Welcome to the FORWARD GC, a snackable newsletter with fresh takes on the legal news you need to start your day. Curated by friends at Lawtrades—a platform organizing the internet economy around legal people.
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This week: The SolarWinds hack is more widespread than you originally heard, and LinkedIn usage has been blowing up in the legal industry. Plus: How tech companies are rethinking liquidity alternatives.
Growing startups that wait a long time to go public sometimes face the problem of shareholder equity. Fortunately, there are new ways to handle it.
It goes like this: Employees who have vested stock options at thriving startups feel like they can’t leave. They either can’t afford to exercise the options or deal with the ensuing tax bill. Companies also don’t want to let employees freely sell the stock, believing it could confuse their equity capitalization tables.
But improved solutions are here: As Axios points out, outside companies help private startups act more like publicly-traded companies by letting employees sell back equity on a private platform.
AngelList (a Lawtrades customer) is hosting a platform for the startup Pipe: It’s part of the company’s secondary stock sales service. EquityZen, another Lawtrades customer, specializes as a pre-IPO equity platform.
The liquidity alternatives provided by the likes of AngelList and EquityZen are seen as beneficial for employees who cannot typically cash in on equity, no matter how long they’ve been at a private startup or what kind of financial needs they may have. Pipe CEO Harry Hurst said, “We’ve seen the evolution of capital come in and position themselves as ‘founder friendly’—I think the next phase is for founders to be more ‘team friendly.’”
Last week, we learned IT management company SolarWinds was hacked, likely by Russia, affecting them and some well-known clients. Among the thousands of infected companies who used SolarWinds’s compromised network monitoring software are Nvidia, Belkin, Cisco and Intel.
SecurityScorecard, the leading rater of corporate cybersecurity safety and a customer of Lawtrades, analyzed the hack. They came out with several interesting discoveries, as well as some important lessons.
How the hack happened
The perpetrators modified SolarWinds’s software package known as hotfix and posted the infected package on SolarWinds’s update site. SolarWinds’s clients then downloaded the updated, infected software.
SecurityScorecard had some exclusive findings
SolarWinds was hacked as early as October 2019. This was five months earlier than originally reported.
SolarWinds was still delivering infected components as of Dec. 18.
A lesson to remember
SecurityScorecard emphasized supply chain safety: “Companies everywhere should continuously monitor the digital assets associated with their supply chains to identify vulnerabilities, attack vectors, and other exploitable conditions that can lead to incidents such as data breaches, ransomware, or other cyber attacks.”
We’ll add this, too: You always need to have airtight policies set with your third party vendors.
Read the full post on SecurityScorecard’s blog for more info.
Move over Twitter and Facebook. Your buttoned-up, business-like cousin is taking over.
Usage has gone way up in the legal sector: Paid marketing from the legal sector on LinkedIn is up 68% YoY. It’s gone up even more in the last six months, according to Law.com.
Credit the new work-from-home lifestyle for part of this: But LinkedIn believes there are other factors, particularly an increased focus on thought leadership. Law firms and individual lawyers want to promote their expertise and LinkedIn is seen as a professional venue for it.
But what types of posts are actually gaining traction?
Jay Plum, director of communications at Bracewell, told Law.com the firm has tried short-form videos that explain complex topics. The videos show legal expertise and provide a platform for the firm’s lawyers.
It’s not just paid advertising, either. Lawyers and firms are just posting more and more. The CMO for Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld said the firm closed out 2020 having 400% more posts on LinkedIn than last year.
What else we’re forwarding
The cable networks that bashed voting machines the last several weeks could pay: Defamation lawsuits are coming, and they could cost the likes of Fox News and OAN hundreds of millions of dollars.
The lawyers leading Big Tech’s antitrust cases really know their stuff: That’s because many are former Big Tech employees.
I want to take this opportunity to thank all of our readers — especially those of you who became Lawtrades customers this year — for all of your support. Each year we get bigger and better and we can’t wait to grow and improve in 2021.
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Until next time,
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