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EquityBee Taps Former BlackRock Director Smith as Legal Boss (2)

Nov. 18, 2021, 7:22 PMUpdated: Nov. 18, 2021, 10:53 PM

EquityBee Inc., which connects employees at startups with investors, has named former BlackRock Inc. director Kevin Smith as its new chief legal officer.

Smith is focusing on new product development and rollout at Palo Alto, Calif.-based EquityBee, in addition to building the legal and compliance team.

“EquityBee’s mission is creating new financial tools to allow the world’s startup builders to become shareholders,” Smith said in the statement. “That’s a cause and a team I really want to be part of.”

Smith told Bloomberg Law that he was impressed by EquityBee’s mission and execution. He officially joined the startup in late June after weighing various options and going with the role that his mother said she thought would be a good fit.

EquityBee helps employees raise funds to exercise certain stock options. It counts WeWork founder and former CEO Adam Neumann among its investors. Neumann led EquityBee’s $1.5 million seed round in September 2018, and the startup recently ended a $55 million Series B funding round led by Group 11 and Greenfield Partners.

“The happiest place a startup can ever be is having investors that are so excited about the future of the company that they want to provide the fuel for you to continue growing,” Smith said.

EquityBee is just one of the many startups and companies that have received investments from Neumann and his family office. Others include mortgage servicing startup Peach Street Inc., accommodation and co-working provider Selina, and do-it-yourself platform Hometalk.

Earlier in his career, Smith was a director at BlackRock and a principal at Barclays Global Investors, which was later acquired by BlackRock. He started his career with Davis Polk & Wardwell and has also worked for companies like Cardio Health.

His past work “is an important asset and will additionally promote EquityBee as a category leader in the fast-evolving fintech marketplace,” said company CEO Oren Barzilai in the statement.

“We anticipate really substantial growth month over month and over the next couple of years, both growth in number of customers and revenue but also in the types of products and the number of products and the different ways that we can help to enrich customers lives,” Smith said, adding that he expects to hire more legal and compliance experts.

(Added information from Smith. Corrected value of Series B funding round.)

To contact the reporter on this story: Ruiqi Chen in Washington, D.C. at rchen@bloombergindustry.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Chris Opfer at copfer@bloomberglaw.com;
John Hughes in Washington at jhughes@bloombergindustry.com