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Opendoor Hires Winklevoss-Backed Crypto Firm’s Top Lawyer (2)

July 28, 2022, 2:04 PMUpdated: July 28, 2022, 6:03 PM

Sydney Schaub is leaving her job as legal chief for Gemini Trust Co., a cryptocurrency exchange founded by the Winklevoss brothers, to join online real estate company Opendoor Technologies Inc. as top lawyer.

Schaub spent nearly the past four years at the company started by bitcoin billionaires Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss. Gemini recently shed 10% of its staff amid a downturn in the digital asset market.

Opendoor, which went public in late 2020 by merging with a special purpose acquisition company, is looking to reinvent the home-buying process. The company, whose business is focused on so-called iBuying technology, expanded earlier this year into the suburbs surrounding New York City.

Schaub “has been instrumental in making companies that are disrupting old ways of doing business into household names,” Eric Wu, Opendoor’s co-founder and chief executive officer, said in a statement.

A Gemini spokeswoman said the company promoted deputy general counsel Niels Gjertson to general counsel and he will oversee legal, compliance and regulatory affairs when he starts Aug. 5. He joined Gemini in 2019 after almost five years at Square Inc., a Jack Dorsey-led financial services company now known as Block Inc.

Gemini, valued last year at $7 billion, hired Schaub in 2018 after she spent more than a year as general counsel for e-commerce fashion retail platform Rent the Runway Inc. Prior to that Schaub spent almost six years at Square, where she was named co-acting general counsel in 2016 upon the exit of former legal chief Dana Wagner.

Schaub also worked for nearly five years at Alphabet Inc.’s Google, which recruited her directly out of Harvard Law School in 2007. She didn’t respond to a request for comment about her departure from Gemini.

Schaub, in a statement July 26 on her LinkedIn profile, thanked her former colleagues at Gemini and said she was “looking forward to a new challenge disrupting yet another regulated industry.”

Opendoor Role

At Opendoor, Schaub moves into a role previously held by Elizabeth Stevens, a former head of legal and brokerage at the company. Stevens left in September to become general counsel for One, a financial technology app backed by Walmart Inc.

Opendoor gave Stevens nearly $5.9 million in total compensation during fiscal 2021, the company disclosed in a proxy statement filed in April. However, Stevens forfeited 75% of the roughly $5.6 million in stock awards when she left Opendoor.

The San Francisco-based company went public in December 2020 after combining with Social Capital Hedosophia Holdings Corp. II, an entity backed by venture capitalist Chamath Palihapitiya, a serial dealmaker in the SPAC space.

Latham & Watkins advised Opendoor on that deal, while Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom took the lead for Palihapitiya’s SPAC. Opendoor has built a $9 billion war chest as it seeks to shake up the US residential real estate market by buying and selling homes, Bloomberg reported last year.

Schaub is a founding member of TechGC, a private, invitation-only community of law department leaders and in-house lawyers in the technology sector that share best practices, network with one another, and exchange career advice.

(Adds detail on new Gemini legal chief in fifth paragraph and comment from Schaub in eighth paragraph.)

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

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