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Megan Muir

Posts by Megan Muir

Top 10 Pitfalls in Managing Employment Contracts as You Go Global

Posted in For Entrepreneurs and Companies, Startups

Megan Muir.jpgCONTRIBUTED BY
Megan Muir
megan.muir@dlapiper.com

From our colleague, Ute Krudewagen

The CEO of an emerging growth company called me a while ago, a bit shocked after having seen the employment contracts that had just been issued to a couple of new hires in Hong Kong.  “How could they be longer than mine!?  Are you sure that is the approach we should take as we expand our operations?”

This CEO, like many US executives, employment lawyers and HR representatives, is accustomed to one- or two-page US-style at-will offer letters. But in many jurisdictions around the world,. detailed employment agreements are not only customary and best practices, but are simply required.  In fact, as foreign companies expand into the US, we see the reverse phenomenon – foreign companies rolling out foreign-style employment agreements to US-based regular employees, thus losing the benefits of the unique concept of at-will employment in the US. 

Against this background, here are ten important pitfalls to be aware of as you develop your global employment documentation:

1.  You don’t use a contract.  Outside the United States, your employees will expect a contract – and might sue if they don’t get one! Written employment agreements are best practices and they can incorporate crucial terms such as probationary periods, termination grounds, or working time provisions.  In fact, many jurisdictions require written employment agreements.  In China, for instance, a company that fails to issue a written employment agreement within one month of the commencement date will be subject to double wage claims.  In the European Union, under Directive 91/533/EEC[1], an employer is required to inform its employees of all relevant terms of the employment relationship within two months of commencement of employment; commonly, this information is provided in the employment agreement.  Several EU member states have more stringent requirements.

2. You fail to protect your company by including probationary periods and proper termination provisions.  Given the lack of at-will employment, probationary periods are crucial outside the United States.  Each country has different rules on the maximum duration of a probationary period, whether renewals are permissible, etc. (e.g., Germany permits a six-month probationary period, China six months for open-term contracts, but only one month for fixed-term contracts of less than one year, and two months for contracts longer than one year).  If you include a probationary period, make sure to make any termination decisions before expiration of the probationary period.  In various jurisdictions, termination provisions are crucial as well.  While they may not always give a company full protection (since ultimately, it is statutory restrictions that determine in which instances terminations are permissible), they often give a company at least a good starting point to enforce a termination (e.g., in case of violation of company policies such as a code of conduct).

3. You don’t think strategically when it comes to employment contracts.  One size does not fit all. Before you embark on drafting employment agreements for your international operations, think through the strategy you want to use.  The most common approach is to prepare a local-law-compliant employment agreement in line with best practices and the standard approach of the specific jurisdiction where you hire.  Some companies feel strongly about global consistency, though, and would rather create a “global” template that would only be localized as necessary under local laws.  One hybrid approach is to agree on company-specific clauses (such as references to specific global policies and commission plan or bonus language – keeping in mind that internationally, once granted, variable compensation is hard to take away or amend) to include in any agreement globally, while otherwise working off local templates. 

Also consider the interrelationship between your contract and policies.  In some jurisdictions, it is advisable to incorporate relevant handbook policies in the contract (e.g., in the UK you need to mention disciplinary and grievance procedures). Having policies incorporated (e.g., data protection) can also often protect the company if claims are brought to show the employee was aware of procedures.  Finally, do not forget data privacy considerations.  Consider, for instance, whether you need consent to the transfer of personal data in the employment agreement, or a standalone data privacy notice.

4.  You don’t properly address assignment of intellectual property.[2]  Keeping your intellectual property safe starts from day one. Have you considered how to address IP assignment?  If there is a standard proprietary information and inventions assignment agreement (PIIA) you want to use, this must be localized under local laws.  Sometimes, specific policies and procedures are required.  In China, for instance, absent company rules on payments made for employee-created patents, a company will end up paying an amount determined under statutory rules.  In Russia, trade secrets must be specifically outlined in a company trade secrets regime or those trade secrets will not enjoy protection.

