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Bird Global Names New Legal Chief After Clinching SPAC Deal

Dec. 3, 2021, 6:28 PM

Bird Global Inc., one of the largest electric scooter rental companies, named a new general counsel and corporate secretary in Lisa Murison ahead of going public last month.

Bird’s recruitment of Murison came after she served as chief legal and people officer and executive vice president of operations for Edmunds.com Inc., a Santa Monica, Calif.-based online automotive information service.

Santa Monica-based Bird went public following the completion of a merger agreed upon in May with Switchback II Corp., a special purpose acquisition company. The deal valued Bird, advised by Latham & Watkins, at roughly $2.3 billion.

Despite growing fears about the potential spread of other strains of Covid-19, Bird has touted its e-scooters as providing a natural form of social distancing in a post-pandemic public transportation world.

Bird didn’t respond to a request for comment about its hire of Murison, which was confirmed via securities filings by the company, her own LinkedIn profile, and Murison’s registration with the New York State Unified Court System.

Murison oversees Bird’s legal affairs, including business transactions, compliance, corporate governance, intellectual property, labor and employment, litigation, and regulatory matters, securities filings show.

She succeeds former Bird general counsel Wendy Mantell, a former Greenberg Traurig partner who joined the company as a deputy general counsel in mid-2018 after working in-house at FanDuel Inc. and Hulu LLC.

Mantell led Bird’s legal function from its Series B financing through the “close of a going public SPAC transaction” and in October began “transitioning away” from her day-to-day general counsel duties, according to her LinkedIn profile.

She’s now a consultant at the company, according to her LinkedIn. Mantell didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Bird, founded in 2017, tapped Mantell to take over its top legal role following the late 2019 departure of the company’s former general counsel David Estrada, who is now the legal and policy chief at Nuro Inc., a self-driving vehicle startup.

Bloomberg News reported in August that Bird’s revenue returned to levels seen prior to the coronavirus pandemic, whose municipal lockdown orders hit hard the urban micromobility market. Bird laid off 30% of its workforce due to Covid-19.

Bird, whose financial backers include venture capitalist David Sacks, currently operates in more than 300 cities, including New York, where a new generation of e-scooters are now taking the streets.

Product liability lawsuits and varying local laws are some of the myriad legal and regulatory issues to face Bird and other e-scooter startups in recent years.

Murison, a native South African, began her legal career two decades ago as a Johannesburg-based associate at one of the country’s largest law firms, Bowmans.

She joined Edmunds in 2016 after working as a corporate partner at California’s Stradling Yocca Carlson & Rauth and special counsel at Sullivan & Cromwell in Los Angeles and New York.

During her almost six years at Edmunds, Murison led the company’s legal and human resources departments, as well as its corporate development, facilities, and procurement functions.

Edmunds spokeswoman Talia James-Armand confirmed Murison’s departure and said the company had yet to appoint her permanent replacement. “We maintain a well-qualified legal department that continues to provide sound advice and counsel to our business,” James-Armand said.

J. Mac Stuckey III, a vice president, deputy general counsel, and corporate secretary for Edmunds’ parent company, CarMax Inc., is currently leading the law department at Edmunds, James-Armand said.

CarMax, which paid $50 million in 2020 to acquire a minority stake in Edmunds, agreed earlier this year to buy the remaining portion of the company it didn’t already own at a $404 million valuation.

Bird’s addition of Murison follows e-scooter rival Lime’s appointment of Sarah Binder as its new global general counsel in June. Bloomberg News reported in November on Lime raising $523 million in debt as the company prepares to go public next year.

Wheels Labs Inc., an electric bike startup that in October agreed to pay $300,000 to settle a consumer protection lawsuit filed by the city of Santa Monica, that same month hired former Zipcar Inc. division counsel Leonard Ho as its chief legal officer.

Ho succeeds Todd Maron, a former top lawyer at Tesla Inc. who left Wheels earlier this year to become legal chief for medical apparel startup FIGS Inc.

New Lectric eBikes LLC, an e-bike startup founded in 2018, announced Sept. 14 its hire of COO Jeffrey Frehner, a former general counsel and director of human resources at Quality Bicycle Products Inc. Frehner takes charge of a Phoenix-based company that has reportedly sold more than 100,000 e-bikes in the last two years.

To contact the reporter on this story: Brian Baxter in New York at bbaxter@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Chris Opfer at copfer@bloomberglaw.com;
John Hughes in Washington at jhughes@bloombergindustry.com

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