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Wilson Sonsini Cuts Deal with Morgan Stanley on Startup Software

Feb. 23, 2021, 4:32 PM

Silicon Valley-founded law firm Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati has signed a deal with Morgan Stanley that will give the investment bank access to proprietary software the firm created that manages startup finances, a rare instance of a major law firm capitalizing on its internal software development.

For Morgan Stanley, the deal is part of a broader push into wealth and asset-management services.

The capitalization management software helps startup companies and their employees track who holds equity in their business and other financial information. Under the deal announced Tuesday, Wilson Sonsini clients will be able to migrate their information to Morgan Stanley’s Shareworks program.

Law firms have little track record of successful software development, but some are warming to the idea. The industry, which mostly bills by the hour, faces pressure to be more efficient, including by using more technology.

Wilson Sonsini has been a leader in delivering new services, most visibly through a software development and automation subsidiary launched in 2019 that has been automating documents lawyers used to draft.

Wilson Sonsini has one of the most active legal practices representing startup companies in Silicon Valley, having helped the likes of Apple Inc., Google, and, more recently, Lyft Inc., go public. Its startup software, known to clients as its “Basic Corporate Information” tool, was developed internally, and the firm said in a statement it has “played a central role in the growth and operational success of many of the firm’s clients.”

“Our capitalization software was among the first in the industry and the only one developed by a law firm,” David Wang, Wilson Sonsini’s chief innovation officer said in a statement. “As we continue to evolve how we serve as trusted legal and strategic advisors to our clients through their entire lifecycle, we are excited about the opportunity to provide an even more efficient and technology-driven capitalization management experience for our clients with a state-of-the-art solution like Shareworks.”

Morgan Stanley has increasingly offered wealth management solutions to companies and their employees. The bank acquired what is now its Shareworks platform through a 2019 purchase of Solium Capital Inc. And last year Morgan Stanley bought popular stock brokerage E*Trade Financial Corp.

“We are confident that Wilson Sonsini’s clients can also benefit from our broader Morgan Stanley services and offerings,” Jed Finn, head of corporate and institutional solutions at Morgan Stanley Wealth Management, said in a statement.

To contact the reporter on this story: Roy Strom in Chicago at rstrom@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Rebekah Mintzer at rmintzer@bloomberglaw.com; Chris Opfer at copfer@bloomberglaw.com

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