In the span of a year, Jorge del Calvo of Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman, had more deals hit nine figures or better than most dealmakers can count in a lifetime. Del Calvo represented InvenSense Inc. in its $1.3 billion sale to TDK Corp., Applied Micro Circuits Corp. in its $770 million sale to MACOM Technology Solutions Holdings Inc., and Chinese investment fund Beijing Shanhai Capital Management Co. in its acquisition of California-based semiconductor company Analogix for approximately $500 million. The Silicon Valley stalwart recently told The Recorder what it’s like to ride a wave of consolidation in a year like the one he just had.
What were your professional highlights of the past year? What made that deal or those deals stand out? During the last year, a number of my clients, including InvenSense, Exar, AMCC and AFOP, engaged in public-to-public M&A transactions. Each had (its) own challenges. These transactions were part of a wave of consolidation that swept the Silicon Valley last year. At the same time, the quality and quantity of our start-up practice increased dramatically. This year has been the most disruptive, in a positive way, in my practice since the first Internet boom of the late 1990s.
With which clients do you have the longest relationships? How far back do those relationships go? A number of my clients are serial entrepreneurs whose various companies I, in collaboration with other attorneys at my firm, have represented since the mid-1980s. Their companies have turned over through M&A and occasionally business failure on an individual basis over time, but we have continued to work with these entrepreneurs—and in some cases, their kids—on their next endeavor. The oldest private company is probably Xio, which is a spin-off from Berkeley Process, a prior client, and so traces its lineage more than 30 years. The oldest public company is Synnex, which we took public in 2003 and is now a Fortune 200 company by revenue.
Why do you think clients come back to you? What can they get from you that they don’t get from someone else? We try to differentiate based on understanding of our clients’ businesses, teamwork, quality of service, timeliness and efficiency. Comparisons based on these criteria, on a relative basis, are subjective and difficult to explain. I think it helps that I, and the team of Pillsbury lawyers I collaborate with, care about our clients as people, establish personal relationships with them and care deeply about the outcomes of the work we do in the same way they do.
For the type of work I do, people hire teams of lawyers and firms, not individuals so I think credit for the clients I serve is widely shared. Continuity in this regard is very important. The core team of the senior attorneys I work with has been together for 17 to 29 years.
I don’t like to say I am better than anyone else or unique, even in a pitch. That leads to hubris and can be off-putting to others. I try to focus on explaining what we do as a team and how we do it and let the clients make their own determination.
What’s more important in the current market and why: offering bespoke services or being efficient? I think being efficient is a prerequisite for sustaining a practice over time. I would add timeliness and quality as well. We are in a business that is very competitive and is becoming more so.
Outside your partners, who is another corporate lawyer you admire and why? Simon Leung, Synnex’s GC. Always the smartest lawyer in the room and never loses his cool. Manages more stuff in a week than I do in a year.
Can say the same thing about Richard Ogawa, the GC at Inphi. Never seen him and Simon in a room together so can’t compare.