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Is Silicon Valley Different?: A Conversation with Vice Chancellor J. Travis Laster, Delaware Court of Chancery


March 10, 2014 5:30pm - 7:30pm

Room 190

5:30 pm: Reception
6:00 pm - 7:00 pm: Conversation

About the Event: Many Silicon Valley companies are marked by the presence of dual and triple class structures, resulting in a concentration of voting power in founders even after the IPO. They face potential conflicts of interest between and among classes of preferred and common stock, between and among founders and key employees and investors, and between and among the portfolio firms backed by VCs and boards on which VCs serve. Relationships in Silicon Valley are also part of a thick social structure that tends to be highly networked and involve repeat players. In addition, the success of failure of VC-backed firms often depends most critically on technology and market factors that are not directly governed by the corporate governance process. Many founders, and some VCs, are also quite young, fairly inexperienced in legal matters, and do not expect to be repeat players in the litigation game. The Rock Center for Corporate Governance presented a discussion between Professor Joe Grundfest and Vice Chancellor J. Travis Laster, Delaware Court of Chancery, about how, if at all, these observations may affect the application and evolution of traditional governance notions common to Delaware law.

The Honorable J. Travis Laster was sworn in as Vice Chancellor of the Court of Chancery on October 9, 2009. Prior to his appointment, he was one of the founding partners of Abrams & Laster LLP, a corporate law boutique specializing in high stakes litigation involving Delaware corporations and other business entities, and advising on transactional matters carrying a significant risk of litigation. Before forming Abrams & Laster, he was a director in the Corporate Department of Richards, Layton & Finger P.A. Before joining Richards Layton & Finger, he clerked for the Honorable Jane R. Roth of the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.

Vice Chancellor Laster received his A.B summa cum laude from Princeton University and his J.D. and M.A. from the University of Virginia, where he served on the Virginia Law Review, was a member of the Order of the Coif, and received the Law School Alumni Association Award for Academic Excellence for having the best academic record in his graduating class. He is a member of the American Bar Association, Delaware State Bar Association, and the Rodney Inn of Court.