5. You use the wrong employing entity.  Make sure your employees (and the government and courts) know who’s the boss. A common mistake is to print the employment agreement on the parent company’s letterhead, or to include the parent company as employer of record in the contract.  This is only accurate where that company in fact acts as the employing entity (which is not feasible in some jurisdictions, like Brazil, Mexico or Russia).  Where you have set up an international structure of local subsidiaries, these should be expressly indicated to be the employing entity, or you risk joint employer liability and permanent establishment exposure of the employing entity, thus obliterating all the tax planning the company has done.  One exception to this rule: if stock option grants are made in a parent company, that company should be issuing the stock award documentation.

6.  You use the wrong template.  Which template to use is not determined by the employing entity, but by the jurisdiction in which the employee performs his or her services.  While most jurisdiction recognize the principle of choice of applicable law, this is usually overridden by considerations of public policy, and employees are almost always deemed protected (for example, see Article 8 of the Rome Convention[3]).  Accordingly, an employee in France should receive a French law-governed employment agreement, even if the employee works for a UK employing entity.  Otherwise, the employee could enjoy the best of both worlds (in this example, UK contractual rules, plus French statutory rules).

Also, templates for specific individuals or situations should be used where appropriate, such as fixed-term employment agreements (where permissible), managing director or entrustment agreements (e.g., in Germany or Japan for certain individuals in corporate roles), or agreements with specific working time provisions depending upon level of the employee.[4]

7.  You fail to translate your contract.  No surprise, but employees should be able to understand their agreement or it will not be enforced against them.  It is always fascinating when employees who used to be fluent in English during their entire employment relationship seem to have lost their ability to communicate in that language when it comes to bringing a termination lawsuit.  Indeed, many jurisdictions (such as Belgium, France or Poland) require employment agreements to be in the local language, even for an employee fluent in a foreign language.  Absent that, the agreement will not be enforceable (at least not against the employee).

8.  You insert unenforceable non-compete provisions.  You may think US state-to-state rules are confusing, but it gets much more interesting abroad. Rules on post-termination restrictive covenants vary significantly from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, with many following a general reasonableness approach (as in Australia, the United Arab Emirates or the UK), others prohibiting them outright (e.g., India, Mexico and Russia) and yet another set of jurisdictions requiring specific payouts for post-termination non-competes (e.g., China, France and Germany).  If you include such provisions in your employment agreement or PIIA, ensure that you understand the legal requirements.  For instance, in Germany, once included, a post-termination non-compete can only be terminated with a one-year advance waiver, or the company will end up paying the mandatory 50 percent post-termination non-compete compensation even if it has no desire in enforcing the provision.

9.  You don’t issue your contract on time.  Often, some delay is not a big deal, but there are jurisdictions (most often in the common law context) in which a valid contract is predicated not only on offer and acceptance, but also payment of a consideration, and these actions must happen within the proper timeframe. For example, if an employee in Canada receives his or her employment agreement after having commenced employment, then that employee will not be technically bound by the agreement, since no additional consideration was provided for the contractual restrictions set out in the contract.  Ongoing employment is not sufficient.

10.  You let your contracts become stale.  Last but not least, keep in mind that laws change, as do your company’s practices.  Implement a process to regularly review your template agreements and make sure they still provide you the best protection possible.


[1] See it here.

[2] See this post on the blog International Employment Lawyer.

[4] See this post on International Employment Lawyer.

Accredited Investor Verification under Rule 506(c)

Posted in For Entrepreneurs and Companies, For Investors and Fund Managers, Fundraising, News and Recent Events, SEC, Startups, VC & Private Equity

Megan Muir.jpgCONTRIBUTED BY
Megan Muir
megan.muir@dlapiper.com

Bill Carleton has a good post regarding the recent comments from Keith Higgins, the Director of the Division of Corporation Finance, who spoke at the 2014 Angel Capital Association Summit.  Higgins discussed the SEC’s principles-based approach with respect to meeting the requirements of new Rule 506(c). 

Since the SEC’s adoption of new Rule 506(c) in September 2013 allowing general solicitation by issuing companies in certain circumstances, angel investors have been concerned about the accredited investor verification standards set forth in those new rules.  The debate has centered around what actions are required by an issuing company to satisfy the requirement of taking “reasonable steps to verify” the accredited status of its investors when utilizing general solicitation as now permitted under the rule.  The rule itself provides a number of safe harbors that the SEC has determined will satisfy the standard, but many of those require detailed financial information about the investor to be provided to an issuing company or third party.  The Angel Capital Association has been out in front of this issue, advocating on behalf of angel investors in the SEC comment process and publishing its own guidance on verification of accredited investor status using membership in an established angel group (with various criterion spelled out).

