time” as Phills and Gruenfeld separated in June 2012. Stanford, in a Sept. 14 press release says the relationship between Saloner and Gruenfeld started “several months” after Gruenfeld and Phills separated. Court records indicate the relationship between Saloner and Gruenfeld is ongoing.

Arguments over communications between Saloner and Gruenfeld – including messages and photos that lawyers for Saloner and Stanford call “extremely intimate” and “extremely private” – make up the vast majority of the filings in Phills’ lawsuit. Phills is fighting for copies of all communications he considers relevant to his lawsuit, while Saloner and Stanford are battling to keep communications between Saloner and Gruenfeld out of the court case and away from public view. Lawyers for Phills argue that communications between Saloner and Gruenfeld reveal Saloner’s “animus” toward Phills and Saloner’s desire to push him off the campus. Lawyers for Saloner and Stanford claim Phills seeks to introduce the material in court to “embarrass and harass” his estranged wife and Saloner; the attorneys describe Phills’ request for the photos as “voyeuristic.”


Saloner and Stanford have even intervened in the ongoing divorce case between Phills and Gruenfeld, seeking to prevent public disclosure of the messages between the dean and Gruenfeld. The actual divorce proceedings, including division of family assets, have been delayed as Phills’ lawyers seek records of communications between his wife and Saloner, and lawyers for Stanford and Saloner seek to block such access. Phills’ lawyers argue the exchanges between Saloner and Gruenfeld show Gruenfeld’s failure to abide by her fiduciary duty to her husband and are therefore relevant to the divorce dispute. Lawyers for Stanford and Saloner argue that the exchanges are confidential and irrelevant to the divorce.

by Ethan Baron on September 14, 2015

Stanford GSB professor Deborah Gruenfeld

Lawyers for Saloner and Stanford accuse Phills of illegally hacking into his wife’s university email, private email, and social media accounts, and stealing her private communications. Phills does not deny accessing Gruenfeld’s accounts before and after she moved out, and argues that he and Gruenfeld knew each other’s passwords and shared access to the accounts. He also says Gruenfeld had regularly used his devices to access her email and Facebook accounts, so her passwords were saved and would autofill. “I was able to save or print screenshots of some Facebook messages before Dean Saloner and my wife deliberately purged them after I notified Stanford of my concerns about their clandestine relationship,” Phills writes in a declaration to the court for his lawsuit. Phills says he didn’t access Gruenfeld’s Facebook or Stanford email accounts after Nov. 30, 2012. Saloner says in a deposition that he deleted his Facebook accounts after he suspected Phills had seen them.

Gruenfeld says she never gave her husband permission to access her e-mail, other electronic accounts, or personal correspondence. But in court documents, Phills relates an incident he claims occurred in in November 2012 when Phills and Gruenfeld were separated but not yet estranged. Phills says he and Gruenfeld and their daughters were at the dinner table when Gruenfeld complained that her cell phone was running slowly and crashing and asked him to look at it. Phills says he he suspected the device may have been overloaded with messages, and when he checked the email application, found a Gmail dialog between his wife and the dean, he claims. He says he had already learned that his wife and Saloner were having an affair but still “… was surprised by the explicit sexual content…”


In any case, Phills’s lawyers have introduced into court records, via the lawsuit and divorce case, enough of Saloner’s correspondence with Gruenfeld and school administration to suggest that the dean wanted Phills out of the GSB and that he made crucial decisions concerning Phills after beginning the affair with Gruenfeld while purportedly recusing himself.

Phills alleges Saloner attempted to damage him financially and emotionally while working to advance Gruenfeld’s interests in her divorce proceedings.“(Saloner) and Gruenfeld actively sought to force (Phills) out of the house on campus for their own ends of discouraging (Phills) from remaining in his position at Stanford in the same department as Saloner and Gruenfeld,” Phills’ lawsuit complaint says. Phills claims the GSB, under Saloner’s leadership, also removed him as director of executive education programs he had developed and taught for years on top of his MBA-program duties, replacing him with less-qualified faculty. “Subsequently, Professor Phills was not even invited to teach in the very programs that he had created, even though these programs used teaching materials and a textbook that he had authored,” Phills’s complaint says.

An email in a court filing, to Phills from senior associate dean Madhav Rajan, says faculty selection for executive education courses is done at a level below the dean’s office.


