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Ex-Tesla Lawyer Is New Legal Boss at Vehicle Charger Startup (1)

May 4, 2021, 6:20 PM; Updated: May 4, 2021, 8:55 PM

Former Tesla Inc. and Apple Inc. lawyer Jeff Risher has joined electric vehicle charging company FreeWire Technologies Inc. as general counsel, the company announced Tuesday.

Risher joined the San Leandro, Calif.-based FreeWire on April 19 after just over a year with wireless charging company Aira Inc., where he was chief strategy officer and general counsel. He will oversee matters including intellectual property strategy and technology partnerships, according to a statement.

FreeWire produces mobile electric vehicle chargers and recently raised $50 million in its Series C funding round. The company also counts oil giant BP Plc among its investors.

It’s estimated by BloombergNEF that electric vehicles will account for 58% of all car sales and displace 17.6 million barrels of oil per day by 2040. Companies that have long worked with more traditional energy sources for automobiles, like BP, have begun expanding into the EV market.

“FreeWire’s battery-integrated charging station technology addresses some of the most fundamental challenges to EV charging infrastructure deployment,” Risher said in the statement. “It is an exciting honor to join this amazing FreeWire team at this critical stage of the company’s growth and at an historical turning point in global EV adoption.”

President Joe Biden’s new infrastructure plan also proposes a $174 billion investment in the EV industry, which includes grants and incentive programs to create a “national network of 500,000 EV chargers by 2030.”

“We’re certainly glad that the administration is focusing on the significance and importance of deploying the charging infrastructure,” Risher told Bloomberg Law. “The biggest hurdle to EV adoption, for the most part, is the concern over, ‘Where am I going to charge? How am I going to charge, and how am I going to stay charged?’”

Risher worked for Tesla as deputy general counsel and chief IP and litigation counsel, for Apple as director of patent licensing and strategy, and for Abbott Laboratories as patent litigation counsel, according to his LinkedIn profile.

He also had a stop at electric vehicle company Faraday Future in 2018 and began his career with Rutan & Tucker and Latham & Watkins. Risher said he continues to support his most recent employer Aira as an outside advisor and investor.

In December, FreeWire partnered with BP’s electric vehicle charging division bp pulse to provide FreeWire’s Boost Chargers in the U.K. The partnership could be valued at $50 milliononce finalized, according to a statement at the time.

“EV charging can place significant demands on the grid, especially on a local level, and certain locations can’t be easily upgraded to high power connections,” the Dec. 10 statement said. “The flexibility of the Boost Charger solution means that significantly more locations will be able to benefit from ultra-fast charging.”

FreeWire also hired Michael Beer as chief financial officer on Tuesday. Beer previously worked for Luminar Technologies, which makes sensors and software for self-driving cars, and Citigroup Inc.

“As our growth accelerates, FreeWire continues to attract world-class leaders who bring a diverse, experienced and unmatched skillset to the EV market from leading enterprise companies including Apple, Citi, Tesla, Luminar and more,” FreeWire founder CEO Arcady Sosinov said in a statement.

(Updated with information from Risher and Biden's infrastructure plan in paragraphs two, six, seven, and nine. )

To contact the reporter on this story: Ruiqi Chen in Washington, D.C. at rchen@bloombergindustry.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Rebekah Mintzer at rmintzer@bloomberglaw.com; Chris Opfer at copfer@bloomberglaw.com

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