Foley & Lardner LLP recently hosted a private event in collaboration with the National Association of Corporate Directors (NACD) Northern California Chapter. Foley Partners Louis Lehot and Natasha Allen, along with Lisa Spivey and Haley Huckin of NACD, welcomed more than 25 directors from Silicon Valley companies for a discussion on governance issues percolating amidst some of the most turbulent and volatile markets since the great financial crisis.
The discussion was led by Lehot in conversation with Executive Director & Adjunct Professor at UC Hastings College of the Law, Evan Epstein.
To set the stage, we framed the current context, noting the tremendous growth in capital markets in the last two years, but that we seem to be entering a new down cycle. In public markets, the S&P 500 has fallen, and the Nasdaq composite is now entered a bear market. Perhaps more importantly, private markets have been growing at record rates. Since 2009, fundraising in the private markets has outpaced fundraising in the public markets. The number of private companies is growing and they are staying private for longer. The term “Unicorn” has become ubiquitous, there are now well over 1,000 unicorns, valued cumulatively at $3.6 trillion (per CB Insights).
However, there has also been a steady stream of downrounds, layoffs, shutdowns and new enforcement actions from the SEC and DOJ. The need for independent directors and increased corporate governance in private companies has never been more clear, while their assertive oversight in public companies never more needed. In this environment of boom to bust, enforcement agencies such as the SEC and the DOJ are looking to step up their reliance on existing laws and regulations.
Foley’s Silicon Valley corporate attorneys have supported investors, sponsors, directors and executives of public and private companies and investment funds throughout the entire range of the investment spectrum for nearly half a century. Foley supports the National Association of Corporate Directors throughout the United States and beyond, from garage to global, with practical and strategic legal solutions that make sense.