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Twitter Lawyers Depart as Court Battle Over Musk Deal Looms (1)

Aug. 25, 2022, 5:55 PMUpdated: Aug. 25, 2022, 8:12 PM

Twitter Inc. has watched at least a half-dozen lawyers head for the door in the last two months as the social media company prepares for a courtroom showdown with billionaire Elon Musk.

The departing lawyers handled duties in legal, human resources, and public policy. They include Lara Quint, Twitter’s former legal director for global policy, and Andrew Woods, head of the company’s revenue partnerships legal team.

Twitter and the company’s longtime top lawyer, Vijaya Gadde, didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

Listen here to Brian Baxter talk on our podcast about legal staff turnover at Tesla.

The departures come as Twitter prepares for an October trial in a Delaware court for a lawsuit it filed against Musk, the world’s richest man and top boss at electric vehicle maker Tesla Inc. Twitter sued Musk in July after he sought to back out of a $44 billion deal to buy the San Francisco-based company.

Woods, most recently an associate general counsel at Twitter, has worked for the social media platform since 2015. He has now joined PubMatic Inc. as general counsel and corporate secretary, a spokesman for the Redwood City, Calif.-based advertising technology company confirmed. His first day at PubMatic was Aug. 22.

PubMatic tapped Woods to succeed its former top lawyer, Thomas Chow, a former senior counsel at Snap Inc. who was announced Thursday as the new chief legal officer for Chia Network Inc., a blockchain startup backed by BitTorrent creator Bram Cohen that last year was valued at $500 million.

“At the risk of using a cliché, I’ve always told everyone that the best thing about Twitter is that it’s a company of really great people trying to do the right thing,” Woods said in an Aug. 20 LinkedIn post about his departure. “Every experience I’ve had has reinforced that.”

Woods didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. Nor did Quint, the former legal director for global policy who left Twitter in July to join Alphabet Inc.'s Google as a senior counsel for regulatory response, investigations, and strategy, according to her LinkedIn profile.

Twitter lawyer Lindsey Tran announced via LinkedIn earlier this month her departure after nearly five years at the company. She has become global head of employee relations at Block Inc., the payments processor formerly known as Square and co-founded by Jack Dorsey, Twitter’s co-founder and former top executive.

“I want to thank my incredible team for showing me what excellence, professionalism, and grace under fire looks like,” Tran said.

Twitter Exits

Twitter saw a handful of in-house lawyers leave earlier this year—before and after when Musk initially paid $2.9 billion for a 9.2% stake in the company.

Stripe Inc., an online payments company that’s been bolstering its legal staff, brought on former Twitter senior legal counsel Stephen Suyoung Kim as a commercial counsel in June. Jennifer Decker and Adam Brezine also left Twitter’s legal group in April to join Microsoft Corp. and Adobe Inc., respectively.

Also leaving Twitter that same month was Alex Angarita Rosales, a former contestant on reality television show “Survivor” hired by Twitter last year as a product, cybersecurity, and technology lawyer.

Walmart Inc. welcomed aboard former Twitter senior director and associate general counsel Angela Dougan Sherrer in March as a chief counsel for data and technology.

Musk’s pitch for taking over Twitter reportedly included reducing staff to improve profitability, which hurt morale as the company implemented a hiring freeze, according to Bloomberg. Musk, in a June meeting with Twitter employees, said they shouldn’t be worried about potential job cuts.

An increasing number of Twitter employees are leaving the company, some of them citing disenchantment with its current leadership and others stress related to Musk’s potential acquisition, Business Insider reported last week.

Twitter disclosed in its most recent proxy statement that Gadde, its legal chief and corporate secretary, had a pay package valued at almost $17 million in 2021.

Gadde was hit with a wave of online abuse earlier this year after Musk publicly criticized content-related decisions at Twitter.

(Adds detail on exits starting in the 11th paragraph.)

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