The following is an excerpt from Practice Perspectives: Vault’s Guide to Legal Practice Areas.
Wenting Yu, Counsel—Emerging Companies/Venture Capital
Wenting Yu is a corporate transactional lawyer specializing in securities offerings, venture financings, mergers and acquisitions, and other corporate transactions. She regularly assists startup, midsize, and large companies across a variety of industries. Wenting provides her clients with innovative legal approaches to complex transactions and works diligently to position her clients for success.
Describe your practice area and what it entails.
I represent emerging companies throughout their lifespans, from early-stage matters such as legal entity formation, corporate structure/strategy, equity/debt financings, commercial/strategic transactions, and founder/employee matters to more mature-stage matters like mergers and acquisitions, public offerings, and public company compliance.
I also represent financial/strategic investors and acquirers in connection with their investments in and acquisitions of emerging companies.
What types of clients do you represent?
On the emerging companies side, I represent private (venture-backed) and public technology and life sciences companies, including Finisar, Ultratech, Gladly, Yellowbrick, Hua Medicine, Brii Biosciences, MicuRx, and KBP Biosciences.
On the investor/acquisition side, I represent VC/PE funds and strategic investors, such as Alibaba, Ant Financial, Gates Ventures, Fidelity, PIF, Lightspeed Venture, GGV Capital, Ping An Ventures, HNA Capital, Vivo Capital, ZZ Capital, Steamboat Ventures, and Virtus Inspire Ventures.
What types of cases/deals do you work on?
I work on general corporate, venture financings, M&A, IPO, and public company compliance matters. Representative deals include:
• Brii Biosciences’ $260M Series A and Series B financings.
• Hua Medicine’s $117M Series D and Series E financings and $110M IPO.
• Gladly’s $50M Series D and $36M Series C financings.
• eHi Car Services Limited’s $400M unsecured notes offering.
• Gates Ventures’ VC investments.
• Ant Financial’s strategic investments.
• Pharmaron’s strategic acquisitions of various U.S. assets/businesses.
• Shanghai Haohai Biological Technology’s strategic acquisitions of various U.S. assets/businesses.
How did you choose this practice area?
I started my career in New York as a capital markets lawyer and moved to Silicon Valley when I was a third-year associate. I moved to Silicon Valley partly for family reasons and partly because I wanted to do more company-side work, work closely with founders and investors, and get exposed to a lot of cutting-edge technology and interesting developments in the space.
What is a typical day like and/or what are some common tasks you perform?
I typically juggle 5-10 different clients/matters a day, ranging from reviewing, drafting, or negotiating transaction documents to attending board meetings to answering client calls and in-the-moment business and legal questions.
What training, classes, experience, or skills development would you recommend to someone who wishes to enter your practice area?
Passion and curiosity about the tech industry and the startup and venture world would be the key. Additionally, being patient and proactive with clients and being a pragmatic problem-solver would carry you a long way in this practice.
What is the most challenging aspect of your practice area?
The most challenging part is that emerging company lawyers typically manage more than a dozen active company clients or deals at the same time and need to be on top of the latest legal/business developments for each client and proactively advise clients in various matters. Many emerging companies do not have an in-house legal team and typically rely on outside counsel for all of their legal (or quasi-legal) matters—from day-to-day maintenance—such as cap table management and option grants—to financings and strategic transactions. Additionally, a lot of the company founders are first-time entrepreneurs, requiring outside counsel to think ahead for them and spot potential issues before a problem becomes a problem.
What do you like best about your practice area?
Emerging company lawyers get to work with passionate, insightful founders and investors and become part of the team that brings the business success. I also enjoy being a business/strategic adviser and providing creative, pragmatic solutions to emerging company clients in addition to being an outside legal counsel. I also like that young professionals in this practice typically have significant responsibility, substantive work, and opportunities to develop relationships with clients and bring business early in their career.
What are some typical tasks that a junior lawyer would perform in this practice area?
Junior lawyers tend to have substantive responsibility and direct client contact earlier than they would in some other practice areas. Typical tasks include conducting legal research and due diligence; drafting primary and ancillary financing and merger documents; and assisting clients with various day-to-day legal matters such as board minutes, stock issuances/transfers, option grants, commercial agreements, etc.
What are some typical career paths for lawyers in this practice area?
Entrepreneurs are generally more appreciative of the value provided by their outside counsel. A lot of the entrepreneurs are first-time founders and need a lot of close, day-to-day involvement from their outside counsel to guide them through all stages of company growth. They like prompt, responsive, and pragmatic solutions rather than extensive written legal analysis or opinions.