It remains to be seen what ultimately becomes standard accepted procedures outside of the safe harbor provisions set out by the SEC, but the angel community is actively engaged in addressing the issue.

Employers: 2014 Deadlines to Furnish ISO and ESPP Information Statements and Returns

Posted in For Entrepreneurs and Companies, News and Recent Events, Startups, Uncategorized

Megan Muir.jpgCONTRIBUTED BY
Megan Muir
megan.muir@dlapiper.com

Employers, from startups to public companies, need to be aware of the following requirements and take action by January 31st if they apply.  Section 6039 of the Internal Revenue Code requires a corporation to furnish a written statement to any employee or former employee who either (i) exercised an incentive stock option within the meaning of Section 422 of the Code (ISO) during 2013 or (ii) during 2013 first transferred legal title to shares acquired under the corporation’s employee stock purchase plan within the meaning of Section 423 of the Code (ESPP). This requirement applies to both privately held and publicly traded corporations. The corporation must furnish these statements on Forms 3921 and 3922 no later than January 31, 2014.

IRS return filing requirement for 2013 transactions

In addition to the employee information statements, corporations must file returns with the Internal Revenue Service on Forms 3921 and 3922 no later than February 28, 2014, if filed on paper, or March 31, 2014, if filed electronically.  These information returns, Form 3921 for ISO exercises and Form 3922 for initial ESPP share transfers, must be filed electronically by any corporation required to file 250 or more of a particular return and may otherwise be filed either electronically or in paper form.

Deadlines

Employee information statements for 2013 transactions must be furnished no later than January 31, 2014. Information statements may be furnished to employees electronically in accordance with requirements set forth in the General Instructions for Certain Information Returns.

Paper filings of Form 3921 and 3922 for 2013 transactions must be submitted to the IRS with transmittal Form 1096 for each type of return and are due no later than February 28, 2014. However, corporations required to file 250 or more of either type of form must file that form electronically following the procedures contained in Publication 1220. Electronic filings of Forms 3921 and 3922 for 2012 transactions are due no later than March 31, 2014.

For more information on the contents required to be provided in such information statements, as well as links to the relevant forms and IRS instructions, see this recent DLA Piper Client Alert by William H. Hoffman of our Employee Benefits and Executive Compensation Group.

Top Labor and Employment Law Issues When Taking your Start-Up Global

Posted in For Entrepreneurs and Companies, Startups

Our colleague Ute Krudewagen has put together a list of some key labor and employment issues to consider if and when you decide to take your US-based emerging company to overseas locations.

So you are ready to expand?

Your start-up is off the ground and running, U.S. offer letters and confidentiality agreements have been signed and compliance policies have been implemented.  It’s now time to hire your first employee outside the U. S.  This seemingly easy task is often easier said than done.  For many emerging companies, the road to a global workforce is paved with potholes.  How can you prepare for the Friday afternoon call from a frantic HR manager who wants to hire a salesperson who will go to a competitor if he doesn’t have an offer in his hands by Monday morning?  Can you afford to lose the candidate, and all the great opportunity that the candidate represents to the business?  How do you respond when asked about a sales representative who received an offer three months ago and has since then been working in Brazil, while being paid directly from the U.S.?  These issues are part of running an international business, however, with the right preparation and planning, these speed bumps can be leveled before they escalate.

