Potential disputes involving unicorns have been a hot topic for the last several years.  We predicted that would continue this year in in our webinar and related blog post: The Top Ten Regulatory and Litigation Risks for Private Funds in 2018.  In April, the Regional Director of the SEC’s San Francisco office, Jina Choi, confirmed this in her comments during a San Francisco Federal Bar Association panel.  Specifically, Ms. Choi discussed the SEC’s actions against Zenefits, Credit Karma, and Theranos, and reiterated the SEC’s continued commitment to monitoring suspected investor fraud in privately-held companies.  Ms. Choi also highlighted the settlement remedies in Zenefits and Theranos, including specifically that both settlement agreements required the company and individual officers at the company to pay penalties.

We expect to see the SEC continue to focus on unicorns in future investigations and proceedings. Private companies should prepare for increased scrutiny of their investor disclosures, particularly those related to and affecting the company’s valuation.  In addition, they should ensure their disclosures comply with Rule 701(e) of the Securities Act when granting stock options to employees, as the SEC noted in the Credit Karma settlement.  Finally, SEC actions may spark parallel private actions by investors against the company.

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Photo of Joshua M. Newville Joshua M. Newville

Joshua M. Newville is a partner in the Litigation Department and a member of Proskauer’s White Collar Defense & Investigations Group and the Asset Management Litigation team.

Josh handles securities litigation, enforcement and regulatory matters, representing corporations and senior executives in civil and…

Joshua M. Newville is a partner in the Litigation Department and a member of Proskauer’s White Collar Defense & Investigations Group and the Asset Management Litigation team.

Josh handles securities litigation, enforcement and regulatory matters, representing corporations and senior executives in civil and criminal investigations. In addition, Josh advises registered investment advisers and private fund managers on regulatory compliance, SEC exams, MNPI/insider trading and related risks.

Before joining Proskauer, Josh was senior counsel in the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s Division of Enforcement, where he investigated and prosecuted violations of the federal securities laws. Josh served in the Enforcement Division’s Asset Management Unit, a specialized unit focusing on investment advisers and the asset management industry. His prior experience with the SEC provides a unique perspective to help asset managers manage risk and handle regulatory issues.

Photo of William D. Dalsen William D. Dalsen

Will Dalsen is a senior counsel in the Litigation Department. His practice focuses on complex commercial litigation, with a particular emphasis on private credit, private equity, venture capital and hedge funds. Will is highly regarded for his deep knowledge of the private credit…

Will Dalsen is a senior counsel in the Litigation Department. His practice focuses on complex commercial litigation, with a particular emphasis on private credit, private equity, venture capital and hedge funds. Will is highly regarded for his deep knowledge of the private credit fund industry and ability to resolve disputes for both sponsors and portfolio companies. He provides counseling regarding creditor rights, lender liability, sponsor liability, operating company disputes, control rights and regulatory compliance and investigations.

He advises funds, fund sponsors, investment advisers, and institutional and individual investors. In addition, he has represented public and private corporations in contractual disputes, business tort cases, and government investigations.

Will leads all phases of the litigation process, including pre-suit investigations, negotiating discovery disputes and arguing discovery motions, managing expert discovery, preparing and arguing dispositive motions, and preparing witnesses for trial. He has elicited deposition testimony from numerous witnesses on topics ranging from corporate finances to document preservation.

Prior to joining Proskauer, Will served for two years as a law clerk to Judge Susan Phillips Read of the New York State Court of Appeals, drafting bench memoranda and assisting with opinions in a variety of civil and criminal matters. In law school, Will was Editor in Chief of the Wisconsin Law Review and served as a judicial intern to the Honorable Shirley S. Abrahamson, Chief Justice of the Wisconsin Supreme Court.