Entertainment Lawyer --> Start-Up BizDev Taking Q's

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Re: Entertainment Lawyer --> Start-Up BizDev Taking Q's

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Apr 30, 2012 12:50 pm

In the position you were in, at a firm and before your lateral to your current position, how much risk would you say you were actually taking by leaving? That is, you mentioned above that it is a "calculated risk" when moving to an early stage start up. When you were at the firm, it seems that you were exposed to a number of different opportunities in this early stage start up sphere. Because you were able to pick and choose the start up you would move to, do you think this risk can be reasonably diminished?

Also, you mentioned that going to a platform is the better way to reap significant financial returns. If this were someone's primary objective (or if it had been yours), based on the experience you brought and the associated equity you would be able to obtain, how much money do you think could have been on the table and in what period of time?

Thanks

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Re: Entertainment Lawyer --> Start-Up BizDev Taking Q's

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Apr 30, 2012 2:29 pm

Thanks for taking questions again! These threads have been really informative and helpful.

I was wondering which practice groups you think are best for eventually working with start-ups in a combinatorial type of role similar to the one you have? What type of legal issues do you most often face in your current role?

Thanks!

PwnLaw
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Re: Entertainment Lawyer --> Start-Up BizDev Taking Q's

Postby PwnLaw » Mon Apr 30, 2012 11:44 pm

Anonymous User wrote:In the position you were in, at a firm and before your lateral to your current position, how much risk would you say you were actually taking by leaving? That is, you mentioned above that it is a "calculated risk" when moving to an early stage start up. When you were at the firm, it seems that you were exposed to a number of different opportunities in this early stage start up sphere. Because you were able to pick and choose the start up you would move to, do you think this risk can be reasonably diminished?

Also, you mentioned that going to a platform is the better way to reap significant financial returns. If this were someone's primary objective (or if it had been yours), based on the experience you brought and the associated equity you would be able to obtain, how much money do you think could have been on the table and in what period of time?

Thanks


Lol, the lawyer is strong with you my friend. It was a calculated risk in the sense that I was evaluating what would happen to my career if I exited the law firm and started moving down a business path. At earlier startups its just super speculative what the upside is going to be. If you hit it, you can hit it big. There are a ton of factors to consider (what #employee your are, growth trajectory, vesting schedule, market momentum, etc.), so it's hard to attach a number to it. You don't join startups to get rich, you join them to make things in cool environments. Getting rich is a side effect.

All of that said, if any of the startups I join hit it, I stand to make a about 1-2 million for a ~3 year investment (for a decent outcome). If I had joined some platforms at the earlier stages it would have been a multiple of that.

I have friends that are worth 9 digits by 35. Others that are on their 3-4th failed startup. It's a game, and you don't play it for the money.

PwnLaw
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Re: Entertainment Lawyer --> Start-Up BizDev Taking Q's

Postby PwnLaw » Mon Apr 30, 2012 11:46 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Thanks for taking questions again! These threads have been really informative and helpful.

I was wondering which practice groups you think are best for eventually working with start-ups in a combinatorial type of role similar to the one you have? What type of legal issues do you most often face in your current role?

Thanks!


Corporate. IP Transactional.

I'm the GC, so it's a wide range. Most of it is contract negotiations stemming from my business development activities. But I also handle employment issues, corporate questions, dispute resolution and real estate stuff. If it isn't something I understand/don't want to do I outsource it. It helps that our outside counsel is my best friend, so I don't need to worry about shenanigans.

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Re: Entertainment Lawyer --> Start-Up BizDev Taking Q's

Postby Anonymous User » Fri May 04, 2012 11:24 am

Not sure if you're still around (b/c this thread is a few days old). I'm going to be in Northern California for a 2L SA position for the summer. I'm interested in eventually working for startups and I'm not sure if there's a clear path from the law firm I'm working at (given their practice areas).

Any suggestions for where to network/meet people in the startup world?

PwnLaw
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Re: Entertainment Lawyer --> Start-Up BizDev Taking Q's

Postby PwnLaw » Wed May 09, 2012 2:55 am

Anonymous User wrote:Not sure if you're still around (b/c this thread is a few days old). I'm going to be in Northern California for a 2L SA position for the summer. I'm interested in eventually working for startups and I'm not sure if there's a clear path from the law firm I'm working at (given their practice areas).

Any suggestions for where to network/meet people in the startup world?


Just PM me and I'll meet with you when you make it out here.

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Re: Entertainment Lawyer --> Start-Up BizDev Taking Q's

Postby Anonymous User » Wed May 16, 2012 7:28 pm

PwnLaw wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:In the position you were in, at a firm and before your lateral to your current position, how much risk would you say you were actually taking by leaving? That is, you mentioned above that it is a "calculated risk" when moving to an early stage start up. When you were at the firm, it seems that you were exposed to a number of different opportunities in this early stage start up sphere. Because you were able to pick and choose the start up you would move to, do you think this risk can be reasonably diminished?