The five issues Ute discusses for growing employers to consider before going global are:

  • Doing Business and Tax Considerations, Including Corporate Structure
  • Will you Expand by Hiring Employees, Independent Contractors, Third Party Agencies or Expatriate Employees?
  • Payroll & Benefits Processes and Costs, Including Witholding on Taxes and Social Charges (similar to Social Security)
  • Employment Agreements & Policies
  • Managing the Exit Strategy – Probationary Periods, Lack of At-Will Employment, Notice Periods and Severance

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New SEC Rules Disqualifying “Bad Actors” in Private Fundraising

Posted in For Entrepreneurs and Companies, For Investors and Fund Managers, Fund Managers, News and Recent Events, SEC, Startups

Megan Muir.jpgCONTRIBUTED BY
Megan Muir
megan.muir@dlapiper.com

Earlier this summer, together with some of my partners within DLA Piper (Christopher Paci, Jason Harmon, Darryl Steinhause and Wesley Nissen), I wrote an article about new SEC regulations concerning private offerings. The final rules issued in July 2013 by the SEC go into effect on September 23, 2013. Below is a summary of the changes with respect to the disqualification of certain “bad actors” in connection with private offerings.  Also, attached is a sample Rule 506 Covered Person Questionnaire seeking information about potentially disqualified individuals and entities. The full article also contains a discussion of new rules allowing general solicitation in certain private fundraising as well as a discussion of certain proposed private offering rule changes that are not yet final. That piece may be found here.

The Dodd-Frank Act, enacted in 2010, required the SEC to adopt rules to prohibit use of the Rule 506 exemptions under Regulation D for securities offerings in which certain “bad actors” are involved, whether or not general solicitation or general advertising are used in the offering. Rule 506 is the exemption from registration requirements used in many private offerings, including most startup financings. To fulfill this Dodd-Frank requirement, the SEC has adopted rules that disqualify an issuer from selling securities in reliance upon the Rule 506 exemption if the issuer, its board members, certain of its officers and its large shareholders, among others covered by the rule, have experienced a “disqualifying event.” This is similar to existing bad actor rules, such as those found in Rule 505 of Regulation D, which relies on the disqualification provisions set forth in Rule 262 of Regulation A.

Disqualifying events include criminal convictions in connection with sales of securities, certain SEC civil and administrative actions and certain other orders from financial service industry regulatory authorities. If the issuer or other covered person is deemed a bad actor under this rule, the Rule 506 exemption will not be available to the issuer.

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New SEC General Solicitation Rules Go Into Effect

Posted in For Entrepreneurs and Companies, For Investors and Fund Managers, Fund Managers, News and Recent Events, SEC, Startups

Megan Muir.jpgCONTRIBUTED BY
Megan Muir
megan.muir@dlapiper.com

Earlier this summer, together with some of my partners within DLA Piper (Christopher Paci, Jason Harmon, Darryl Steinhause and Wesley Nissen), I wrote an article about new SEC regulations concerning private offerings. The final rules issued in July 2013 by the SEC go into effect on September 23, 2013. Below is a summary of the changes with respect to general solicitation in such rules. The full article contains a discussion of other regulatory issues that should be considered and new “bad actor” rules, as well as a discussion of certain proposed private offering rule changes that are not yet final. That piece may be found here.

On July 10, 2013 the US Securities and Exchange Commission adopted much-anticipated amendments to its regulations on private offerings under Rule 506 of Regulation D of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, that lift the more than 80-year ban on general solicitation and advertising for certain purchasers, as mandated by Section 201(a) of the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act (popularly called the JOBS Act).

Beginning September 23, 2013, these changes will permit issuers to use advertising and other forms of mass communication to sell securities solely to “accredited investors” under Rule 506 of Regulation D. However, these amendments also include several new requirements and procedures. You will want to be aware of these changes before you launch a general solicitation campaign.

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Trados: Four Key Takeaways for Boards & Investors

Posted in For Entrepreneurs and Companies, For Investors and Fund Managers, IPOs & M&A, Startups

Megan Muir.jpgCONTRIBUTED BY
Megan Muir
megan.muir@dlapiper.com

As we mentioned in this post earlier this month, the Delaware Court of Chancery has issued its decision in the matter of In re Trados Incorporated Shareholder Litigation, C.A. No. 1512-VC (August 16, 2013), in which it addresses extensively a variety of issues that directors and investors will want to consider in similar circumstances.  In the opinion, by Vice Chancellor J. Travis Laster, the court found that although the preferred stockholders received all of the merger consideration in an end-stage transaction and the common stockholders received nothing, and although the Trados directors failed to demonstrate that they had followed a fair process, the transaction was still “entirely fair” to the common stockholders because the common stock had no monetary value before the merger.  You can read our detailed alert here by DLA Piper partners John J. Gilluly III and John Reed, which provides background for the case and includes additional detail regarding the four key takeaways from the opinion listed below.

