17 Sep 2021

Around the house: Analog names new CLO; biotech heavyweight appointed as Flagship Pioneering's first GC

This week's roundup of top in-house hires also features appointments at WeCommerce, Transfix, Neptune Wellness, the Network Advertising Initiative

Analog Devices' new CLO Janene Asgeirsson Image courtesy of Analog Devices

Analog move

Analog Devices has hired Janene Asgeirsson as its new senior vice president, chief legal officer and corporate secretary.

She has moved over to the Wilmington, Massachusetts-based company after it closed last month on a $21bn acquisition of Maxim Integrated Products, a rival in the consolidating semiconductor sector.

“I’m excited to join the Analog team at such a pivotal time for the company and the semiconductor industry,” Asgeirsson said in a statement, adding that she looks forward “to partnering with a world-class leadership team to advance Analog’s vision of solving the world’s toughest engineering challenges.”

Asgeirsson’s move comes as a global microchip shortage has affected everything from mobile phones to cars, with Analog CEO Vincent Roche saying in an interview earlier this year with Bloomberg News that companies like his stood to benefit from increased production.

Asgeirsson joins directly from a role as chief legal and compliance officer and secretary at Acacia Communications. During her tenure at the Maynard, Massachusetts-based optical components maker she oversaw its IPO and its $4.5bn sale to Cisco Systems, which closed in March.  

Prior to joining Acacia as general counsel in 2015, Asgeirsson spent more than three years as counsel at Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr in Boston and two years as senior corporate counsel for Entropic Communications, a San Diego-based provider of semiconductor solutions that was acquired by MaxLinear in 2015.

At Analog, Asgeirsson will be responsible for overseeing company’s legal matters, including M&A, litigation, intellectual property, governance, compliance and corporate matters. She will also be responsible for the company’s internal audit and risk functions in her capacity as chief risk officer.

Biotech heavy hitter for Flagship

Kathy Biberstein is set to join life sciences venture capital company Flagship Pioneering as its first general counsel next week, overseeing legal, corporate, IP, compliance and related matters.

A veteran of the legal functions in the biotech and biopharma industries, Biberstein previously spent fifteen years at listed biotech company Alkermes, where she established the legal function and served as executive vice president, chief administrative officer, chief compliance officer, chief risk officer and chief legal officer over the course of her tenure.

Her prior experience includes serving as general counsel at biotech company Ares-Serono International in Switzerland and in the life science law practice at Crowell & Morning in Washington DC. She also served as chair of the BIO General Counsel Committee Executive Board, reviewing legal policy issues relevant to the industry.

"Kathy will bring tremendous expertise, knowledge, and leadership serving as a senior advisor to me and to our ecosystem of internal and spun-out companies," said Noubar Afeyan, founder and CEO of Flagship Pioneering. "Her appointment as Flagship's first general counsel reflects the growing scale of Flagship's innovation and company creation activities, and she will be a valued partner in creating and implementing a best-in-class legal function to serve the needs of our growing enterprise."

Biberstein also has a degree in mechanical and electrical engineering and began her career as an automotive engineer for General Motors in 1977, working on an early prototype of Chevrolet's all electric vehicle before qualifying as a lawyer.

SEC veteran for WeCommerce

Former SEC lawyer Susan Min has become general counsel and corporate secretary for WeCommerce, a holding company that owns a family of companies and brands in the Shopify partner ecosystem.

The Victoria, Canada-based company began trading its shares on the TSX Venture Exchange last December and announced in August that it had closed on its acquisition of Archetype Themes, which develops themes used by Shopify merchants.

Min has joined WeCommerce this week, bringing with her more than 20 years of legal experience in advisory, deal making and corporate governance. She joined Goldman Sachs 2011 as executive director and senior counsel in Hong Kong and later served as global head of the risk and policy group in New York.

Prior to that she spent three years at Allen & Overy as a registered foreign lawyer in Hong Kong and had brief stints as a senior associate at Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati and DLA Piper. In private practice she represented public and private companies, sovereigns and quasi-sovereign entities in capital market transactions.

Earlier Min spent five years at the US Securities and Exchange Commission’s division of corporation finance, where her role included reviewing IPOs, mergers and shelf offerings of Fortune 1000 companies to provide investor protection.

WeCommerce has also announced the hiring of David Charron as chief financial officer effective and Jordan Taub as director of corporate development.

