Around the house: LGBTQ social app Grindr hires first GC, ONEOK replaces retired GC with energy industry veteran

This week’s roundup of top in-house moves also includes appointments at PensionBee, Faraday Future, WSFS Bank and Nixon Peabody

Zak Katz, Grindr’s new GC Photo courtesy of Grindr

Grindr hires former FCC lawyer as inaugural GC

LGBTQ social network Grindr has appointed Zac Katz as general counsel, a newly created position.

Katz joins from digital education provider Age of Learning, where he was head of legal and corporate affairs. At Grindr, in addition to his legal responsibilities, he will also serve as head of global affairs where he will be responsible for building the department and providing support to its Grindr for Equality initiative. He will report directly to CEO George Arison. The legal team was previously led by Bill Shafton, vice president for business and legal affairs, who remains in that role.

Katz joins alongside two other senior hires – Tristan Pineiro, vice president of brand and communications, and Solmaz Shariat Torbaghan, director of artificial intelligence and machine learning.

Arison said: “These critical hires reflect increasing diversity among our leadership team, which is already among the most diverse of any public company. I’m proud that we are continuing to attract such a high level of talented leaders as we connect the LGBTQ community and make progress toward our vision of being the global gayborhood in your pocket.”

Katz spent nine years at Age of Learning, having previously been at the Federal Communications Commission during the Obama administration in a range of roles, including chief of staff and chief counsel. He also had a brief spell in the White House as deputy special counsel to the president. Prior to that he worked in private practice at Munger Tolles & Olson, having earlier clerked for appeals court judge Kim Wardlaw.

Grindr has grown to roughly 12 million monthly active users worldwide since it was launched in 2009. It listed on the New York Stock Exchange in November year.

ONEOK hires experienced energy counsel to fill vacant GC role

US energy services business ONEOK has hired Lyndon Taylor as its chief legal counsel, replacing general counsel Stephen Allen, who retired in August after 17 years with the company.

Taylor joins from Devon Energy, where he spent more than 15 years, 14 of them as chief legal and administrative officer overseeing all legal, corporate governance and government affairs matters. At ONEOK, he will oversee the company’s legal department and also serve as assistant secretary, reporting directly to CEO and president Pierce Norton.

Norton said: “Lyndon’s legal expertise and experience in leading and developing teams with a shared vision of creating value will serve us and our stakeholders well.”

Prior to joining Devon Energy, Taylor spent almost two decades at Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom, more than 12 of them as partner. He started his career at legacy firm Watson & McKenzie in Oklahoma City. His expertise spans capital markets, M&A, regulatory and employment matters, as well as IP and litigation.

NYSE-listed ONEOK provides midstream oil and gas services, predominantly transporting natural gas and natural gas liquids. Earlier this year it agreed to buy US oil pipeline operator Magellan Midstream Partners in a deal worth around $18.8bn, which will now enable ONEOK to transport refined products and crude oil.

PensionBee rehires GC after sovereign wealth fund stint

UK online pension provider PensionBee has appointed Matthew Cavanagh as chief legal officer and general counsel.

Cavanagh returns for a second time at PensionBee having left in 2015 to join the Qatar Investment Authority, where he was executive legal counsel. He will head up PensionBee Group’s legal function and provide legal advice on all aspects of the business.

Romi Savova, CEO of PensionBee, said: “We’re delighted to welcome back Matthew to our team at PensionBee. Matthew brings a wealth of valuable legal experience gained through his years working in various institutions around the world, in addition to existing knowledge of PensionBee’s mission and values.”

Prior to his first spell at PensionBee, Cavanagh was a partner at King & Wood Mallesons. He was also previously GC and partner at credit investor Christofferson Robb & Company (CRC) and an associate at Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom before that.

He said: “I’m thrilled to rejoin PensionBee, having been a member of the initial team following its inception. Over the years, I’ve closely followed the company’s outstanding growth story including its listing on the London Stock Exchange. PensionBee is a true fintech success story for the UK, providing a real alternative for consumers in the UK pensions sector.”

EV start-up Faraday Future hires former O’Melveny lawyer as global GC

US electric vehicle maker start-up Faraday Future Intelligent Electric (FF) has named Scott Graziano as its global general counsel.

Graziano joins from HealthPeak Properties, where he was deputy GC. At FF, he will be responsible for advising the business on all legal matters. He will also serve on the company’s executive leadership team.

Xuefeng Chen, global CEO of FF, said: “Mr. Graziano will be an integral member of our leadership team and brings diversified experience to FF at a pivotal time for the company… Scott comes to FF with a wealth of public company legal expertise. His knowledge of complex global business and legal issues will make him a valuable addition to FF’s senior leadership team.”

Prior to joining HealthPeak, Graziano had a brief spell at Western Digital as a senior legal counsel. He previously worked in private practice as a counsel at O’Melveny & Myers and as an associate at Shearman & Sterling in its capital markets group.

FF manufactures luxury electric cars, with its FF 91 2.0 Futurist Alliance model available for pre-order at a base price of $309,000.

WSFS Bank appoints experienced banking counsel as commercial GC

US regional financial institution WSFS Bank has hired Jeffrey Goodman as general counsel.

Goodman joins from Wells Fargo, where he was a contract counsel. At WSFS, he will report to chief legal officer Lisa Washington and provide legal support and advice to the bank’s commercial division.

The bank also hired Alyson Beasley Bradley as its chief auditor and Frank McGrane as its deputy chief credit officer.

Christine Davis, chief risk officer, said: “Risk management is integral to every aspect of WSFS’s operation. These accomplished new associates represent our ongoing investment across several areas of risk. Their expertise and decades of experience will support and safeguard customers and associates across the company.”

Prior to joining Wells Fargo, Goodman was also contract counsel at Japanese bank MUFG and Newtek Business Services Corp. He was also previously associate counsel at DLP Capital, having earlier led his own general practice. Before that he was senior counsel at Santander Bank and an associate counsel at GMAC Mortgage and American Business Financial Services, among others. He started his career in private practice at Scherline & Associates.

WSFS Bank mainly operates in the Pennsylvania and Delaware region.

Nixon Peabody hires GC from

US law firm Nixon Peabody has hired William Connolly as its next general counsel and chief legal officer.

Connolly joins from compensation data business, where he was also GC. He brings with him more than 25 years of in-house and law firm experience. Nixon Peabody said Connolly is well versed in the legal risks and opportunities facing companies, and his experience dovetails with the firm’s wide range of practices and full-service legal offerings.

Stephen Zubiago, Nixon Peabody’s CEO and managing partner, said: “Bill’s proactive approach to risk management will help ensure we provide clients with the highest quality service to achieve their goals. As we evolve our office of general counsel to support current and future needs of the firm, Bill’s diverse range of experience is a significant asset.”

Prior to his time at, Connolly spent 13 years at State Street, where he was a senior litigation counsel. Before then he worked in private practice, spending four years at Goodwin Procter as well as six years at legacy firm Hutchins Wheeler & Dittmar, which later merged with Nixon Peabody. He started his legal career as a paralegal at legacy firm Hare and Chaffin.

Email your news and story ideas to: