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Salesforce, Zendesk Tap New Top Lawyers Amid Software Rivalry

Jan. 11, 2021, 6:32 PM

Salesforce.com Inc. and Zendesk Inc., competitors in the customer service software space, are starting 2021 with new general counsels.

Salesforce has promoted Todd Machtmes, executive vice president of commercial legal, while Zendesk has hired Shanti Ariker, a former member of the Israeli Defense Forces and one-time general counsel of Salesforce’s philanthropic arm.

Machtmes will assume his new position Feb. 1, the same day that the president and chief legal officer, Amy Weaver, becomes chief financial officer at Salesforce. Machtmes has spent nearly the past 16 years at the cloud-based software company, which he joined in 2005 after spending five years in-house at Adobe Systems Inc.

Ariker takes over from Hasani Caraway, who left Zendesk in November to become the first in-house legal chief at software startup Notions Labs Inc.

Media representatives for Salesforce and Zendesk confirmed to Bloomberg Law the respective appointments of Machtmes and Ariker.

Salesforce Stalwart

Machtmes, the new general counsel at Salesforce, wrote in a LinkedIn post that he was “honored and grateful to be part of such an incredible team” at the company.

His comments were in response to an announcement last week from his alma mater, the University of California, Hastings College of the Law, touting Machtmes’ ascension to Salesforce’s general counsel role.

Machtmes has held several other positions at Salesforce, including associate general counsel and senior corporate counsel. He began his legal career as an associate at California-based law firms Miller Starr Regalia and Ropers, Majeski, Kohn & Bentley.

Salesforce, which expects to close in July on its nearly $28 billion cash-and-stock acquisition of Slack Technologies Inc., didn’t respond to a request for comment about who else might join its in-house legal department upon the completion of the merger.

Slack’s current general counsel, David Schellhase, spent nearly nine years as Salesforce’s legal chief until he left the San Francisco-based company in 2011 for Groupon Inc., an e-commerce company he helped take public that same year. Slack, which went public in 2019, hired Schellhase in 2016.

Schellhase didn’t respond to a request for comment about whether he plans to rejoin Salesforce upon the completion of its union with Slack.

Salesforce recruited more than 25 in-house lawyers last year, according to a Bloomberg Law analysis of LinkedIn profiles and state bar association registries. Among the company’s additions were three corporate counsel—Danielle Cary, Adriana Kissel, and James Slater—all hired from Groupon.

Salesforce’s $1.4 billion buy of cloud software startup Vlocity Inc. last year also brought on the latter’s general counsel, Thomas O’Brien, as head of industries product legal and Vlocity associate general counsel Cynthia Jacobs as a senior corporate counsel.

World Traveler

Ariker was raised in Northern California but moved with her family to Israel after high school. She spent two years in the IDF, where she was part of an artillery unit, according to an online biography by Hebrew University, which Ariker attended.

During her legal career, which began in the mid-1990s at Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft and now-defunct Brobeck, Phleger & Harrison, Ariker spent 15 years working outside the U.S. in Canada, Japan, and Israel, per a 2018 discussion with her at the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law.

Ariker has spent time at a half-dozen companies, including electronic trading giant E*Trade Financial Corp., Canadian electronics manufacturer Celestica Inc., startup cloud computing platform LogicTier Inc., and software company Autodesk Inc.

At Zendesk, she joins a fast-growing software company that in 2019 debuted new products to better compete with Salesforce, according to Bloomberg News.

Zendesk hired Ariker in December from Twilio Inc., a cloud communications platform where she spent the past year as an assistant corporate secretary and deputy general counsel for commercial and corporate. Twilio snagged Ariker in late 2019 from Autodesk, which she joined the year prior as a senior corporate counsel for named accounts and customer access.

Autodesk added Ariker after she spent more than three years as general counsel, chief of staff, and corporate secretary for the Salesforce.com Foundation, a nonprofit started by Marc Benioff, the company’s billionaire founder, chairman, and CEO.

Before taking over the top legal job at Salesforce’s charity, Ariker was a senior corporate counsel and managing counsel at the company, where she helped launch a pro bono program that she coordinated.

In a March 2017 interview with the Association of Corporate Counsel, Ariker praised Weaver, Salesforce’s outgoing legal chief, for backing the initiative.

“We wouldn’t have reached 1,000 hours that we gave back in pro bono legal hours without her support,” Ariker said at the time.

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

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

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