“Alongside Dave, we’re pleased to welcome Susan and Jordan,” said Alex Persson, president and interim CFO of WeCommerce. “We’ve significantly expanded WeCommerce over the past nine months since becoming a public company, and our expanded leadership team will help take advantage of the growth opportunities in front of us as we continue to build the leading provider of software and digital tools for merchants in the Shopify ecosystem.”

Advance lawyer to Transfix

Transfix, a freight marketplace connecting shippers to a national network of carriers that counts Anheuser-Busch, Unilever and Target among its clients, has found a new general counsel in Nicholas Smolansky.

As well as overseeing the New York-based company’s legal and regulatory affairs as part of the leadership team, Smolansky is expected to play a critical role in strategic development.

"Nick's diverse experience working both in-house at leading companies and at a globally recognised law firm makes him a strong addition to our team," said Lily Shen, CEO and president of Transfix. "He will bring unique insight and play a vital role in our upcoming plans for strategic growth and expansion."

Smolansky brings nearly 20 years of legal experience to his new role, having most recently served as VP and deputy general counsel for Advance, which owns and invests in companies spanning media, entertainment and technology. He was VP and chief counsel, investments and M&A at Charter Communications before that, having begun his career in the corporate department at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton and Garrison.

"I'm thrilled to be joining the team at Transfix during this exciting time of growth and development," said Smolansky. "The company continues to deliver on its vision to build a freight platform that brings together the world's top shippers and carriers, unlocking massive opportunity and efficiency across the supply chain."

Smolansky’s hire comes on the heels of two other leadership appointments this year, with Christian Lee being named chief financial officer and Sophie Dabbs chief commercial officer.

New legal eagle for Neptune Wellness

Laval, Quebec-based Neptune Wellness Solutions announced John Wirt will lead its legal department as its new general counsel.

Wirt joins the Nasdaq-listed company, which provides nutraceuticals, legal cannabis and hemp products, after nearly four years as president and general counsel for boxing promotions company Epic Sports & Entertainment in Las Vegas. Prior to that, he was CEO and GC for global sports promotion company Square Ring.

Neptune president and CEO Michael Cammarata said that Wirt’s legal experience in highly-regulated global industries combined with his financial acumen as a certified public accountant and experience as audit chair of Interactive Television Networks, a public company, make him “uniquely suited to build and direct an industry-leading legal department.”

Neptune's legal team was also recently boosted by the addition of Gary Kaminsky as senior vice president, compliance and legal affairs. Kaminsky spent more than 30 years as a regulatory compliance attorney, including as an enforcement attorney for the US Securities Exchange Commission and as lead compliance counsel for multiple multi-state operators in the US cannabis industry. According to Cammarata, he is expected “to build out the compliance processes required to operate in highly regulated industries such as food, beverages and cannabis."

He added: “Additionally, by bolstering our internal legal department, Neptune will realise significant efficiencies on external legal resources."

Wirt began his legal career as an associate at Jenner & Block in 1989 and followed that with three years as an associate at Sidley & Austin before joining Florida-based boxing event promoter Don King Productions as assistant general counsel in 1996.

Privacy expert for NAI

The Network Advertising Initiative (NAI), a Washington DC-based industry trade group that develops self-regulatory standards for online advertising, has Farah Zaman as its new vice-president and general counsel. 

In her new role, Zaman is expected to develop strategies to help NAI members operate at a time when growing emphasis on privacy has resulted in a range of new and proposed solutions for the digital advertising industry.

She will advise the NAI’s more than 100 members on compliance with current and evolving laws and regulations, and how they intersect with the NAI Code of Conduct. She is also expected help the NAI engage with policymakers and regulators at federal, state and international level.

“Farah has a rich background in privacy and significant experience with ad tech, having served in both public and private sector roles,” said NAI President and CEO Leigh Freund. “She is the perfect person to help the NAI counsel our members as they work with the rest of the digital advertising ecosystem to enhance privacy protections for consumers. Farah will provide NAI members with unparalleled insight and advice from her extensive experience in the industry.”

Zaman formerly served as the chief privacy officer at Meredith Corporation for two years, responsible for leading Meredith’s privacy and first-party data strategy. Before that she served as senior global data privacy counsel for Colgate Palmolive, where she led the global data privacy program addressing employee privacy, and was senior counsel of privacy for Nielsen’s global privacy program.

Zaman began her career in New York City government, serving as a post-graduate legal fellow in the mayor's office for international affairs and subsequently as an agency attorney in the office of data privacy for the department of social services.

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