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Corporate Venture Capital – Big Second Quarter

Posted in For Entrepreneurs and Companies, For Investors and Fund Managers, News and Recent Events, Startups, VC & Private Equity

Megan Muir.jpgCONTRIBUTED BY
Megan Muir
megan.muir@dlapiper.com 

CB Insights has published summary data regarding Q2 2013 corporate venture capital investing, showing CVC investment in 126 deals with total funding of US$1.7 billion. This marks a large increase over the past two quarters (both at US$1.4B) and an even larger increase year-over-year (with Q2 2012 at US$1.2B).  The five most active CVC investors listed are: Google Ventures, Intel Capital, Qualcomm Ventures, In-Q-Tel and Novartis Venture Funds.  A full report is available to paid subscribers.

 CVC Q2 2013 - CB Insights sm.jpg

Angel Investment Trends: Q1 2013 Halo Report

Posted in For Investors and Fund Managers, News and Recent Events, VC & Private Equity

Megan Muir.jpgCONTRIBUTED BY
Megan Muir
megan.muir@dlapiper.com 

The Q1 2013 Halo Report report has been released by The Angel Resource Institute (ARI), Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) and CB Insights.  The report, available for download here, is a a national survey of angel group investment activity.

Highlights of the Q113 report include the following:

  • Round sizes trended up to a median of $680K per deal, a 5 quarter high;
  • Pre-money valuations remained at $2.5 million; and
  • Internet, healthcare and mobile deals attracted the most angel interest (72% of Q1 deals, obtaining 64% of the angel dollars).

Interestingly, in Q1 2013, for the first time startups in the Southwest US received slightly more investment dollars than those in California.  Relative to Q1 2012, Great Plains and New York area companies saw the largest increase in angel group funded deals.  The survey also found, not surprisingly, that most angels invest in their home states.

Download the full report here

 

Recent Venture Capital Trends: CB Insights Q2 2013 Data

Posted in For Investors and Fund Managers, IPOs & M&A, VC & Private Equity

Megan Muir.jpgCONTRIBUTED BY
Megan Muir
megan.muir@dlapiper.com 

CB Insights has published summary data regarding recent venture capital trends, together with a full report available to paid subscribers.  In terms of investments by VCs, the report indicates that US$7.0B was invested in 807 deals in the second quarter of 2013, representing a small increase in dollars invested (versus US$6.9B in first quarter) but a decrease in the number of deals of approximately 4%. The chart below shows quarterly dollars invested and deal volume going back to fourth quarter of 2010.  See the full release by CB Insights here.

CB Insights Q2 2013 VC TVA.png

SEC Issues Rules Lifting Ban on General Solicitation in Unregistered Fundraising

Posted in For Entrepreneurs and Companies, Fundraising, News and Recent Events, SEC, Startups

Megan Muir.jpgCONTRIBUTED BY
Megan Muir
megan.muir@dlapiper.com 

Ban on General Solicitation Lifted with Respect to Accredited Investors

Today, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) adopted new rules to lift the ban on general solicitation of funds or general advertising for certain private offerings of securities.  Once the rules become effective (60 days after publication in the Federal Register), provided that certain requirements are met, startups, fund managers and other companies will be able to utilize general advertising to offer to sell stock to “accredited investors” as defined in Rule 501 of Regulation D of the Securities Act of 1933 (typically wealthy individuals with liquid net worth in excess of $1 million or investment funds; see our discussion of the recently revised accredited investor standards here as well as information on the SEC’s site http://www.sec.gov/answers/accred.htm). 

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2013 Private Equity Survey Indicates Cautious Optimism

Posted in For Investors and Fund Managers, News and Recent Events, VC & Private Equity

Megan Muir.jpgCONTRIBUTED BY
Megan Muir
megan.muir@dlapiper.com 

The 2013 Private Equity Survey of McGladrey, done by the research unit of SourceMedia, indicates growth and optimism in the PE sector although the funds remain cautious about the broader economy. 

