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Thumbtack Hires New Legal Leader After Layoffs, Acquisition (1)

Dec. 16, 2020, 12:38 AMUpdated: Dec. 16, 2020, 6:42 PM

Thumbtack Inc. announced Tuesday its hire of Melanie Margolin as the home services startup’s new chief legal officer.

Margolin, most recently general counsel at industrial manufacturer Wabash National Inc., becomes the third top lawyer appointed by Thumbtack in as many years.

“Thumbtack’s mission of helping people connect with local service professionals lines up with my philosophy that it’s truly the connections in work and life that are critical to success,” Margolin said in a statement announcing her hire.

Thumbtack has raised more than $420 million in funding since its founding in 2008. The company, valued at $1.7 billion last year, announced last week its acquisition of Setter Inc., a Toronto-based digital home management platform. Torys, a large Canadian law firm, advised Thumbtack on the deal.

San Francisco-based Thumbtack was hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic, laying off at least 250 employees earlier this year.

The company provides an online marketplace for professionals—known as Thumbtack Pros—to advertise their services. The “Pros” can range from electricians and landscapers to photographers and professional trainers.

Thumbtack was not among a group of technology companies supporting Proposition 22, a bill approved by California voters in November that classifies some gig economy workers as independent contractors.

Margolin’s addition to Thumbtack’s executive ranks was disclosed Dec. 15 in a press release and Q&A on the publishing platform Medium between her and company co-founder and CEO Marco Zappacosta. The latter revealed Margolin would provide “low cost legal services to small businesses and families” if she were a Thumbtack Pro instead of the company’s top lawyer. Many lawyers are on Thumbtack.

Zappacosta said in a statement that Margolin’s “deep legal, operational, and management experience will help us achieve our next level of growth.”

In a March 30 blog post on Medium, Zappacosta wrote that he would reduce his salary to zero as Thumbtack implemented compensation cutbacks and shed employees due to a dramatic downturn in business stemming from Covid-19.

In-House Changes

Thumbtack lost its former general counsel, Steven Siger, in April to Bungalow Living Inc., a co-working startup where he is now legal chief.

Siger, a former Justice Department lawyer, joined Thumbtack in 2016 after working as a policy and senior regulatory counsel at ridesharing giant Uber Technologies Inc. He was promoted to head of legal in 2018 after former general counsel Kathryn “Katie” Biber left Thumbtack.

Biber served as general counsel to Utah Republican Sen. Mitt Romney’s unsuccessful 2012 presidential campaign. She joined cryptocurrency custodian Anchorage Hold LLC as general counsel before recently becoming the new legal chief at fintech Brex Inc.

Margolin, a former partner at the law firm Frost Brown Todd, spent the past two years as general counsel for Wabash, which she joined in 2018 after three years as deputy general counsel at equipment manufacturer Cummins Inc.

Wabash disclosed in a May 28 securities filing that Margolin’s employment ended the day prior, noting that she was entitled to severance benefits. M. Kristin Glazner, a former chief human resources officer at the Lafayette, Ind.-based company, was promoted to replace Margolin as legal chief.

Margolin received nearly $1.2 million in total compensation from Wabash in 2019, according to a proxy statement filed for that fiscal year. Bloomberg data shows that Margolin still owns nearly $762,000 in company stock.

Thumbtack spokeswoman Carly Sylvester told Bloomberg Law that Margolin is currently based in Indiana but plans to move to San Francisco early next year.

Thumbtack has three other in-house lawyers on staff, Sylvester said, including senior counsel and former acting head of legal Matthew Flairty, senior counsel Benjamin Lazar, and director Katherine Makhzoumi.

Sylvester noted that Makhzoumi is on a temporary leave of absence unrelated to the reduction in force at the company this year that claimed at least one in-house lawyer. Another former attorney, Nathan Allen, works outside Thumbtack’s legal group as a director of partnerships at the company.

Munger, Tolles & Olson; Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan; and Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe have represented Thumbtack in federal court within the past five years, Bloomberg Law data shows. Benjamin Hayes, a New York-based solo practitioner and former in-house lawyer at Kickstarter Inc., advises the company on vendor and licensing agreements, as well as compliance matters.

More HomeTech Hires

Thumbtack isn’t the only home services company shoring up its legal leadership.

Cinch Home Services Inc. announced Dec. 10 its hire of chief administrative officer and general counsel Sloane Levy, a former director of business development at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison and chief operating officer at Outten & Golden. Levy replaces John Walsh, who left Boca Raton, Fla.-based Cinch last month to become general counsel for a family-owned chain of South Florida auto dealerships.

Porch.com Inc., a Seattle-based software and home services platform planning to go public later this month after combining with a blank-check company, said Dec. 8 it hired former Expedia Group Inc. co-head of global mergers and acquisitions and legal integration Matthew Cullen as general counsel. Sidley Austin is advising Porch.com on its going-public transaction.

Offerpad LLC, a Gilbert, Ariz.-based real estate and property technology startup, announced Nov. 11 its recruitment of chief legal officer Benjamin Aronovitch. The former Paul Weiss associate spent the past seven years at Taylor Morrison Inc., a large homebuilder where Aronovitch served as deputy general counsel. Offerpad’s former legal chief Andrew Kent died in late 2018 from pancreatic cancer.

(Adds new Medium link in 10th paragraph. This story was originally published Dec. 15.)

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
Rebekah Mintzer at rmintzer@bloomberglaw.com

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