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Sony Gaming Unit Adds Uber Antitrust Lawyer Amid Expansion Plans

July 20, 2022, 8:31 PM

Sony Interactive Entertainment Corp. has hired a new top antitrust and public policy lawyer in Gregory McCurdy, who held a similar position at Uber Technologies Inc.

McCurdy, Sony’s new senior director for competition and regulatory affairs, arrives as the company’s gaming subsidiary recently made a key acquisition and scuttled an antitrust class action. He left Uber last month, shortly before the ridesharing giant’s former top European lobbyist leaked a trove of company documents.

A Sony spokesperson confirmed McCurdy’s hire, which he announced in a recent message posted to his LinkedIn profile.

“The world of video games is fascinating and will be a great new adventure for me,” McCurdy said via LinkedIn. He spent more than 15 years as a senior litigation and policy lawyer for Microsoft Corp. prior to joining Uber in 2015. “I know it a bit from my Microsoft days when Xbox launched to compete with PlayStation,” McCurdy said.

His senior director role at Sony is a new one, per an online posting for the job. The posting said the person filling the role would would become a “senior level member” of the PlayStation video game console maker’s global legal leadership and “primary competition and regulatory counsel” for the company’s business worldwide.

McCurdy didn’t respond to a request for comment. Nor did Stephanie Burns, who joined Sony last year as legal chief for its San Mateo, Calif.-based gaming unit.

That business includes PlayStation and the video game company Bungie Inc., whose $3.6 billion sale to Sony closed earlier this month. Sony reportedly has plans to turn Bungie into a subscription service for video games.

Sony and its lawyers from Shearman & Sterling also scored a win this week by convincing a federal judge in California to dismiss a putative class action accusing its PlayStation store of anti-competitive practices. McCurdy, a former co-chair of the American Bar Association’s antitrust committee, is well-versed on such issues.

At Uber, he led a team handling US antitrust litigation and merger clearance proceedings. McCurdy was also previously Microsoft’s first antitrust litigator in Europe, where he spent eight years managing antitrust proceedings before the European Commission in Brussels and appeals to courts in Luxembourg.

Uber’s Influence

McCurdy initially co-led an Uber group that provided advice on legislative, legal, and transportation policy matters to the ridesharing giant’s government relations and communications teams during a critical time in the company’s growth cycle, according to online biographical materials.

That work included counseling Uber in its “dealings with state and municipal governments and airport authorities who are all active in regulating taxi and for-hire vehicle services,” said a description of McCurdy’s duties on his LinkedIn profile. “These issues are key to Uber’s rapid growth and innovation in hundreds of jurisdictions in the US and around the world.”

Uber’s efforts to influence government authorities as it expanded globally between 2013 and 2017 were the subject of the “Uber Files,” a collection of 124,000 corporate records turned over to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists by former company lobbyist Mark MacGann.

The leaked files outline the tactics that Uber used to expand into new markets by recruiting politicians and implementing aggressive measures to thwart regulators and law enforcement bodies. Uber acknowledged past mistakes in a statement.

A spokeswoman for Uber co-founder Travis Kalanick, who resigned in 2017 as Uber’s top executive and is now hiring lawyers for his real estate startup, issued a separate statement denying that he acted inappropriately or directed illegal actions.

“The reality was that Uber’s expansion initiatives were led by over a hundred leaders in dozens of countries around the world and at all times under the direct oversight and with the full approval of Uber’s robust legal, policy, and compliance groups,” said Kalanick’s spokeswoman, Devon Spurgeon.

Salle Yoo, Uber’s top lawyer until she left the company in 2017 following Kalanick’s ouster, said in a statement that “we developed systems to ensure the company acted ethically and consistent with the law in the countries where we operated.”

Yoo sold off millions in Uber stock after leaving the company. She resurfaced last year at IonQ Inc., a quantum computing outfit she joined as legal chief as it prepared to go public. An IonQ spokeswoman confirmed that Yoo has since left the company, which hired a new top lawyer in March.

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