Welcome

Tonal Taps First Legal Chief as ‘Fit Tech’ Loads Up on Lawyers

July 12, 2021, 10:01 AM

Tonal Systems Inc., one of several home fitness technology companies that have watched their business grow due to demand during the coronavirus pandemic, has recruited M. Andrea Soria to be its new director of legal.

Ashley Hennings, a Tonal spokeswoman, confirmed to Bloomberg Law that Soria is the startup’s first in-house legal chief. Tonal, which has been seeking new funding over the past year, makes an eponymous gym-on-the-wall exercise equipment and training product that sells for roughly $3,000 apiece.

Tonal joined the ranks of fitness technology or “fit tech” unicorns in March after closing a $250 million Series E fundraising round valuing the privately held enterprise at $1.6 billion.

The San Francisco-based company’s backers include the hedge fund Dragoneer Investment Group, private equity firm L Catterton, and venture capital firms Shasta Ventures Inc. and Sapphire Ventures LLC. Professional athletes have also invested, including Serena Williams, Mike Tyson, Michelle Wie, Maria Sharapova, Sue Bird, Stephen Curry, Paul George, Klay Thompson, Larry Fitzgerald, and Drew Brees.

Soria, who started her legal career two decades ago at San Jose, Calif.-based law firm McManis Faulkner, spent four years as general counsel for Intero Real Estate Services Inc., one of Silicon Valley’s largest residential real estate brokerages prior to its 2014 sale to Berkshire Hathaway Inc.’s HomeServices of America Inc.

In 2009, Soria was hired by Glu Mobile Inc., and spent nearly a decade at the video game maker, which agreed to be sold earlier this year to rival Electronic Arts Inc. She left her role as a deputy general counsel at Glu Mobile in 2019 to become head of legal for Calm.com Inc., a software company behind the sleep, meditation, relaxation, and wellness app of the same name. She left Calm a year ago.

Calm, which subsequently hired former Stripe Inc. lawyer Jacques Lehot to be its general counsel, then closed a fundraising round that pushed the San Francisco-based startup’s own valuation to roughly $2 billion in December.

Tonal, founded in 2015 by current CEO Aly Orady, is the latest home fitness technology company expanding its operations to recruit in-house talent as Covid-19 lockdown orders that closed gyms and restricted office workers to their homes contributed to a spike in popularity for home workout devices.

Gunderson Dettmer Stough Villeneuve Franklin & Hachigian, a law firm known for its expertise advising startups, is handling corporate matters for Tonal, said Hennings, the company’s spokeswoman. She confirmed that Tonal also works with Morrison & Foerster, which public records show is providing trademark counsel.

Hot Hiring Market

The boom in fit tech has been led by Peloton Interactive Inc., a cycling and exercise equipment company that’s been busy hiring lawyers as it copes with product liability concerns and other legal issues related to its popular platform.

Peloton, which in February hired a new compliance chief, has continued its hiring spree by bringing on at least 10 in-house lawyers over the past four months, according to Bloomberg Law data. New York-based Peloton’s legal additions include associate product counsel Konrad Lee and Megan Briskman, who left behind associate-level jobs at K&L Gates and Weil, Gotshal & Manges, respectively.

Melanie Scott-Bennett, a member of the Leadership Council on Legal Diversity who most recently was a principal corporate counsel at Microsoft Corp., a technology giant reorganizing its law department, was hired by Peloton as an associate general counsel in June. Christina Alabi, an assistant general counsel at JPMorgan Chase & Co. in Chicago, joined Peloton in April as senior counsel for global employment law.

That same month Peloton hired attorney Jennifer Hernandez-Medina—a former North America director of employee relations at Starbucks Corp.—as a senior director of global employee relations. Peloton’s head instructor and vice president of fitness is Robin Arzón, a former midlevel associate at Paul Hastings who ditched a Big Law career in favor of breaking ground as a treadmill warrior.

The diversity of the fit tech world is what’s drawn some lawyers to the industry. Kenya Thacker-Pierre, a former general counsel at Atlanta-based Yardstick Management, left the Black-owned management consulting firm in January to become the first deputy general counsel at Strava Inc.

Thacher-Pierre reports to Strava general counsel Annie Frye, who heads the small law department for the San Francisco-based company, which operates a social network for athletes. Strava, which Thacker-Pierre said is her “first time in pure tech,” hit unicorn status in November after securing $110 million in Series F funding.

“What I believe is growing or trying to grow is diversity in the tech space and I’m glad to be part of this transformation,” said Thacker-Pierre, who is part of the Black General Counsel Initiative, a group profiled by Bloomberg Law.

Strava isn’t finished hiring. In May, the company recruited product counsel Nefi Acosta, a son of Mexican immigrants and former associate at Munger, Tolles & Olson who spent the past year on secondment to the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative LLC.

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

To read more articles log in.

Learn more about a Bloomberg Law subscription.