Around the house: Taylor Swift calls on Venable for new GC; Mastercard taps US chipmaker for CLO

This week’s roundup of top in-house moves also includes appointments at Northrop Grumman, May Mobility, Angel Oak and Momnt
New York, NY, USA - December 13, 2019: Taylor Swift performs at the 2019 Z100 Jingle Ball at Madison Square Garden.

Taylor Swift performs at the 2019 Z100 Jingle Ball at Madison Square Garden Brian Friedman; Shutterstock

Taylor Swift’s company hires Venable partner as GC

International pop star Taylor Swift’s company 13 Management has hired Venable partner Douglas Baldridge as its new general counsel, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Baldridge successfully helped Swift win a sexual-harassment trial against US local radio personality David Mueller in 2017 after a jury found that the DJ assaulted Swift by groping her. Baldridge also helped defend Swift in a trademark dispute with clothing company Blue Sphere, which was settled out of court. He will replace current GC Jesse ‘Jay’ Schaudies, who is retiring in the autumn, the WSJ reported.

Baldridge has been with Venable since 2006, most recently serving as chair for commercial litigation for the South. He has spent more than two decades litigating a range of disputes touching on publishers’ rights, IP, false advertising and unfair competition, among many other areas. He was also previously a partner at Howrey and has served as GC for duPont Publishing, according to his LinkedIn profile.

Schaudies is retiring after more than 11 years at the company. He was previously vice president for global strategy and transformation at staffing and recruitment firm ManpowerGroup and executive vice president at Randstad USA. He started his legal career at legacy firm Troutman Sanders back in 1979, working his way up to partner and head of its labour and employment law practice.

Mastercard ends search for new legal chief with Micron hire

Global payments giant Mastercard has named Rob Beard as its new chief legal officer and general counsel, replacing Richard Verma who left the company in March.

Beard joins from US chipmaker Micron Technology where he was GC and company secretary, leading its global legal, IP, ethics and compliance functions. He first joined Micron as its primary M&A lawyer and helped its corporate development team on transactions in Japan, Taiwan, Europe, China and Singapore. He was also instrumental in negotiating a favourable incentive package from the state of New York to build a $100bn semiconductor factory near Syracuse.

At Mastercard, he will also serve as head of global policy and oversee all of the company’s legal, public policy and regulatory matters, as well as managing its litigation teams around the world. He will report to chief administrative officer Tim Murphy, who himself served as GC between 2014 and 2021.

Murphy said: “[Beard’s] broad international and policy experience, combined with his expertise in business and law, make him an excellent partner and counsellor in driving meaningful transformation.”

Beard spent nine years at Micron in a number of roles, most recently as GC. He was also previously vice president for legal, corporate and global operations, legal chief of staff and associate GC. Prior to his time at Micron, Beard was briefly corporate counsel at Amazon Lab126 having been an associate at Weil Gotshal & Manges and Shearman & Sterling before that.

Verma spent about two-and-a-half years at Mastercard before leaving to join the US Department of State as deputy secretary of state for management and resources. Prior to his time at Mastercard he was vice chairman of strategic advisory firm The Asia Group and before that a US ambassador in New Delhi. He also had three separate stints in private practice at Steptoe & Johnson.

Northrop promotes associate GC as legal head announces retirement

US aerospace and defence giant Northrop Grumman has named Kathryn Simpson as its next general counsel, replacing Sheila Cheston who is retiring in December.

Simpson – who has been at the company for more than a decade, most recently as associate GC and sector counsel for its mission systems business – will assume the role at the end of October. In her new position, Simpson will oversee all Northrop’s legal matters and will report directly to CEO, chair and president Kathy Warden.

Warden said: “Kathy is a seasoned and respected general counsel and leader, and I’m excited to have her join our senior management team. She brings broad-based legal and strategic expertise to the role, and extensive experience working in the aerospace and defence industry, all of which will serve her and our company well as the leader of our global legal team.”