Phills accuses Stanford Provost Etchemendy of harassing and intimidating him and has argued in written negotiations with Etchemendy that he couldn’t return from leave into a hostile workplace, under the supervision of the man dating his wife. Phills had gone on unpaid leave from his full-time position at the GSB in May 2012 to begin working at Apple but continued to teach several courses through June 2014, compensated for some but not for others.

Etchemendy, in a March 2014 letter demanding that Phills resign from Apple and return to full-time duties at the GSB, says the university investigated “every specific allegation” Phills made regarding claimed retaliation by Saloner and a hostile work environment and found them “without merit.”

A lawyer for Saloner, Michael Lucey, a partner in the San Francisco office of Gordon & Rees, said in a Sept. 12 statement to Poets&Quants: “As the months passed after [Phills’s] November 2012 deadline to return, Prof. Phills refused to return to Stanford, despite repeated requests from the Provost that he do so. Ultimately, after several extensions that extended his leave by several quarters, Prof. Phills was given the choice to either return to the faculty or face termination. He chose termination.”


Lawyers for Saloner and Stanford claim that the dean and university acted out of legitimate, business-related considerations; that any damage to Phills was done by himself; that Phills brought about his own termination from the GSB by refusing to return from leave; and that by hacking into his wife’s communications, he violated university policy and state and federal laws. The lawyers for Saloner and Stanford have asked the court in the lawsuit case for permission to file a “cross complaint” – a lawsuit within a lawsuit – against Phills, alleging invasion of privacy.

The lawyers for Saloner and Stanford also claim Phills is trying to use his lawsuit “to torment his estranged wife and extract discovery that may be used against her in the divorce case.”


Beyond the claim that Saloner engineered his ouster, Phills’s accusation that the dean attempted to sabotage him financially centers on loans that Phills and Gruenfeld took from the university. The $250,000 in loans at issue in the case are the GSB-controlled portion of $1 million the couple borrowed through university and GSB faculty home-loan programs to build a house on campus in 2005. Phills and Gruenfeld had received $250,000 in “exceptional” loans beyond the $750,000 limit of the Stanford housing program.

The loans had been granted to Gruenfeld, but both she and Phills had signed for them as borrowers, court filings show. Phills was told by GSB administration that because Gruenfeld had left the house, and the exceptions had been granted to her, he would have to pay them back.

Current value of the 3,000-square-foot, four-bedroom, three-bathroom home, on a half-acre, is estimated by real estate website Zillow to be $3.9 million.


Filings in the divorce case show Phills and Gruenfeld, in the three years before their separation, making a combined annual income between $511,000 and $593,000. In May 2012, Phills began working for Apple University, the tech giant’s internal training facility; his income climbed to $769,000 that year, grew to $1.2 million in 2013, and hit $1.7 million last year. Gruenfeld’s income, $487,000 in 2012, dropped to $462,000 in 2013, then jumped to $504,000 last year. This year, according to court records, she expects a $1.1 million one-time payment from a book deal. The book, Acting With Power, is to be published by Crown.

An email exchange from GSB Dean Garth Saloner to Stanford Provost John Etchemendy

Lawyers for Saloner and Stanford maintain that in an October 31, 2012 email to Etchemendy in which Saloner tells Etchemendy about his relationship with Gruenfeld, Saloner recuses himself from any decisions about Phills and Gruenfeld. The email appears to show the opposite: “I have seen Deb a few times socially,” Saloner writes. “I am not sure where the line is for reporting such matters and suspect I am pretty far from it . . . (Phills) has been on partial leave . . . and we had set this quarter as the time to figure out our relationship going forward . . . The negotiations over this will be handled by my SADs (senior associate deans) as they usually are. It is possible that I will be asked to weigh in at some point, and at a minimum will certainly be asked to ratify their recommendations. With apologies for burdening you with this I propose to ask you to approve our thinking on whatever we decide (and perhaps to weigh in more substantively, depending on what we recommend).”


Etchemendy’s emailed response to Saloner appears to grant the dean authority to make decisions about Phills. “I am absolutely supportive of anything you decide wrt Jim,” Etchemendy writes.

In a Facebook chat with Gruenfeld that divorce court filings indicate took place shortly after Saloner’s correspondence with Etchemendy, Saloner discusses his and Gruenfeld’s relationship – “Can’t risk letting your kids walk in on us” and “I could meet you on your street for one late night hug, but I know better than to think we could limit ourselves” – then reports to Gruenfeld on his disclosure to Etchemendy. “He basically ignored what I said about the two of us and, not in these words, that he trusts me to make any decisions regarding Jim . . . I think it is his way of saying ‘you have done what the policy says you have to do, I appreciate it, but the policy wasn’t written with you/this in mind and so I’m respecting your privacy and ignoring it.’”


Gruenfeld replies, “Love that. So discreet and respectful,” and after the pair exchange a few more comments, Saloner declares, “I want to hold you,” and Gruenfeld responds, “I want you to hold me.”

Later, in what Phills’ lawyers say is a reference to “Etchemendy’s lack of concern about Saloner’s ongoing role as Dean supervising both Gruenfeld and Phills,” Saloner writes to Gruenfeld to say, “As predicted, Etch is totally cool,” a court filing says.

Lawyers for Saloner and Stanford refer on multiple occasions to a recusal by Saloner, saying in two filings that it occurred at “the outset” of the relationship between the dean and Gruenfeld. In a March filing, the lawyers provide a more specific time-frame. “In October 2012, Dean Saloner timely and properly recused himself as to employment decisions concerning Phills and Gruenfeld,” the lawyers state. “Phills alleges that Dean Saloner did not in fact recuse himself from involvement in decisions that affected the terms and conditions of Phills’ employment, including those related to university housing… At no time did Dean Saloner comment on or ‘approve’ any decision related to the repayment of the exceptional loans.”


Etchemendy also maintained that Saloner had fully recused himself from duties involving Phills. In a letter last year to Phills over Phills’s employment status, Etchemendy says that “the dean recused himself from all supervisorial duties in October 2012. Those duties have been handled by Senior Associate Dean Madhav Rajan in consultation with me or by me alone since that time.”

On Nov. 8, 2012, about a week after Saloner’s exchange with Etchemendy and his report to Gruenfeld, Saloner agreed with a decision to deny Phills the $250,000 in exceptional loans that had been granted to Gruenfeld when the couple jointly signed for the loans, starting the process in which the GSB demanded repayment, court records show. Rajan had emailed Saloner to tell him that he and the other senior associate deans (SADs) unanimously opposed granting housing-loan exceptions to Phills. “I wanted to find out whether you wanted me to do anything different, and in particular if you felt that we should give Jim the housing exceptions,” writes Rajan, who according to documents filed in the lawsuit had not at the time been informed of Saloner’s affair with Gruenfeld. Saloner replies, “I agree with the view of the SADs on this.”

The same day, Rajan informs Phills of the decision. “As for the housing exception, I’m afraid this is not going to be possible,” Rajan writes in an email. “I have now spoken to the other SADs, to Claudia (associate dean Claudia Morgan) and to Garth . . . about the matter. The dean’s office is not willing to petition the university for an exception to the standard Stanford housing program.”


Phills’s complaint also refers to an email from Rajan to Phills, about the school’s demand for loan repayment. The message purportedly says all decisions Rajan communicated to Phills represented the “collective opinion of everyone in the dean’s office.” Phills’s lawyers italicized “everyone” in their court filing.

Saloner lawyer Lucey concedes in his Sept. 12 statement to Poets&Quants that Saloner had been involved in the decision about Phills when the dean “agreed” with his SADs to deny Phills the loan exceptions, but Lucey says Saloner’s was not the last word. “Dean Saloner forwarded that decision to the Provost, who made the final decision,” Lucey says. “No non-tenured faculty at the GSB has ever received these special loans, so the decision was routine.”

Phills argues in his complaint that under Stanford’s faculty loan policy his position on the university’s Academic Council makes him eligible for the extensions, so denying them violated the policy.


Lucey says in his statement that Saloner’s recusal notice, which asks Etchemendy to “approve our thinking on whatever we decide” and “perhaps to weigh in more substantively,”  makes clear that final authority rested with Etchemendy. “Dean Saloner initially proposed that, while he might weigh in on decisions if asked, the Provost would make the final decision on any decisions affecting either Prof. Phills or Prof. Gruenfeld,” Lucey says.

A month after the purported recusal, Phills contacted Etchemendy about Saloner’s relationship with Gruenfeld, and “the Provost immediately took over all decision making affecting both Professors.” Lucey says. “Dean Saloner was not involved in any other decisions affecting Prof. Phills. They were all made by the Provost.”

