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Pinterest Hires Discover Financial’s Walcott as Legal Chief (1)

Sept. 15, 2022, 6:15 PMUpdated: Sept. 15, 2022, 8:41 PM

Pinterest Inc. has hired Wanjiku “Wanji” Walcott as its new chief legal officer, the company said Thursday.

Walcott, who spent the past three years as the top lawyer at Discover Financial Services, will take over Pinterest’s top legal job Nov. 14.

She will succeed Christine Flores, who Pinterest previously announced is set to step down after more than five years as the company’s general counsel.

“It’s an exciting time to be joining Pinterest, as I have personally found enriching ideas and inspiration on the Pinterest platform,” Walcott said in a statement.

Pinterest last year saw a potential $45 million sale to PayPal Holdings Inc. fall apart.

Walcott, a former senior associate at a predecessor to Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman who went on to spend more than a dozen years in-house at American Express Co., was PayPal’s general counsel prior to her move to Discover in 2019.

Discover disclosed the following year that it gave a roughly $10.4 million pay package to Walcott, putting her compensation above that of the company’s chief executive.

Walcott wasn’t one of the suburban Chicago-based company’s five highest-paid executives in 2021, according to Discover’s most recent proxy statement. She owns roughly $5.3 million in Discover stock, according to Bloomberg data.

Simon Halfin, a deputy general counsel at Discover, will serve as acting general counsel while the company searches for Walcott’s replacement. A Discover spokesman said the company appreciated Walcott’s contributions and wished her well.

Flores didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment about her future plans once she leaves Pinterest on Oct. 1. The company’s chief compliance officer, attorney Kathryn Taylor, left in July after nearly four years in the role.

Pinterest disclosed in a proxy filing that Flores’ total compensation fell 77% year-over-year to $1.1 million in 2021. Pinterest hired Flores from Alphabet Inc.’s Google in 2017. She owns almost $7.3 million in Pinterest stock, per Bloomberg data.

Earlier this year, Pinterest named a pair of new deputy general counsel in Monifa Clayton and Michele Lee, a former head of litigation at Twitter Inc. whom it hired last year as associate general counsel for global litigation, regulatory, and competition.

Their elevation came after Pinterest saw former deputy general counsel Anthony Falzone join social media Clubhouse as its first general counsel. Clubhouse hired another ex-Pinterest lawyer, Henry Lien, as a deputy general counsel this year.

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer and Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati have collectively handled more than 50% of Pinterest’s caseload in US federal courts during the last five years, according to Bloomberg Law data.

(Adds detail on Discover and Pinterest starting 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