Some findings of the 2013 survey:

  • Funds see “management capabilities and effective strategy and execution as primary drivers of successful portfolios.”
  • Outdated IT systems, under-qualified IT personnel and inadequate infrastructure become apparent following acquisitions, often impacting critical areas of the business.
  • Active integration leadership and experienced team members are important to success.
  • Firms frequently find weaknesses in financial reporting (including the frequency, accuracy and efficiency of reporting as well as the tracking of operational metrics).

Download the full survey report here.

Pitching Angel Investors: Advice from Jonathan Sposato

Posted in For Entrepreneurs and Companies, Startups

Megan Muir.jpgCONTRIBUTED BY
Megan Muir
megan.muir@dlapiper.com 

Investor and serial entrepreneur Jonathan Sposato has seen enough startup pitches in his day to know what he likes. In this Geekwire post from earlier this year, he shares his three favorite things to hear from founders seeking an investment. One key piece of advice from Joanathan that is simple and straightforward: your investors want to know their money is going to be put to good use.

With that in mind, he advises founders to “speak provocatively and ambitiously about their concept,” to share names of other well-respected investors who are already on board, and to provide a detailed plan for using the funds they are requesting. 

Jonathan’s suggested approach in one sentence:

Please tell me: How you’re going to crush it, who else agrees with you besides me, and how you are going to spend my money.

From MSFT to VC: Ted Kummert

Posted in For Investors and Fund Managers, VC & Private Equity, Venture Spotlight - Individuals in the News

Thumbnail image for Ted Kummert.jpgMegan Muir.jpgCONTRIBUTED BY
Megan Muir
@megan_muir 

Q&A: Why this former Microsoft exec wanted to become a venture capitalist  Ted Kummert announced on February 5th that he would be leaving his longtime position as a Microsoft executive to take a new role at venture capital firm, Madrona Venture Group. In this Q&A with John Cook of Geekwire, he answers questions about his experience and what caused him to take the leap into VC. “I…look forward to spending time, more broadly, across the Madrona portfolio of companies. I don’t tend to single out. I see so much opportunity, whether we are talking about consumer or we are talking about B2B — I think there is significant opportunity across all of that space,” Kummert said.

He added that his interest is especially drawn towards innovation in the cloud, explaining that “The cloud is really one of those things that is going to change things for the enterprise.” As he moves on from a long career at Microsoft, most recently as head of the company’s Data Platform group, Kummert is looking forward to becoming part of Seattle’s flourishing startup ecosystem. “It is just a fantastic thing to be a part of.”

Women in Tech: Dr. Eve Riskin, Professor and Assoc. Dean of Engineering

Posted in For Entrepreneurs and Companies, Venture Spotlight - Individuals in the News

Eve Riskin.pngMegan Muir.jpgCONTRIBUTED BY
Megan Muir
@megan_muir 

Dr. Eve Riskin is one woman in tech who is actively working to “change the ratio” by increasing the number of women faculty in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).  As Associate Dean of Academic Affairs for the University of Washington College of Engineering, Professor of Electrical Engineering, and Director of the ADVANCE Center for Institutional Change, she is a leader and a mentor for other women considering academic STEM careers (or second careers, following work in industry).

Eve received her bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering from MIT and her graduate degrees in EE from Stanford.  She joined the EE Department at the University of Washington (UW) in 1990.  As Director of UW ADVANCE, Eve works on mentoring and leadership development programs aimed to increase the participation of women faculty in STEM fields.  Her research interests include image compression and image processing, with a focus on developing video compression algorithms to allow for cell-phone transmission of American Sign Language.  Eve was awarded a National Science Foundation Young Investigator Award, a Sloan Research Fellowship, the 2006 WEPAN University Change Agent award, the 2006 Hewlett-Packard Harriett B. Rigas Award, and the 2007 University of Washington David B. Thorud Leadership Award.  She is a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers

Read on as Eve discusses her career path, provides advice for young women interested in STEM fields and shares her suggestion that you find a “ventor.”