Nine months after Saloner’s claimed recusal, Phills received a letter informing him his salary would be $227,686 for the 2013/14 academic year; the lead signature was Saloner’s, and the letter said the amount of the salary was proposed by Saloner and his subordinates, according to Phills’ complaint. Court records do not appear to contain Phills’ salary figures for previous years.


In a Facebook exchange that appears to have occurred in the latter third of November 2012, Gruenfeld refers to Phills – then on leave from the GSB and working for Apple – saying she would meet with Phills the next day to talk about his plans and their divorce. “Maybe he’s staying at apple,” she writes. Saloner as “Jeni Gee” responds, “Let’s hope. We deserve something good tomorrow. We’ve earned it.” He goes on to add, “The universe owes us. Big time.”

In another Facebook chat, which appears to have occurred in early November 2012, Saloner expresses concern that Gruenfeld and her female lawyer and therapist are approaching Gruenfeld’s divorce from Phills “too much as women . . . You are being rational and generous . . . Spewing the anger that you feel, even if it is unrelated to what you want, would make you a less predictable and rational adversary. It might make him think twice about asking for nice-to-haves that require a generosity of spirit on your part . . . one of the reasons he doesn’t settle is that he believes that by being sweet he can get inside you and weasel stuff out of you. Telling him what you really think of his behavior would put that to rest. He would pout, posture, and do the elephant seal thing. But it would push him back like a right to the jaw.”

The male elephant seal is a colossal, blubbery ocean-going mammal weighing up to 8,800 pounds, with a pendulous, trunk-like snout.


Saloner informed his senior team in December 2012 about his relationship with Gruenfeld, court records show. However, until Saloner’s resignation announcement, students remained ignorant  of both the drama playing out in court and the one underway in the offices of the GSB. MBA candidates give rave reviews to their education and praise the school’s operations and leadership.

First-year student Scheybani, after the trips to Colombia and Tanzania, an official GSB trip to South Korea to study consumerism, and one day of class, had “very positive” impressions of the MBA program.

“The school is super dedicated to the success of its students and the student body consists of a lot of great personalities that I can’t wait to get to know better,” Scheybani says. “The profs that I have interacted with thus far have been nothing short of great and looking at the overall quality of the faculty, there is a lot to look forward to.”


Among senior staff whom Scheybani won’t be interacting with are four formerly high-ranking women who left the school since Saloner became dean. Sharon Hoffman, MBA program director and associate dean for almost 11 years after nine years as senior associate director of MBA admissions, departed in June 2012. Blair Shane started as chief marketing officer and associate dean in 2011 and was gone within three years. Kriss Deiglmeier, executive director of the GSB Center for Social Innovation for a decade, left in February last year. Beth Benjamin, director of strategic initiatives and development for two years and previously the founding executive director for five years at the GSB Center for Leadership Development and Research, left in 2010. Three of the women did not provide comment to Poets&Quants. However, Shane, now a marketing partner and the CMO at Silicon Valley venture capital firm Sequoia Capital, described as “incredible” her three years at the school. “I left Stanford on very positive terms, to take advantage of a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity at Sequoia,” Shane says.

Etchemendy, in his deposition, says the letter from current and former staff arrived after the decision was made in fall 2013 to reappoint Saloner as dean for another five years. “I had not communicated the decision, but the decision had been made,” Etchemendy says, adding that such decisions are typically made in the fall of the last year of a dean’s term because a world-wide search for a new dean is a lengthy process.


Etchemendy says he had surveyed staff in November 2013 before deciding to give Saloner another term, and found only two faculty members beside Phills who expressed unfavorable views on Saloner. “One was pretty negative and, and one said it was time to move on,” Etchemendy says in the deposition. After receiving the letter, Etchemendy met with representatives from the 46 signatories, he says. However, during Etchemendy’s deposition, a lawyer for Saloner and Stanford prevented him from answering any questions about what Etchemendy had discussed with the signatories’ representatives beyond Phills, and Etchemendy said they hadn’t talked about Phills. Etchemendy says in his deposition that he shared the letter with Stanford president John Hennessy, but the lawyer stopped Etchemendy from answering when Etchemendy was asked if Hennessy gave any instructions or guidance in the matter.