Also, you mentioned that going to a platform is the better way to reap significant financial returns. If this were someone's primary objective (or if it had been yours), based on the experience you brought and the associated equity you would be able to obtain, how much money do you think could have been on the table and in what period of time?

Thanks


Lol, the lawyer is strong with you my friend. It was a calculated risk in the sense that I was evaluating what would happen to my career if I exited the law firm and started moving down a business path. At earlier startups its just super speculative what the upside is going to be. If you hit it, you can hit it big. There are a ton of factors to consider (what #employee your are, growth trajectory, vesting schedule, market momentum, etc.), so it's hard to attach a number to it. You don't join startups to get rich, you join them to make things in cool environments. Getting rich is a side effect.

All of that said, if any of the startups I join hit it, I stand to make a about 1-2 million for a ~3 year investment (for a decent outcome). If I had joined some platforms at the earlier stages it would have been a multiple of that.

I have friends that are worth 9 digits by 35. Others that are on their 3-4th failed startup. It's a game, and you don't play it for the money.


Just a quick question on the bolded. In an ideal world, of course it would be likely to make a multiple on the $1-2 million for a ~3 year investment at a platform. But were you in the position to make the jump to these types of platforms at early stages based on your firm experience? Also, does "early stages" mean that your commitment would be more than the 3 years?

I am just wondering whether you interact with these startups during their early stages while you are at a firm. Also curious as to how the compensation structure works out - I know some equity, some salary, but what is the equity typically like in these situations? I know it would probably matter what stage the company is in (how many employees and whether it had received financing yet). But could you give me a rough estimate based on the stage/size of startups that you come in contact with at the firm you were at?

Also, how many years do you have to be at a firm before these opportunities are presented/possible?

Thanks.

PwnLaw
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Re: Entertainment Lawyer --> Start-Up BizDev Taking Q's

Postby PwnLaw » Fri Jun 01, 2012 1:49 am

Anonymous User wrote:
PwnLaw wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:In the position you were in, at a firm and before your lateral to your current position, how much risk would you say you were actually taking by leaving? That is, you mentioned above that it is a "calculated risk" when moving to an early stage start up. When you were at the firm, it seems that you were exposed to a number of different opportunities in this early stage start up sphere. Because you were able to pick and choose the start up you would move to, do you think this risk can be reasonably diminished?

Also, you mentioned that going to a platform is the better way to reap significant financial returns. If this were someone's primary objective (or if it had been yours), based on the experience you brought and the associated equity you would be able to obtain, how much money do you think could have been on the table and in what period of time?

Thanks


Lol, the lawyer is strong with you my friend. It was a calculated risk in the sense that I was evaluating what would happen to my career if I exited the law firm and started moving down a business path. At earlier startups its just super speculative what the upside is going to be. If you hit it, you can hit it big. There are a ton of factors to consider (what #employee your are, growth trajectory, vesting schedule, market momentum, etc.), so it's hard to attach a number to it. You don't join startups to get rich, you join them to make things in cool environments. Getting rich is a side effect.

All of that said, if any of the startups I join hit it, I stand to make a about 1-2 million for a ~3 year investment (for a decent outcome). If I had joined some platforms at the earlier stages it would have been a multiple of that.

I have friends that are worth 9 digits by 35. Others that are on their 3-4th failed startup. It's a game, and you don't play it for the money.


Just a quick question on the bolded. In an ideal world, of course it would be likely to make a multiple on the $1-2 million for a ~3 year investment at a platform. But were you in the position to make the jump to these types of platforms at early stages based on your firm experience? Also, does "early stages" mean that your commitment would be more than the 3 years?

I am just wondering whether you interact with these startups during their early stages while you are at a firm. Also curious as to how the compensation structure works out - I know some equity, some salary, but what is the equity typically like in these situations? I know it would probably matter what stage the company is in (how many employees and whether it had received financing yet). But could you give me a rough estimate based on the stage/size of startups that you come in contact with at the firm you were at?

Also, how many years do you have to be at a firm before these opportunities are presented/possible?

Thanks.


You can land a platform gig based on firm experience, but generally not in a position that will get you a chunk of equity. Lawyers usually get cash, not points. That's because a lawyer is generally not needed in house during the early stages of a company when equity is cheap but cash is valuable. If you want to get into the early stage start up game, you generally need to bring multiple skill sets to the table (like I do business development, marketing, legal and game design).

You never really know how long it's going to take to get to the finish line, but you should plan on at least 2-4 years (depending on the status of the company, the market and the trajectory). It's 2-4 years because you'll need to vest into your stock and it's hard to negotiate triggers without leverage (which a lot of lawyers don't have).

I dealt with the full range. I had clients what were pre-seed all the way to post-IPO. A lot depends on who you are networking with and what type of work your firm does. If you're at a Valley firm, you'll be dealing with just about everyone.

