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Scooter Startup Lime Adds Global General Counsel From Pizza Hut

May 26, 2021, 9:31 AM

Lime, a transportation startup specializing in electric scooter rentals and other forms of transportation, has picked up Pizza Hut executive Sarah Binder to be its new global general counsel.

Russell Murphy, a Lime spokesman, confirmed that Binder will fill the job vacated in May by Lindsey Haswell as the San Francisco-based company’s top lawyer.

The London-based Binder “will expand our leadership team geographically and will provide valuable expertise as we enter a new phase in Lime’s trajectory,” Lime CEO Wayne Ting said in a statement.

Binder’s move from Pizza Hut to Lime, whose corporate parent is Neutron Holdings Inc., comes after the company and its micromobility competitors have endured a rough year stemming from a dearth of commuters with workers around the world stuck at home due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Lime laid off employees in the U.S. and Europe but still raised $170 million in an investment round last year led by Uber Technologies Inc. and Google LLC parent Alphabet Inc. By late 2020, Lime had its first cash-flow positive quarter in the startup’s four-year history as it prepares for a potential commuting comeback.

Lime, like other gig economy companies, also faces worker classification litigation from drivers hired to charge and transport its scooters. Lime also operates mopeds.

Binder, a U.K. lawyer who began her career at Clifford Chance in London and Abu Dhabi, was elevated earlier this year to chief development officer for Pizza Hut’s U.K. and European operations.

The pizza restaurant chain, a subsidiary of fast-food giant Yum Brands Inc., hired Binder as general counsel for its U.K. and European unit in 2018 after she spent six years in-house at BT Group PLC. Binder held several legal, compliance, and privacy roles for BT, a London-based telecommunications titan formerly known as British Telecom, where she worked for its subsidiaries EE Ltd. and Plusnet PLC.

An auto-response message from Binder’s Yum email address said that she’s on “annual leave prior to starting a new role outside of the company.” She didn’t respond to a request for comment sent to her personal email about her decision to leave Pizza Hut for the privately held Lime.

Haswell, who Binder replaces, is a former director of regulatory at Uber who joined Lime as general counsel in 2018. She was promoted last year to chief administrative and legal officer, a role that saw Haswell oversee legal, human resources, and trust and safety for the company.

Haswell left Lime to become legal chief for Blockchain.com, a London-based cryptocurrency data and technology company whose co-founder and CEO Peter Smith noted her hire in a post last week on Medium.

Ting, a former chief of staff at Uber, said in the statement that he was “tremendously grateful” to Haswell for “helping to grow and build a winning culture” at Lime.

The company appointed former O’Melveny & Myers partner and ex-Obama administration official Danielle Gray to its board last year. Gray currently serves as chief legal and administrative officer for Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina.

In a post on her LinkedIn profile nearly a year ago, Haswell said that Gray would serve as Lime’s first independent director and bring with her “extensive experience in legal, policy, and regulatory matters from both the public and private sectors, including several roles within the White House and Department of Justice.”

Haswell, in a separate LinkedIn post this month, said she had the ride of a lifetime at Lime but was ready to send her scooter into the sunset with Binder poised to “successfully lead Lime into the next chapter” of its existence.

Haswell, who began her career at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, will now lead the legal, compliance, and human resources teams at Blockchain.com, whose official name is Blockchain Ltd.

As for Yum, the quick-service food company tapped Lawrence Grafau, a regional head of legal for its Kentucky Fried Chicken brand in Europe, to succeed Binder in April as general counsel of Pizza Hut’s U.K. and Europe unit upon her promotion to chief development officer.

Pizza Hut, which in recent years has been busy expanding abroad, has also been involved in negotiations with bankrupt NPC International Inc. to sell off certain restaurant locations. NPC, which filed for Chapter 11 protection in the U.S. last year, is the largest franchisee of Pizza Hut restaurants.

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