Stanford administration “took a number of steps” in response to the “Group of 46” letter, including inviting members of the group “to submit fuller details of their individual situations and experiences,” says Stanford spokesman Brad Hayward. “The University then initiated an outside review of those cases. The review did not find age or gender discrimination.” The issues raised in the letter “arose largely out of a restructuring of the GSB’s centers,” Hayward says. “The review did identify some areas where the school could make improvements, and those findings were communicated back to the school, which has been following up on them.”

Asked whether he had followed up on allegations that Saloner exercised bad judgment, Etchemendy said, “This is an allegation of poor judgment because he has entered into a relationship with a faculty member who is separated from her husband, and I think that that’s, that’s their, their judgment . . . What would there be to investigate?”

Stanford President Hennessy announced June 11 that he’ll step down in the summer of 2016. In his announcement, he also gave notice of Provost Etchemendy’s departure. “To ensure a smooth transition to new leadership, the provost has graciously agreed to stay on for up to one year with my successor, but he will not be a candidate for the position of president,” Hennessy said.


Gruenfeld and Phills declined interviews for this article. Saloner lawyer Michael Lucey said his client could be interviewed because of the litigation.  Hayward says allegations in Phills’ lawsuit “inaccurately and unfairly characterize the actions of people at Stanford and are without merit.

“Under the dean’s leadership, the Graduate School of Business continues to perform at exceptionally high levels, drawing extraordinary faculty from around the globe, generating excellent support from its alumni, and providing an unparalleled academic experience for its students,” Hayward says.

A press release from the university says: “Saloner has also focused on programs to expand diversity at the GSB. Women comprise 42% of the new MBA class entering this fall. Women make up 54% of the new faculty members hired in the past two years. Four of the five GSB volunteer boards are led by women and 30% or more of their members are women.”


Before he was named dean, Saloner had become instrumental to the ascendancy of the GSB led by his predecessor, Robert Joss. In 2006, Joss netted what was at the time the largest gift ever made to a business school, $105 million from Nike founder and 1962 Stanford MBA Phil Knight. Almost the whole donation, $100 million, went toward construction of a new $350 million GSB campus, the Knight Management Center.  Joss initiated the creation of a new MBA core curriculum, and Saloner led the faculty team tasked with developing it. Launched in 2007, the new core included classes at multiple levels to account for students’ differing backgrounds; increased leadership content; and imposition of a global-experience requirement. At the time, Pfeffer, the GSB professor and an outspoken critic of management education, called the new curriculum “a complete restructuring of the educational process” and “the most important thing that has happened at Stanford in my 27 years.” After Saloner was named dean in 2009, Leo Linbeck, a ’94 GSB MBA who served on the curriculum committee, described Saloner’s work on the curriculum transformation as “a classic example of great organizational leadership.”

However, by the time Saloner became dean, students were complaining that new curriculum’s percentage of required courses, increased to add rigor, took away flexibility. The school cut the required courses from 65% of the curriculum to less than 45%. One faculty member, who did not want to be named, said, “Garth came in and really tried to change the culture and when the students pushed back, he caved.”

Saloner has also been a rainmaker to be reckoned with: Under his leadership, the school in 2011 brought in a donation eclipsing Knight’s when 1960 Stanford MBA Robert King and his wife Dorothy gave $150 million for the Stanford Institute for Innovation in Developing Economies. Since Saloner became dean, the business school has raised more than $500 million in “private support,” according to the university. Over the past five years, Saloner has been reporting to faculty that the GSB wins 75% to 80% of candidates admitted there and at Harvard Business School.

That’s an impressive statistic that speaks to Stanford’s place in the B-school universe and, by extension, Silicon Valley, Wall Street and Corporate America. Whether the GSB’s image will be permanently sullied by an unseemly affair and internal rancor remains to be seen, but perhaps there is a lesson here for the powerful-in-training.

In her GSB profile, Gruenfeld, a social psychologist whose research focuses on the psychology of power, suggests that “when power corrupts, it can be without conscious awareness.” Power, she says, erodes concern for the social consequences of one’s actions and strengthens the connection between “personal desires and the acts that satisfy them.”


The Stanford Undergraduate and the Mentor



Credit Left, Elinor Carucci for The New York Times; Ian Allen for The New York Times

On a weekend in March almost three years ago, Ellie Clougherty flew from London to Rome with Joe Lonsdale. She was a 21-year-old junior at Stanford University, and it was her first trip to Italy. Lonsdale, then

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