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Airbnb’s New GC Spotlights Importance of Top Lawyers in Tech

April 12, 2016, 9:47 PM

Airbnb Inc. has added a new general counsel to help it respond to a growing number of legal threats facing the room-rental company.

Rob Chesnut comes to the company from Santa Clara-based textbook rental company Chegg Inc., where he was the senior vice president and general counsel, as well as the chair of its board. He worked at the company for six years, according to his LinkedIn profile .

Chesnut, who was also senior vice president, trust and safety at eBay between 1999 and 2008, fills a position left by Belinda Johnson, who was promoted to chief business affairs and legal officer last year, Bloomberg News reports .

Per Bloomberg’s Eric Newcomer :

The role of general counsel has taken on added importance at on-demand technology startups, such as Airbnb and Uber Technologies Inc., as the companies fight costly legal battles that threaten to alter their business models. Airbnb has sparred with governments over the taxes its hosts pay, and the company has set up offices in various tax havens . Airbnb has also been sued for the alleged misdeeds of its hosts, including one incident involving a hidden camera in a rental.

Chesnut said: “Whenever you’ve got a business model that breaks new ground and challenges the status quo, it’s going to run up against laws that were passed long before the business model was ever conceived.”

And he’s certainly one to know: A former assistant U.S. attorney with a law degree from Harvard, his resume shows that he has served on the advisory boards of a number of startups and technology companies, including Modria.com, PredPol, Inc., Elance, YottaMark and Plastic Jungle.

Big Law Business reached out to Airbnb for comment and we’ll update this post if we hear back. In the meantime, let us know what you think about the move and write to BigLawBusiness@bna.com. Are tech companies the latest hiring ground for legal talent?

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