Equity/money is super context dependent (financing, senority, # of people, trajectory, cash on hand, available equity pool, etc.). You can expect a pretty big drop when moving to a startup -- often 50% or more. If they're post A, you'll be lucky to get 1 point. If you're a founder, it's substantially more. Pre-seed has a very broad range depending on circumstance.

To be honest with you, if money is your primary consideration, you're not meant for startups. They're a terrible career bet for people looking to maximize value.

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Re: Entertainment Lawyer --> Start-Up BizDev Taking Q's

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Jun 01, 2012 3:00 am

Thanks for the info. I'm a rising 2L with minimal networking experience. I can bring web development/programming skills to the table, but no other specialized skillsets. My question is, how should I begin making my legal "knowledge" valuable? Clearly just doing the courses in law school isn't enough -- how can I gain knowledge that is specifically geared toward the problems that startups face with contracts, IP, etc.? And how should I be marketing my lawyer-ness to these startups when I begin networking? Simply, "I'm a lawyer, and I'm very interested in your company, tell me more, here's my card?" I'm a bit lost for how to approach this. I am in an area with a high volume of tech startups and the culture of tech innovation surrounding startups has always been a passion of mine.

PwnLaw
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Re: Entertainment Lawyer --> Start-Up BizDev Taking Q's

Postby PwnLaw » Sat Jun 02, 2012 12:48 am

Anonymous User wrote:Thanks for the info. I'm a rising 2L with minimal networking experience. I can bring web development/programming skills to the table, but no other specialized skillsets. My question is, how should I begin making my legal "knowledge" valuable? Clearly just doing the courses in law school isn't enough -- how can I gain knowledge that is specifically geared toward the problems that startups face with contracts, IP, etc.? And how should I be marketing my lawyer-ness to these startups when I begin networking? Simply, "I'm a lawyer, and I'm very interested in your company, tell me more, here's my card?" I'm a bit lost for how to approach this. I am in an area with a high volume of tech startups and the culture of tech innovation surrounding startups has always been a passion of mine.


Genuine curiosity is often enough to get the ball rolling. Talk to anyone and everyone in the industry -- you can't be choosey when you're starting out. It took me about 18 months before I was networking with C-level people consistently at start ups. Before that I spent an enormous amount of time studying/learning about the industry and talking to everyone. I read everything I could get my hands on (trade journals, blogs, books, S1 Filings from IPOing start ups, etc.).

Read the book by Dale Carnegie "How to Win Friends and Influence People", so much of networking is about being genuinely interested in the person you are talking to and giving them a chance to be the center of attention. You can worry about demonstrating value later on once you've got a decent bit of knowledge under your belt.

As for contract knowledge, I'd start with a simple google search and read all of the contracts that pop up. Then I'd compare the essential terms and try to determine why those terms vary. It's how I initially learned about developer/publisher deals in video games.

PwnLaw
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Update

Postby PwnLaw » Sun Dec 30, 2012 4:33 am

Just got a message from someone and decided to check back in.

True story: I'm a game designer now. Still do business development and handle the legal end, but it's about 20% of my time. Careers are pretty odd creatures sometimes.

Anyways, I can answer questions about getting a job and working in BigLaw, working in/for the entertainment industry, building a book of business, transitioning from a firm to an in house position, startups, and the video game industry.

dyskim
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Re: Entertainment Lawyer --> Start-Up BizDev Taking Q's

Postby dyskim » Mon Dec 31, 2012 10:10 am

PwnLaw wrote:Just got a message from someone and decided to check back in.

True story: I'm a game designer now. Still do business development and handle the legal end, but it's about 20% of my time. Careers are pretty odd creatures sometimes.

Anyways, I can answer questions about getting a job and working in BigLaw, working in/for the entertainment industry, building a book of business, transitioning from a firm to an in house position, startups, and the video game industry.


If your first job coming out of law school is a practice outside of the entertainment industry, how possible/likely is it to be able to lateral later into an entertainment practice?

PwnLaw
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Re: Entertainment Lawyer --> Start-Up BizDev Taking Q's

Postby PwnLaw » Thu Jan 03, 2013 5:39 am

dyskim wrote:
PwnLaw wrote:Just got a message from someone and decided to check back in.

True story: I'm a game designer now. Still do business development and handle the legal end, but it's about 20% of my time. Careers are pretty odd creatures sometimes.

Anyways, I can answer questions about getting a job and working in BigLaw, working in/for the entertainment industry, building a book of business, transitioning from a firm to an in house position, startups, and the video game industry.


If your first job coming out of law school is a practice outside of the entertainment industry, how possible/likely is it to be able to lateral later into an entertainment practice?


Highly dependent on context.

There are a number of firms with entertainment practices that you can move into after a few years (my firm was somewhat atypical among larger firms in that it allowed 1st years to practice with entertainment clients). If you aren't at a firm with a pre-existing entertainment practice, then you'll need to lateral. Generally you need to have very good credentials (top firm, top school), 4-5 years of relevant experience (sophisticated civil litigation, financing instruments, licensing) and ideally be located in LA.

If you have none of these things, you can expect a pretty rough road.




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