Bloomberg Law
Free Newsletter Sign Up
Login
BROWSE
Bloomberg Law
Welcome
Login
Advanced Search Go
Free Newsletter Sign Up

Shopify Recruits Apple Lobbyist Kuhn for Counterfeit, IP Work

Jan. 31, 2022, 10:30 AM

Shopify Inc., Canada’s most valuable public company, has hired an Apple Inc. lobbyist to work on intellectual property issues and stopping the sale of counterfeit goods.

Walter Kuhn, who is also a former chief counsel to Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), joined Shopify’s internal advocacy team as director of federal government affairs, the company said in a Jan. 19 lobbying filing with the U.S. Senate.

Kuhn spent nearly a decade at Apple, most recently as a manager of federal government affairs. He started with Shopify in December. He’s part of a team lobbying the federal government on counterfeit goods, boosting small businesses, and changing laws to help protect intellectual property rights, per the Senate filing.

Shopify, which has its roots in Ottawa and went public in 2015, has become a fully remote e-commerce company that rivals Amazon.com Inc. for market share as it helps users accept online payments, build websites, and track customers, according to December story by Bloomberg Businessweek.

The company’s growth has slowed from earlier in the pandemic, and its once-soaring share price has slipped.

Shopify’s president is Canadian lawyer Harley Finkelstein, a frequent commentator on e-commerce trends who owns more than $5 million in company stock, per Bloomberg data. Finkelstein spoke with Bloomberg TV last year about Shopify’s partnership with social media service TikTok and its employee recruitment efforts.

Kuhn and Shopify didn’t respond to requests for comment.

Departures

Despite adding Kuhn, Shopify lost two vice presidents that were interim heads of the company’s in-house legal team.

MetaMap, a San Francisco-based digital trust and reputation management platform, announced Jan. 25 it hired Vivek Narayanadas to be its general counsel. Shopify had elevated Narayanadas last year to co-lead its law department following former chief legal officer Joseph Frasca’s departure.

Erin Zipes, who spent more than seven years at Shopify, most recently as corporate secretary, teamed up with Narayanadas to lead the company’s legal team after Frasca left. She announced her own departure via LinkedIn last month.

Zipes, like the recently departed legal chief at Dunkin’ Brands Group Inc., is now an angel investor. Last year she and nine other Shopify colleagues formed Backbone Angels, a collective that invests in Black, Indigenous, and women of color-led companies, according to a statement from the investment group.

The organization last week took part in a $620 million Series C fundraising by Toronto-based 1Password, valuing the digital password app at $6.8 billion.

Zipes said she hopes to return to full-time legal work for the right opportunity but for now is decompressing from “amazing and intense years” at Shopify to focus on angel investing.

“Working as an in-house lawyer at a fast-growing, founder-led tech company and building and scaling the legal team to support that business was the hardest professional challenge I’ve faced to date,” she said.

‘Canadianisms’

Narayanadas announced his own departure from Shopify, where he also served as the company’s data protection officer, in a LinkedIn post.

“Corporate lawyers don’t always get the luxury of feeling like they’re doing good in the world, but every day here I had the privilege of knowing I was fighting to arm the rebels against the evil empire,” he wrote.

Narayanadas, whose data privacy expertise once made him the rare American to appear on the cover of Canadian Lawyer magazine, jokingly added in his farewell message that he was “thankful for all the Canadianisms I learned along the way,” as well as for the “winter clothing I no longer need.”

At MetaMap, Narayanadas joins an identity verification startup formerly known as Mati that in December raised $70 million in Series B financing as it seeks to expand its business in India.

As for Shopify, the company has tapped Matthias Matthiesen, a former head of privacy at Quantcast Corp., to replace Narayanadas as its data protection officer. Mathiesen, who was hired last year, is also a senior legal counsel at the company.

Legal Hires

Shopify has brought on several other new lawyers in recent months.

Those additions include product and commercial counsel Aleksandra Petkovic, who was legal chief at New York-based real estate investment firm Ether Ventures LLC, and in-house litigators Talia Nissimyan and Kelsey Stricker, both of whom previously worked at Kaplan Hecker & Fink and White & Case, respectively.

Shopify last year also hired vice president of global government affairs Maryam Mujica, a lawyer, former diplomat, and veteran technology industry advocate. Mujica, who once worked at Google LLC and Twitter Inc., is listed in lobbying filings as working with another recent recruit to the company, Kuhn.

Shopify in November hired former Biden administration lawyer Jessica Hertz as its general counsel.

Hertz, a former Jenner & Block litigation and public policy partner in Washington who previously worked in-house at Facebook Inc., didn’t respond to a request for comment about changes to the legal group she now leads.

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