The $145 million in stock sold by Alphabet Inc. chief legal officer David Drummond ahead of the resignation of Sergey Brin and Larry Page, co-founders of the technology company’s Google unit, capped another busy year of in-house lawyers exercising stock options to pad their annual compensation.
Stock has always been a critical component in remuneration packages for in-house legal chiefs, many of whom rely upon the sales of such shares to supplement their base salaries.
They can continue to reap the benefits post-retirement as is the case with Goldman Sachs Group Inc.'s Gregory Palm, who retired as co-general counsel in early 2019 with more than a million shares that are currently valued at $239 million, according to Bloomberg data.
Drummond unloaded $35 million in a series of stock sales disclosed on Nov. 1 that netted him $27 million when accounting for the nearly $9 million he initially paid for stock in the company.
He subsequently exercised Alphabet stock options in December that generated Drummond’s $145 million windfall. Drummond typically sells shares at the end of the year but the volume was higher this time.
Form 4 securities filings from late 2019 show a handful of other notable in-house legal chiefs selling off stock before the year ended.
While far from comprehensive—public company lawyers made hundreds of such filings in December alone—below are some notable stock sales by top in-house lawyers, many of whom are working at technology companies.
- Dell Technologies Inc. general counsel Richard Rothberg sold 141,454 shares of stock on Sept. 3 and the same sum on Oct. 28 for a total value of more than $14.5 million. Rothberg became general counsel of the Austin, Texas-based computer and software company in late 2013. Rothberg still owns nearly $4 million in Dell stock, according to Bloomberg data.
- Twilio Inc. general counsel Karyn Smith sold 118,340 shares between July and December of this year for almost $14 million. Smith has served as general counsel of the San Francisco-based cloud communications platform since 2014. Bloomberg data shows the former Cooley partner currently owns $4.35 million in Twilio stock.
- Moody’s Corp. general counsel John Goggins sold 50,885 shares between May and December for more than $10.6 million. Goggins joined Moody’s in 1999 and became general counsel of the New York-based credit ratings agency in 2011. Bloomberg data shows that Goggins currently owns more than $14 million in Moody’s stock.
- The Trade Desk Inc.’s chief legal officer Vivian Yang sold 25,962 shares between August and December for nearly $6.16 million. The one-time Latham & Watkins associate became legal chief of the Ventura, Calif.-based digital marketing company in 2016. Bloomberg data shows she currently owns $7.86 million in Trade Desk stock.
- Southern Co. general counsel and chief compliance officer James Kerr II sold 100,000 shares between August and December for more than $6.1 million. Kerr has been the top in-house lawyer at the Atlanta-based gas and electric utility since 2014. Bloomberg data shows he still owns more than $4 million in company stock.
- Western Digital Corp. chief legal officer Michael Ray sold 96,706 shares between September and December for $5.8 million. Ray has spent the past decade as legal chief of the San Jose, Calif.-based hard disk manufacturer, having been promoted from general counsel to CLO in 2015. Bloomberg data shows Ray still owns $3.25 million in Western Digital stock.
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