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Women in Tech: Jenny Lam, Award Winning Designer

Posted in For Entrepreneurs and Companies, Venture Spotlight - Individuals in the News

Megan Muir.jpgCONTRIBUTED BY
Megan Muir
@megan_muir 

Thumbnail image for Jenny Lam TVA.jpg

Jenny Lam is a co-founder of Jackson Fish Market, a small software startup focused on making beautiful software experiences. The company has shipped over 20 software products in the past 5 years. Their latest product is A Story Before Bed - the first (and only) service that lets parents, grandparents, and children record video of themselves reading children’s books and play it back as often as they like on the Mac, PC, or iPad.

Before Jackson Fish Market, Jenny worked at Microsoft from 2001–2007 as Creative Director of the Windows User Experience team. When she isn’t running her startup, she serves on the board as Experience Director of the AIGA Seattle chapter (the professional association for design) and works with national and local organizations to foster the next generation of creative design talent headed for the tech industry. She was named one of the Top 100 Most Influential Women in Technology by the Puget Sound Business Journal and was awarded Seattle 2.0 Best Startup Designer in 2010.  You can follow Jenny on Twitter (@helveticagirl).

In this piece, Jenny answers our questions about her work, how she wound up doing what she does so well and her thoughts about women in tech.

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Take our Survey – 2012 Tech Leaders Forecast

Posted in For Entrepreneurs and Companies, For Investors and Fund Managers

DLA Piper is currently fielding its 2012 DLA Piper Technology Leaders Forecast Survey, which examines the thoughts and opinions of technology, private equity and venture capital leaders on a range of critical issues impacting the technology sector.  The survey includes these topics:

  • Who will win the Presidential election? 
  • What impact will the election result have on policy and the tech economy? 
  • What impact could the “Fiscal Cliff” have on the global economy? 
  • How will China’s role in the technology industry evolve? 
  • What are the most promising and challenging areas for the tech economy?

DLA Piper is seeking to offer insights on these and other critical questions.  We invite you to share your thoughts with us by filling out this brief survey – click here to take the survey.  In return, we will provide you with an advance look at the results right here on The Venture Alley in early October.  The full DLA Piper Technology Leaders Forecast Report will be issued on October 9th.

Brittany Wenger Wins Grand Prize of Google Science Fair

Posted in News and Recent Events, Venture Spotlight - Individuals in the News

Brittany Wenger 3.jpgMegan Muir.jpgCONTRIBUTED BY
Megan Muir
megan.muir@dlapiper.com 

Brittany Wenger, a 17-year-old from Lakewood Ranch, Florida, is the Grand Prize winner of the Google Science Fair for her cloud-accessible application that assists doctors in diagnosing breast cancer. Check out her project entitled the Global Neural Network Cloud Service for Breast Cancer. Good on Google for sponsoring the competition, complete with scholarships and other terrific awards, (and awesome Lego trophies). I hope we see more from Ms. Wenger and her fellow impressive Google Science Fair entrants in the future.

Mary Meeker – Forbes.com Interview and Profile

Posted in For Investors and Fund Managers, VC & Private Equity, Venture Spotlight - Individuals in the News

Mary Meeker 2.jpgMegan Muir.jpgCONTRIBUTED BY
Megan Muir
megan.muir@dlapiper.com 

Eric Savitz of Forbes has a lengthy interview with Mary Meeker up on the Forbes.com site, a companion piece to his profile of Ms. Meeker in the August 6 print edition (which you can read online here).  In the interview, she talks about venture capital, her work investing a $1 billion tech growth fund for Kleiner Perkins (half of which has been deployed to date), the influential reports she produced as an early Internet analyst, and some of the companies that interest her now.  She is someone who has seen – up close – the many ups, downs and zigzag moves of the tech industry as online and mobile technologies become more and more pervasive and more integral to business and our personal lives. 

VC Funding Levels Highest Since 2001 – Q2 2012 Report

Posted in For Investors and Fund Managers, News and Recent Events, VC & Private Equity

Megan Muir.jpgCONTRIBUTED BY
Megan Muir
megan.muir@dlapiper.com 

CB Insights released their Q2 2012 Quarterly VC Report today, showing $8.1B was invested in 812 deals, the highest funding level since 2001.  One interesting trend in Q2 this is year is that 20% of the VC deals were for “seed” round investments (very early stage deals, usually with relatively small investment amounts).  The mobile and Internet sectors were very strong, including a bump in photo and video related companies (perhaps post-Instagram excitement).  And on a local note, Washington State had its highest quarter in over a year, with dollars invested up 136% from Q2 2011.  You can access the full report at CB Insights (you need to sign up for a free account).  The chart below shows VC activity over the past 2 years.