Prior to joining Northrop as deputy GC in 2014, Simpson was vice president for legal, corporate transactions and governance at Raytheon (now RTX), where she worked for almost 18 years. Prior to that she was an attorney advisor at the US International Trade Commission and an associate at Foley and Lardner.

Cheston is stepping down after just over three years at Northrop. She was previously GC at BAE Systems, having joined from Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr, where she was chair of its international aviation, defence and aerospace group. She was also previously GC of the US Air Force and served as a special associate counsel to former US president Bill Clinton in 1994.

Warden said: “[Cheston] provided outstanding leadership and counsel and has been instrumental in instilling a culture of strong ethics. We wish her all the best in her retirement.”

May Mobility names ex-Orrick partner as new GC

US autonomous vehicle tech developer May Mobility has hired Sid Venkatesan as its new general counsel to help support its next phase of growth.

Venkatesan joins from self-driving truck company Embark Trucks where he was chief legal officer. He brings with him two decades of legal experience across litigation, transaction and corporate law within the tech and autonomous vehicle industries. At May Mobility, he will handle all legal issues and help protect the company’s IP and data and ensure it remains compliant as the business scales.

Edwin Olson, CEO of May Mobility, said: “Deploying autonomous vehicles requires more than technology – it requires regulatory and legal expertise. Sid not only has this experience, but also understands the benefits that autonomous vehicles can have on transportation equity and accessibility.”

Venkatesan spent just over two years at Embark Trucks, having previously been chief operating officer and GC at manufacturing business Komline-Sanderson and executive counsel for technology contracts and IP litigation, M&A and IP strategy at GE Digital. Prior to that he spent 12 years in private practice at Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe in San Francisco, working his way up to partner.

He said: “The mobility sector is in the middle of a significant shift toward sustainability and accessibility due in no small part to the rapid development of autonomous driving. I am excited to be part of this transition and was particularly attracted to May Mobility’s technology leadership as well as its mission of enhancing access to transportation and quality of life through its technology.”

Angel Oak appoints former Goldman lawyer as CLO

US financial services firm Angel Oak has named Timothy Saunders as its new chief legal officer and general counsel, replacing Dory Black who has left to join Momnt (see next story). 

Saunders joins from Reverence Capital Partners, where he was GC and chief compliance officer. At Angel Oak, he will be responsible for managing all of its legal affairs and regulatory compliance issues, including for Angel Oak Capital Advisors and Angel Oak Mortgage Solutions.

Sreeni Prabhu, managing partner and co-CEO of Angel Oak, said: “Tim’s legal acumen, strategic thinking and industry experience make him an invaluable addition to our executive team as general counsel. He has consistently demonstrated expertise in anticipating challenges and managing risks. We are confident that he will use this skillset to navigate the legal and strategic aspects of our business, driving our firm toward further success.”

Saunders was at Reverence for just over two years, having joined from Goldman Sachs where he spent 21 years in a variety of roles including as associate GC and global head of mortgages and structured finance.

He said: “Given my background, I feel confident that I will make a significant impact for Angel Oak as we continue to execute across our asset management and mortgage origination businesses.”

Fintech Momnt hires ex-Angel Oak GC as new CLO

Payments and lending fintech Momnt has appointed Dory Black as its new chief legal officer.

Black joins from Angel Oak, where she was general counsel for the company and its affiliates. At Momnt, she will oversee all legal and regulatory matters for the business, including contract negotiations and corporate governance.

Momnt’s co-founder Barclay Keith said: “[Black] will play a crucial role in our future success. We’re looking forward to the exceptional contributions she’ll make as we continue to grow and expand.”

Black spent more than eight years as GC at Angel Oak and as chief of business initiatives. Prior to that she was briefly GC and a director at Earnest Partners, having spent more than 11 years at GE Asset Management where she was associate GC. She started her career in private practice at legacy firm Dewey Ballantine.

Black said: “When presented with this incredible opportunity, I quickly saw the potential to help scale this business and shape the future of real-time lending payment solutions. Momnt’s unyielding commitment to constant innovation and improvement will continue to propel its market share growth, and I couldn’t be more excited for what the future holds.”

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