Beyond Meat Inc., which had one of 2019’s top-performing initial public offerings, gave its first-year legal chief a total compensation package worth nearly $21.94 million in 2019.
The pay for general counsel and corporate secretary Teri Witteman was disclosed in a 2019 proxy statement filed April 10 by Beyond Meat, which uses plant-based products to make meat substitutes.
Most of Witteman’s compensation—almost $21.66 million—comes from stock and options awards that can only be realized over a period of years. Witteman earned $278,125 in cash, a sum that includes $185,417 in base salary and $92,708 in non-equity incentive plan compensation. Bloomberg data shows that Witteman currently owns $4.83 million in Beyond Meat stock.
The El Segundo, Calif.-based company hired Witteman, a former partner in the Los Angeles office of California law firm Musick, Peeler & Garrett, shortly after raising nearly $241 million via an IPO in May 2019. Securities filings show that listing generated $3.2 million in legal fees and expenses for Beyond Meat’s lawyers from Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe.
Witteman started her legal career as an associate at Latham & Watkins before moving in 2004 to California firm Anglin, Flewelling, Rasmussen, Campbell & Trytten, where she spent almost a dozen years. Musick Peeler hired Witteman in April 2016 as a partner specializing in corporate governance, mergers and acquisitions, and securities compliance work. Witteman also served as a corporate secretary for national coffee and tea food service company Farmer Bros. Co. between 2012 and 2018.
After three years at Musick Peeler, Witteman left private practice to go in-house at Beyond Meat. A May 20, 2019, securities filing by the company announcing her addition said she would receive a base salary of $300,000 and an annual cash bonus targeted at 50% of that salary. An offer letter to Witteman with those compensation details is dated April 29, 2019, just before Beyond Meat went public.
Witteman did not respond to a request for comment about her compensation or the size of the in-house legal staff at Beyond Meat, which was founded in 2009 and over the past decade has received backing from billionaire Bill Gates, actor Leonardo DiCaprio, and Tyson Foods Inc., the latter of which exited its investment in the company just before it went public.
Top Tech Lawyers
Beyond Meat, whose products use plant-based proteins to mimic those in beef, chicken, and pork sausage, hired attorney Audrey Au Joulani in late 2019 to serve as a senior director for employee relations and human resources compliance.
Joulani previously served as a senior manager for employee relations and human resources compliance at Snap Inc., which in 2019 gave its general counsel Michael O’Sullivan a total compensation package worth $9.1 million.
Bloomberg Law recently reported on Facebook Inc.’s first-year general counsel Jennifer Newstead earning nearly $19.14 million in total compensation during 2019, most of that pay in the form of stock awards that will vest in future years.
Pinterest Inc., a San Francisco-based digital marketing and media company that raised $1.4 billion through an IPO last year, disclosed in a recent proxy statement that it paid $345,000 in cash to general counsel Christine Flores in 2019. Bloomberg data shows that Flores, a former vice president of legal at Google LLC hired by Pinterest in 2017, owns about $4.96 million in Pinterest stock.
Proxy statements for 2019 by other top technology companies show that Microsoft Corp. president and chief legal officer Bradford Smith earned more than $17.32 million in total compensation, while Oracle Corp. general counsel Dorian Daley received a pay package valued at nearly $8 million. Bloomberg Law reported in January on Apple Inc. general counsel Katherine Adams earning more than $25.23 million in total compensation from the electronics giant last year.
Amazon.com Inc. general counsel David Zapolsky, currently battling workers over coronavirus-related conditions at some of its facilities, was not among the e-commerce leader’s top paid executives in 2019, according to a proxy statement filed by company last month. Zapolsky owns about $8.84 million in Amazon stock, according to Bloomberg data.
Nor were Spotify Technology SA’s chief legal officer Horacio Gutierrez, hired by the company from Microsoft in 2016, or Dropbox Inc.’s Bart Volkmer, who was promoted to chief legal officer in January. Both companies went public last year. Bloomberg data shows that Volkmer owns $6.04 million in Dropbox stock.
Uber’s In-House Connections
Uber Technologies Inc., the ride-sharing giant that also went public in 2019, did not list chief legal officer and corporate secretary D. Anthony “Tony” West as among its highest-paid executives last year, according to a proxy statement filed March 30. West owns $8.15 million in Uber stock, per Bloomberg data.
West is married to MSNBC political analyst Maya Harris, who served as chairwoman for the presidential campaign of her sister, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.). The company’s proxy noted that West’s daughter earned between $250,000 and $350,000 in total compensation from Uber during 2019 and does not report to any of its executive officers.
In a securities filing ahead of its IPO last year, Uber said that West’s daughter drew a salary of between $110,000 to $210,000 and had been awarded an equity grant of stock initially valued at between $400,000 and $500,000 that vests over four years.
A LinkedIn profile for Meenakshi “Meena” Harris shows that the Harvard Law School graduate has served as a head of strategy and leadership at Uber since 2017. West joined San Francisco-based Uber in November of that year.