Good Technology Inc. was on to something big when it developed software that allows employees to securely access work files from their personal smartphones. The Sunnyvale, Calif.-based company’s suite of applications routes encrypted data through a cloud server and behind an employer’s firewall, all while keeping personal information separate from work data.
Demand for the company’s technology has skyrocketed as more people than ever tote smartphones and work remotely. Good Technology has nearly 800 employees — twice as many as when general counsel Ron Vaisbort joined in 2011 — and is rumored to be edging toward an initial public offering this year.
Vaisbort reports to chief executive officer Christy Wyatt, who joined in January after working for Citigroup Inc. and Motorola Inc. She replaced King Lee, who became Good Technology’s executive chairman.
Good Technology got its start in 1999 developing MP3 players before transitioning into creating software for the BlackBerry. It was acquired first by Motorola in 2007 and then, two years later, by Visto Corp., which adopted the Good Technology name.
The company holds 75 patents and has about 4,000 customers around the world, many in the health care and financial industries. Its applications work with iPhone, iPad, Android, BlackBerry and Windows phones.
Just two years ago, Good’s in-house legal department was a single attorney, Chris DiCarlo, who specializes in transactional and corporate work. Today, it has four in-house lawyers, Vaisbort included, all based in Sunnyvale. Jane Guthrie is the resident expert on international licensing and customer-related commercial negotiations. Marisa McGilliard, a former in-house counsel with Jive Software Inc., joined last year.
Vaisbort’s next hires will be a para­legal for the corporate office and an attorney based overseas to serve the growing international clientele, he said. He prefers to hire attorneys with corporate experience.
"The DNA of attorneys who’ve worked in-house, especially in technology environments, is different than outside lawyers," he said. "In a fast-growing company like Good, you really have to have your sea legs and know how to get things done in an in-house capacity."
Steven Pollinger in McKool Smith’s Austin, Texas, office handles patent litigation. Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati of Palo Alto, Calif., takes on corporate and general counsel matters, including securities work, stock options and board issues. Other firms around the world help with human resources, licensing and government affairs.
Anyone curious about Good Technol­ogy’s pending patent litigation can easily find the company’s court documents on its website, which says, "We invite you to hear our story and judge for yourself." The lawsuits, filed last November, allege patent infringement by competitors MobileIron Inc. of Mountain View, Calif., and AirWatch LLC of Atlanta.
"We wanted to be vocal about this, as innovators and as a technology company," Vaisbort said. "Many [customers] didn’t know the history — they didn’t know we had pioneered the technology — so the lawsuits were very educational to them. We felt the importance of transparency for our customers so they’d understand what we are doing and why."
Good Technology filed suit when "it became apparent that our competitors had acknowledged that Good had gotten it right. They embarked on a very obvious decision to essentially copy, reproduce our solutions," Vaisbort said. The cases were filed in federal court in San Jose, Calif.
The company has patent litigation pending in Texas. In January, it resolved a 2011 patent infringement case against Denmark-based mobile-device management company Excitor A/S, which agreed to pay cash and royalties.
The Wall Street Journal reported in March that Good Technology executives had met with investment bankers from four banks as a preliminary step toward taking the business public. Vaisbort wouldn’t comment about IPO prospects. But he did note that his responsibilities have included helping to transform the late-stage private company into what could be a public one.
He was hired, he said, "to clear the cobwebs and grow a legal department…from a 17-year-old startup into a company that could operate as a public company, that would have a culture of compliance, have very solid books and records and auditable set of business processes. That transformation has been under way for the past 2 1/2 years."
ROUTE TO THE TOP
Vaisbort received his undergraduate degree from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1988 and his law degree from Loyola Law School, Los Angeles in 1991.
His in-house experience includes four years at Trillium Digital Systems Inc. in Los Angeles. Vaisbort became an Intel Corp. employee in 2000, when Intel acquired Trillium for $300 million. He remained with Intel for six years. He joined Cloverfield Consulting Group in Irvine, Calif. He left in 2011 for Good Technology.
FAVORITE PART OF JOB
Vaisbort said that he most enjoys the diversity of his duties, including conferring with internal teams and customers and counseling employees globally on the company’s ethics policy.
"The chance to be involved in those crunchy, interesting conversations and be a coach, a mentor and a problem-­solver for our businesspeople, our technical people, is really what gets me up in the morning."
The best in-house lawyers anticipate problems, he said, and must have the patience to decipher highly technical matters and spreadsheets and communicate with engineers and finance team members.
He urges executive team members to meet regularly with customers to understand their concerns. "They’re licensing our technology as a mission-critical system," Vaisbort said, "and it’s important that we’re hearing what keeps them awake at night and what [problems] they’re trying to solve in partnering with Good."
Vaisbort and his wife, Audra, live in Palo Alto with sons Dante, 13, and Navarro, 5. He enjoys hiking, swimming, cooking and exploring Silicon Valley with his kids.
LAST BOOKS AND MOVIE
Wreck-It Ralph with the kids; Shantaram , by Gregory David Roberts and Cyber War: The Next Threat to National Security and What to Do About It, by Richard Clarke.