2012q2-venture-capital-trend 75.jpg

 

Yahoo Reaches into Google – Marissa Mayer New CEO

Posted in For Entrepreneurs and Companies, News and Recent Events, Venture Spotlight - Individuals in the News

Marissa Mayer Yahoo.jpgMegan Muir.jpgCONTRIBUTED BY
Megan Muir
megan.muir@dlapiper.com 

The short list of Silicon Valley female CEOs at well-known tech companies just got a little longer.  Andrew Ross Sorkin and Evelyn M. Rusli of The New York Times Dealbook broke the story today that Yahoo has named Marissa Mayer as CEO (its fifth CEO in five years).  Mayer comes to Yahoo from a prominent executive role at Google, having been hired originally as employee number 20 and the first female engineer at Google.  Yahoo’s press release announcing Ms. Mayer’s appointment as President, CEO and a member of the board of directors, states that the “appointment of Ms. Mayer, a leading consumer internet executive, signals a renewed focus on product innovation to drive user experience and advertising revenue”.  For today at least, all eyes are on Yahoo.

 

Friday the 13th Uber-Style

Posted in For Entrepreneurs and Companies, News and Recent Events, Startups

Megan Muir.jpgCONTRIBUTED BY
Megan Muir
megan.muir@dlapiper.com 

Friday the 13th was sweet instead of scary this month, with Uber (on-demand car service provider) delivering on-demand frozen treats to customers with the tap of the ice cream cone logo.  TVA Uber Delivery Kerra and Mark 7-13-12.jpgMy colleagues gave this a try and sure enough, in a short while Mark the Ice Cream Man rolled up in an ice cream truck (more like a postal delivery Jeep-type vehicle, actually) and delivered ice cream bars and popsicles as well as some Uber swag. 

 Uber Delivery Elizabeth - Kerra - Mark 7-13-12 sm.jpg 

 

In the photos, you can see some of the happy DLA Piper folks (Elizabeth and Kerra) along with Mark the Ice Cream Man, all outside of the Columbia Center in downtown Seattle.

Where’s The Man Who’s Paying For All Of This?

Posted in For Entrepreneurs and Companies

Vanessa Fox July 2012.jpgVanessa Fox, CEO of Nine by Blue (software, training, and strategic consulting relating to search), has a great post on her blog today about why she is volunteering as a coach for Seattle Startup Weekend’s Women’s Edition.  Her key points:

  • Our Network is Based On Who We Know (And Who Our Network Knows)
  • Even Without Discrimination, There Can Be Unconscious Bias
  • You Feel More Confident When You Feel Less Alone

Her story explaining the title makes me laugh every time I think of it.  And her post reminds me why it is worth taking the time (time I may not think I have) to introduce a female colleague to a client or someone in the community, to help build her network and to let others know about her talents.  It’s something easy for men and women alike to do; it’s just a matter of remembering to do it.  So next time you are scheduling lunch with a customer or client or someone important in your network, consider including a woman in your organization who might benefit from meeting them.  The more positive connections to your organization, the better, so you will likely benefit as well.

Read Vanessa’s full post here.

 

Ten Tips for Navigating Defamation Issues in Social Media

Posted in For Entrepreneurs and Companies, IP/Privacy/Social Media

Online and social media have revolutionized the way companies interact with their customers – allowing them to target customer interests and engage customers much more directly.

Entering into the world of social media, however, may pose reputational challenges. On-line stores and e-commerce platforms encourage customers to post reviews about the products they offer. Numerous companies directly prompt their customers to “like” them on Facebook or to comment on Twitter about their consumer experiences. But what if the responses customers post are less than glowing? What if a company is the target of defamatory falsehoods? Many companies simply are not prepared to address the consequences of such behaviors.

Writing for The Social Media Monthly, DLA lawyers Mary Gately and Victoria Bruno look at the speech and defamation issues companies should be aware of in an age when e-commerce meets social media.  Read their piece online here or download the article in PDF format here.