Venture capital lawyers fight ‘cost centers’: legal department view
Having practiced law for nearly 20 years, primarily in the startup world, Win Chevapravatdumrong needed a change.
So, after six years as General Counsel at MasterClass, he left the online education provider to become a partner and first head of legal affairs at M13 Ventures Management LLC. He applies what he learned as an in-house lawyer to help founders build their businesses.
“Strong in-house counsel navigates risks and does not get in the way to support business growth,” Chevapravatdumrong said in an interview.
Brothers Courtney and Carter Reum, married to celebrity Paris Hilton, started M13 in 2016 after working as investment bankers at Goldman Sachs Group. , in the area of Southern California that has been home to his scene of emerging startups.
Chevapravatdumrong said he didn’t even know Reum before taking the job, but he had traveled in startup circles similar to the founders’ and was familiar with some of M13’s partners.
“Incredible talent, remote work and access to generation-defining technology” gravitated him to M13, Chevapravatdumrong aid.
He said he works with portfolio companies to be part of a “propulsion platform” that enables founders to “quickly and efficiently scale” across verticals such as brand, data, growth, operations, people and products. He said.
“I can’t think of a better time for entrepreneurship and the opportunity to work with founders pursuing innovative ideas and businesses,” he said. “Personally, this means not only applying what I learned as a general counsel, but also applying it while wearing other hats.
These issues include business development, human resources, intellectual property, privacy, regulation and tax, Chevapravatdumrong said.
The sale of Silicon Valley Bank a month ago impacted venture capital firms like M13.
Chevapravatdumrong said he kept abreast of developments in the banking sector, which helped “form practical advice for both M13 and our portfolio companies.”
As an in-house lawyer, Chevapravatdumrong said he had to fight the view that ‘legal is just a cost center’.
Chevapravatdumrong began his career practicing start-ups at Latham & Watkins in Los Angeles before holding corporate legal roles at streaming media service Hulu and now-defunct internet video startup Vessel.
Most recently, he was the first general counsel for MasterClass, owned by Yanka Industries Inc., where he left the company in January after building the privately held legal function.
Chevapravatdumrong said he saw firsthand the value that a “well-organized and highly functional legal team” could provide. His advice to lawyers is “learn how to quantify it so you can explain your impact.”
San Francisco-based MasterClass promoted Associate General Counsel Kevin Yung to General Counsel in March to succeed Chevapravatdumrong. The company cut his 20% of its workforce in 2022 and laid off even more this year.
Masterclass declined to comment.
M13’s “main differentiator” is that by relying on partners who are operators or individuals who have previously worked in startups, rather than investors with traditional financial backgrounds, the company It’s about bringing “a fresh perspective to venture investing,” Chevapravatdumrong said.
The business versus investor debate has been a hot topic in the venture capital world in recent years.
Chevapravatdumrong said he is M13’s only in-house lawyer, but M13 has at least one partner with legal background, Anna Barber.
M13’s new general counsel has refused to discuss his desire for outside counsel. Cooley last year handled the formation of his $400 million flagship fund for M13 and also advised the company on its second round of funding in 2019.
Hilton isn’t officially part of M13, but the company advertises her business expertise on its website. Chevapravatdumrong said she met the heiress of her hotel and described her as “a strong business woman and entrepreneur who I would like to work with as much as possible.”
Chevapravatdumrong herself is no stranger to celebrity. His sister is Cherry Chevapravatdamron, a lawyer who gave up his Big Law career to become a writer, comedian and screenwriter.
Among her Hollywood highlights is a movie she wrote this summer called Joy Ride, and is executive producer on the animated sitcom Family Guy.