Everyone’s favorite message disappearing app is reportedly preparing the paperwork to file an IPO as early as next March. Snap Inc., parent company of Snapchat, received a valuation of $17.8 billion in May, but a public offering next year could potentially price the company at $25 billion or more.
On October 12, 2016, the Berkeley Center for Law, Business and the Economy (BCLBE) welcomed Dave Kling (’97), Vice President, Deputy Counsel, and Corporate Secretary of Facebook for a Q&A discussion about his career, his role at Facebook, and the variety of legal challenges Facebook faces as a company.
On Tuesday, October 4, 2016, Reuters revealed that Yahoo secretly scanned user emails for the federal government in 2015. Anonymous former Yahoo employees alleged that members of either the National Security Agency or Federal Bureau of Investigation issued a warrant under Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligent Surveillance Act (FISA), asking Yahoo to create software to search key words and/or phrases of user emails as part of an ongoing government investigation. Shortly after, Yahoo created a syphoning system by which the government could tap into user emails in real time and search for specific character strings that they believed were connected to national security threats. Yahoo has not denied these allegations.
On October 10, 2016, the Berkeley Center for Law, Business and the Economy (BCLBE) hosted Kevin Kennedy, partner in Simpson Thacher’s corporate department and co-chair of the firm’s pro bono committee, for a discussion on navigating capital markets. Mr. Kennedy is also a member of the Boalt Hall Alumni Association.
The enduring conflict between San Francisco leaders and Airbnb, chiefly over the city’s housing crisis, was reignited on Thursday, October 6, 2016 in federal district court. U.S. District Judge James Donato expressed concern over a bid by Airbnb to stop a San Francisco law which imposes fines on the rental company, and other similar tech sites like HomeAway, for allowing bookings by hosts who have not registered with the city. He did not immediately issue a ruling.
After almost expiring last month, Congress renewed the EB-5 Immigrant Investment Program – which provides U.S. visas in exchange for large investments in U.S. businesses – until December 9. Although touted to create jobs where they are needed the most, allegations of fraud have marred the program’s effectiveness and caused some to question whether it should exist at all.
On October 5, 2016, the Supreme Court heard its first insider trading case in over 20 years. The case is Salman v. United States, and involves the insider trading conviction of Bassam Salman in 2013. Salman was convicted of placing profitable stock trades after receiving confidential information from his future brother-in-law, who was a part of Citigroup’s health care investment banking group.
In 1967, Sumner Redstone took over National Amusements, Inc., a family movie theater chain headquartered in Dedham, Massachusetts. Today, the company owns an 80 percent stake in CBS and Viacom, two of America’s leading media and entertainment conglomerates. Mr. Redstone, who is now 93 years old and rumored to be in failing health, has relinquished most of the control of the company to his daughter, Shari Redstone. In May of 2016, Ms. Redstone removed Phillipe Dauman and George Abrams, two long-time Redstone confidants, from Mr. Redstone’s trust in what some characterized as a “shameful” power play by Ms. Redstone. This marked the beginning of an unpleasant legal battle in which members of the Redstone family, along with longtime friends and advisors, challenged the patriarch’s mental capacity.
Trader Joe’s, a California-based grocery chain, is famous for its eclectic healthy products and its cult following. Pirate Joe’s, a proud knockoff, is notorious for its reselling of Trader Joe’s products in Canada at high prices. Court documents stated that $350,000 worth of Trader Joe’s goods were bought and resold in Pirate Joe’s stores. This was done largely via Pirate Joe’s founder, Michael Hallatt, purchasing or paying others to purchase Trader Joe’s products in Washington and drive them across the border.