🔊 Podcast #9 - Getaround's Andrew Byrnes on Lawyering and Leadership in Silicon Valley and Washington
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Andrew shares the lessons from transitioning among legal and leadership roles.
A team with a passion for the mission is indispensable when dealing with unexpected challenges.
Finding the fundamental question of a business can open up insights in development.
On this episode, we interviewed Andrew Byrnes, Deputy General Counsel of Getaround. Andrew has an interesting career trajectory that includes a long run in Big Law, a senior Obama administration official at the USPTO and working in-house within tech for companies like Uber.
We cover Andrew’s career track, lessons from practicing in government and in-house. We talk about how the pandemic affected Getaround’s business and how they were able to overcome adversity in their subsequent rebound.
Andrew’s Legal History
After law school in the 90s, Andrew spent 11 years at at Heller Ehrman and 5 years at Covington and Burling.
Chief of Staff at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
General Counsel at Shuddle
Executive VP and General Counsel at PresenceLearning.
Senior Legal Director at Uber.
Currently Deputy General Counsel at Getaround.
Coming into an agency as substantive as the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, the “rigor of analysis and building/management of teams” from intellectual property litigation was very important.
The largest difference is the client. In a law firm, your client is a company/companies, but in the government the client is the American people.
Transferring out of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to In-House was helped by the more business-like operations of the PTO.
Similarities in breadth of concern also transferred well, e.g. being concerned with the long term well being of the agency and being concerned with everything going at the company as a General Counsel.
The Journey From PTO to Uber
Shuddle was a ridesharing service that aimed to allow parents to leverage ridesharing for children.
Marketplace providing telehealth services to kids with special needs.
Role at Uber
Andrew was the Senior Legal Director at Uber, essentially the principal general counsel of the rideshare business.
The question of “How do people access opportunities by traveling from one place to another” is both energizing and challenging.
Understanding the Product Counsel role
Product Counsel worked closely with the business - product managers, engineer, business managers.
The close connection with the business offered the opportunity to observe the ridesharing platform around the world.
From Uber to Getaround
Getaround is a connected, contactless carsharing marketplace.
Example: Andrew used Getaround to book a pickup truck to pick up a desk. Hardware in the truck allowed him easy access to the vehicle and he booked and returned the vehicle without meeting the owner."
Uber provided the experience of leading a team of product counsel working closely with the ridesharing business, which positioned Andrew well to judge Getaround and mobility from a birds-eye view.
Role at Getaround
What are your responsibilities as Getaround's Deputy General Counsel?"
Providing support for a wide variety of legal matters.
The primary focus is public policy, government relations, privacy, regulatory, product legal, and intellectual property.
The relatively small legal team means that everyone is required to be a generalist.
How was Getaround Impacted by COVID?
Although Getaround is contactless, the pandemic still caused bookings to drop 75%.
By late summer, Getaround's bookings doubled from their pre-COVID baseline.
This may be due to people taking advantage of Getaround's contactless experience, and concerns about other modalities.
How was morale maintained during the period where the survival of Getaround was unsure?
The team focused on working to procure COVID-19 related aid.
The team kept optimistic and visibly working hard to help the company.
A real optimism and passion for the mission helped keep people motivated.
What is the future of mobility / self driving cars?
The acronym ACES (Autonomous, Connected, Electric, Shared) is an indicator of the future of mobility.
Even in the case that there are no human-driven cars, there will still be a need for a framework for connecting people with destinations to those vehicles.
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