As has been typical under general counsel Erika Rottenberg, LinkedIn Corp. turned to deal lawyers at Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati for its purchase of two San Francisco-based software companies over the past 10 days.
Palo Alto-based partner Bradley Finkelstein led teams advising the Mountain View-based professional networking site on its purchases of Newsle Inc. for an undisclosed amount and Bizo Inc. for $175 million. LinkedIn announced its purchase of news-tracking platform Newsle on July 14 and its purchase of marketing software company Bizo on Tuesday.
They are likely the last two deals to be done under Rottenberg, who is in her last week with the company. New LinkedIn GC Michael Callahan, who starts Monday, typically turned to Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom and Latham & Watkins for corporate work back when he was leading Yahoo Inc.’s legal department.
Finkelstein didn’t return a call about his work for LinkedIn, but GC transitions generally can be a fraught time for relationship partners.
“It’s one of those moments where it’s time to worry more than others,” said legal consultant Peter Zeughauser. “My sense is that Wilson has a strong relationship with LinkedIn, but no firms are immune to competition.” LinkedIn’s ties to Wilson are extensive. Palo Alto-based partner and vice chairman Jeffrey Saper helped take the company public in 2011. In March, Finkelstein helped lead another team in the company’s $120 million purchase of Bright Media Corp.
Still, the transition could give other firms an opening. During his nine years as GC at Yahoo, Callahan called on Latham’s Ora Fisher for multiple transactions, including its acquisitions of Maktoob.com Inc., Interclick Inc. and Right Media Inc. Those deals fetched purchasing prices of $167 million, $270 million and $850 million, respectively.
Fisher didn’t respond to a phone message seeking comment. Skadden’s Palo Alto partners Kenton King and Leif King also represented Yahoo frequently during Callahan’s tenure. Kenton King represented the company on its purchase of Maven Networks Inc. and BlueLithium Inc. and in 2008, he helped the company navigate around a $47 billion hostile takeover bid from Microsoft Corp. Leif King represented Yahoo on several other deals, including Yahoo’s titanic agreement to sell its roughly 40 percent stock in Alibaba for more than $7 billion.
Callahan started his career as a Skadden associate, but the firm did work for Yahoo even before he took the top job there. Kenton King could not be reached for comment; Leif King declined.
Representing Bizo in the deal was a Fenwick & West team that included Mountain View-based partners Ted Wang, R. Gregory Roussel and Adam Halpern and San Francisco-based partners Blake Martell and Ralph Pais.
San Francisco-based associate Kee Bong Kim and Mountain View-based associates Lara Muller, Kristin O’Hanlon, Michael Riskin and William Skinner also worked on the deal, with Seattle-based associate Ashley Walter.
Wilson Sonsini’s team on the Bizo acquisition included Palo Alto-based partners Ivan Humphreys and Scott McCall and associates Andrew Ellis, Sumin Kim, Myra Sutanto Shen, Jessica Bliss and Mark Cornillez-Ty. San Francisco-based associates Peter Chess and Mark Woods and attorneys in Washington, D.C., Austin, Texas and New York aided in the transaction. The Newsle team was largely the same, with the exception of associates Kim and Cornillez-Ty.
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