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Sports Data Giant Snags Kirkland Partner as New Top Lawyer

Feb. 13, 2020, 4:35 PM

Stats Perform, a sports data and analytics company that got its start crunching numbers for America’s favorite pastime, has a baseball fan as its new general counsel.

Elizabeth Cutri, a former Kirkland & Ellis partner and lifelong fan of Major League Baseball’s Chicago White Sox, officially became Stats Perform’s first-ever general counsel in late January, she told Bloomberg Law.

The company, dually headquartered in Chicago and London, announced Cutri’s hire Wednesday. Cutri will help “lead the company’s legal team across all commercial and operational activities” as it seeks to expand into artificial intelligence-related technologies, Stats Perform said in a statement.

Stats Perform’s largest clients are media outlets and technology companies, sports teams and leagues, and betting operators, particularly those overseas, Cutri said. The company announced Jan. 30 a deal that makes it the exclusive global data provider for Major League Soccer and the U.S. Soccer Federation.

At Stats Peform, Cutri will helm a six-attorney law department. Two lawyers—corporate counsel Meghan Nugent and Ryan McLaughlin—work out of Chicago, while the remainder are based in Stats Perform’s London office. Despite the company’s data crunching prowess, Cutri said it’s too early in her in-house tenure to foresee whether the company will look to grow its in-house legal team.

Formed From Merger

Stats Perform was formed last summer following the merger of STATS LLC, a Chicago-based predecessor owned by Vista Equity Partners LLC, and the U.K.’s Perform Content, the sports data unit of Perform Group, a sports entertainment and media company now known as DAZN Group Ltd.

The union put the combined company under the ownership umbrella of Vista, a longtime private equity client of Kirkland, Cutri’s former firm. The financial terms of the deal weren’t disclosed.

Cutri joined Kirkland as an associate in late 2008 before becoming part of the firm’s large nonequity partnership tier in 2014. It was at Kirkland where the former commercial litigator became aware of the in-house opening at Stats Perform.

“It was on my radar through the Vista connection,” Cutri said. “I’ve always had a very positive impression of Vista and their model of being focused on software and technology companies.”

Cutri said she was looking for an in-house job at a “cutting-edge technology company that had room for growth,” but which was also near her hometown of Chicago and had a small legal team where should could make an “imprint.”

She didn’t handle work for Stats Perform while at Kirkland, but said her new employer’s legal needs are primarily in litigation and commercial contracting.

Kirkland’s Connections

STATS—an acronym for Sports Team Analysis and Tracking Systems Inc.—was started in 1981 by former insurance actuary John Dewan, who sold the business to News Corp.’s FOX Sports in 2000. In 2005, STATS became a joint venture between FOX and The Associated Press.

During that time, STATS had its own general counsel in Deborah Klein, who left the company in early 2018. Vista acquired STATS in May 2014 from FOX and AP. A few months after that deal, STATS bought Bloomberg Sports, a rival sports data and analytics service, from Bloomberg Industry Group affiliate Bloomberg L.P.

Kirkland has close ties to Vista, a private equity shop whose former Kirkland lawyers include chief legal officer, COO, and senior managing director David Breach; managing director and general counsel Christina Lema; and director of legal and senior counsel Stacy Clement.

The firm has handled numerous transactions for Vista, including its $1.94 billion buy of financial software company Apptio Inc. in 2019, $4.75 billion sale of marketing software company Marketo Inc. in 2018, $3.6 billion acquisition of Canadian financial technology services provider DH Corp. in 2017, and $4.3 billion purchase of business software company TIBCO Software Inc. in 2014.

In 2015 alone, Kirkland served as outside counsel to Vista on its $3.74 billion purchase of software company Solera Holdings Inc., $2.35 billion sale of payment processing company TransFirst Holdings Inc., and $1.9 billion sale of network security company Websense Inc. to defense contractor Raytheon Co.

Cutri’s husband, fellow litigator and Chicago Cubs fan Gianni Cutri, is still a partner at Kirkland.

Cutri expects that the firm, which advised Vista and STATS last year on the merger with Perform Content, will continue advising the combined company as it expands its business.

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

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Michael Ferullo at mferullo@bloomberglaw.com; Seth Stern at sstern@bloomberglaw.com

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