Corporate Law News

Tech Company Top Executive Hires Cap Big Year for Lawyer CEOs

Dec. 24, 2019, 4:57 PM

A pair of technology companies have named two former in-house counsel to their respective chief executive roles, capping a busy year for C-suite elevations of attorneys.

Glance Technologies Inc., a Vancouver-based mobile payments provider, announced Dec. 23 that interim CEO Jonathan Hoyles, a former associate at leading Canadian law firms Bennett Jones and Blake Cassels & Graydon, will now permanently serve as its top executive.

Data security solutions provider CipherLoc Corp. announced earlier this month that it appointed Andrew Borene as president and CEO. Borene, formerly a senior director at enterprise security software company Symantec Corp., previously served as associate deputy general counsel at the Defense Department and as a senior executive in the data analytics business of IBM Corp.

The promotions follow similar moves this year by larger enterprises, such as financial services giant Wells Fargo & Co., to promote lawyers with in-house expertise to CEO.

Hoyles said in a statement that he led Glance, the parent company of mobile payment app Glance Pay, during a period of rapid change by focusing on a new platform and customer base, while reducing costs and hiring new staff.

“With the majority of the legacy challenges behind us, I am excited about the future: our brand refresh, our efforts to add new customers and expand our market,” he said.

Hoyles spent a year as chief commercial officer and general counsel at Glance before being promoted to interim CEO in June. Hoyles joined Glance in early 2018 as an in-house counsel, having previously served as vice president of legal and general counsel at Canadian private equity firm the Skidmore Group.

Bloomberg data show that Hoyles owns more than 1.16 million shares of Glance stock valued at roughly $44,000. In recent months the company’s shares have traded almost at the penny stock level.

Former Marine

Borene is a former U.S. Marine Corps intelligence officer in Iraq who was honored two years ago by the FBI for saving a woman being assaulted on a Washington-area highway. He also worked as a senior adviser to management consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton and counsel in the national security, privacy, and cybersecurity group at the law firm Steptoe & Johnson in Washington.

Securities filings show that CipherLoc has agreed to pay a $350,000 annual salary to Borene, who has also received options to purchase up to 500,000 shares of stock in the Buda, Texas-based company. In a Dec. 2 statement announcing his hire, Borene said he looked forward to helping CipherLoc transform its business to court potential customers.

“This company is founded on fast, efficient, quantum-secure technology with the potential to disrupt the encryption industry,” Borene said. “My priority from day one will be to get this product to market the right way.”

Neither Borene nor Hoyles immediately responded to requests for comment about their respective promotions.

Lawyer-CEO Shuffle

The lawyer-to-CEO pipeline remained strong in 2019 as Wells Fargo promoted general counsel C. Allen Parker to interim CEO in March. Parker, who was replaced in that top corporate leadership role in October, is now poised to leave Wells Fargo early next year.

In May, Irving, Texas-based construction and engineering giant Fluor Corp. announced that it promoted former chief legal officer Carlos Hernandez to CEO. In June, Boston-based intellectual property monetization company Allied Minds plc said that its former general counsel, Michael Turner, would take over as co-CEO. Turner had previously been a partner at DLA Piper and Goodwin Procter, where he acted as outside general counsel to a variety of clients.

Dublin-based professional services company Accenture plc in July tapped former Cravath Swaine & Moore partner Julie Spellman Sweet to serve as its new CEO. Sweet joined Accenture as general counsel in 2010 and was promoted five years later to CEO of its North American subsidiary. SodaStream International Ltd., the home carbonation beverage subsidiary of PepsiCo Inc., also announced in July that former chief legal officer Eyal Shohat would succeed Daniel Birnbaum as CEO.

Shohat, most recently deputy CEO and chief corporate development officer at Tel Aviv-based SodaStream, saw his promotion come as Birnbaum was being investigated for allegedly tipping off an associate to SodaStream’s $3.2 billion sale to PepsiCo last year.

Other notable in-house elevations of this year include Olga Mack, a former Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati associate who worked in-house at Visa Inc. and online dating service Zoosk Inc., being appointed in September as president, CEO, and chairman of the board of directors for contract management platform Parley Pro.

Overstock.com Inc. elevated former general counsel Jonathan Johnson III that same month to its CEO role. Johnson, a former Republican candidate for governor of Utah, had most recently served as chairman of the board for the Salt Lake City-based online retail platform.

Industry Association Leaders

At least four Washington-based trade associations also saw lawyers take over their top leadership roles this year.

Jodie Kelley, a former Jenner & Block partner who spent the past decade as general counsel of the Washington-based Business Software Alliance, in September was named CEO of the Beltway-based Electronic Transactions Association. Federal tax filings show that Kelley earned $711,793 in total compensation in 2017 through her role as general counsel of the BSA. Jason Oxman, Kelley’s predecessor as CEO of the ETA, took home $693,217 in total compensation from the organization that same year, according to federal tax records.

Oxman, also an attorney, in January was named president and CEO of the Information Technology Industry Council, a Washington-based tech advocacy group. Oxman replaced Dean Garfield, a former Kaye Scholer associate who joined Netflix Inc. as vice president of global public policy. Tax records reveal that Garfield earned $935,809 as CEO of the ITI in 2017-18.

The Washington-based Entertainment Software Association in May elevated former general counsel Stanley Pierre-Louis to president and CEO. Pierre-Louis, a former co-chair of the entertainment and media law group at Kaye Scholer, joined the ESA as its legal chief in 2015. Tax filings by the organization, which represents the U.S. video game industry, show that Pierre-Louis received $649,294 in total compensation for serving as general counsel in 2017-18.

In late October, former Covington & Burling associate Stephen Kaminski took over as president and CEO of the National Propane Gas Association. Kaminski spent the last five years as CEO of the Alexandria, Va.-based American Association of Poison Control Centers, whose most recent tax filings show he earned $268,046 in total compensation in 2016. Kaminski previously served as general counsel of the American Humane Association and vice president of legal affairs at Discovery Communications LLC.

At the NPGA, Kaminski replaced non-lawyer CEO Richard Roldan, who held the nonprofit’s top leadership role for 17 years, earning $440,815 in total compensation for 2017-18, according to federal tax filings.

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

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Alexis Kramer at akramer@bloomberglaw.com; Seth Stern at sstern@bloomberglaw.com

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