Verified Expert Lawyer: Sophie Alcorn


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Sophie Alcorn founded her own immigration-focused boutique law firm a few years ago, that has quickly become a go-to resource for founders and tech workers in the Bay Area and beyond.

While immigration paperwork acceptance rates have been dropping for immigration paperwork under tougher requirements set by the Trump Administration, especially for H-1Bs, Alcorn says her firm is able to get 95% through on H-1Bs, with higher rates for some visa types.

In the interview below, she shares some of the secrets of her success, as well as the challenges she’s overcome in the process of building her own company. You also can find dozens of quotes from satisfied clients at the end.

And, if you, a colleague or loved one is looking to immigrate, she also has written up an article for Extra Crunch that breaks down the wide range of visas that you can choose from. You

fast facts sophie alcorn 1

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XPRIZE seeks high-tech solutions to California’s fire problems


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The fire season is just a few weeks away here in California, and it’s expected to be worse than ever. But there’s a new plan in the works to help catch fires before they get out of control. XPRIZE is organizing a public competition for technology that can quickly find and extinguish wildland fires.

Announced by Gov. Gavin Newsom and XPRIZE founder Peter Diamandis on Friday at the Near Future Summit in San Diego, the competition will be open to any company and inventor in the world.

“It’ll be head-to-head between companies, and if one can detect and extinguish a fire in a repeatable fashion, then it becomes technology that every farm, every piece of land [can get],” Diamandis explained on stage. “Let’s reinvent what has been an old form of fire suppression — of people putting themselves in danger.”

Instead of the remote (and decaying) fire lookouts like

Gavin Newsom at the near future summit

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It’s open season for poaching talent in Silicon Valley


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Several recent court decisions have changed the landscape of California’s competition law, concluding that employee non-solicitation provisions are per se invalid. These cases have major implications both for mature companies relying on such provisions to preserve their talent pool, and for startups and other companies looking to attract the best people from their competitors.

California law is well-known for favoring open business competition. A fundamental part of this policy is that, unlike the overwhelming majority of other states, California generally does not allow companies to contractually prevent their employees from leaving to join or start a competing business.

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How do startups actually get their content marketing to work?


This post is by Eric Eldon from TechCrunch


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[Editor’s note: this is a free example of a series of articles we’re publishing by top experts who have cutting-edge startup advice to offer, over on Extra Crunch. Get in touch at ec_columns@techcrunch.com if you have ideas to share.] 

Even the best growth marketers fail to get content marketing to work. Many are unwittingly using tactics from 4 years ago that no longer work today.

This post cuts through the noise by sharing real-world data behind some of the biggest SEO successes this year.

It studies the content marketing performance of clients with Growth Machine and Bell Curve (my company) — two marketing agencies who have helped grow Perfect Keto, Tovala, Framer, Crowd Cow, Imperfect Produce, and over a hundred others.

What content do their clients write about, how do they optimize that content to rank well (SEO), and how do they convert their readers into customers?

You’re

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Verified Expert Lawyer: Adam Zagaris


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Adam Zagaris prides himself in being an outside general counsel who helps startups get day-to-day paperwork done efficiently and well — particularly when they are facing off against tough bigger partners. Although he started his career at big Silicon Valley law firms, he has built a streamlined practice at Moonshot Legal in recent years that covers everything from contracts and terms to intellectual property and human resources. 

He gives his no-holds-barred view of his practice and the startup world in the interview below, followed by recommendations from many dozens of startup leaders — he’s racked up one of the highest tallies among the hundreds of lawyers we’ve had recommended in our survey.


On negotiating

“Representing startups for almost 15 years, my job as going head-to-head with the big dogs of the world, making sure that my clients — in a strategic, creative way — get deals done. When

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TechCrunch (Extra Crunch) is looking for great startup guest authors


This post is by Eric Eldon from TechCrunch


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In the six weeks since we launched Extra Crunch, we’ve seen that readers and subscribers really want the latest practical tips and warnings about building a company — from the people on the cutting edge.

So we want to feature subject-matter experts, writing about what they learn from working with startup clients.  

You may remember, however, that the Crunch Network for contributors came to a necessary end a couple of years ago, in favor of an invite-only process for guest columns. It “had gotten a bit overrun,” as my colleagues memorably wrote at the time, “with pieces that we strongly suspected were ghost-written by PR or really had no business being given the platform.”  

Today, we are inviting people who do key work with startups to apply, if you are one of those people and you have ideas for articles that might be a great fit for

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How to make sure that your product is accessible to all users


This post is by Eric Eldon from TechCrunch


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Every founder wants an eye-catching website or app, but it’s easy to overlook a basic fact: not all your potential visitors will experience your content with their eyes. If you haven’t considered whether a user with differing visual, motor or hearing abilities can easily navigate your software, it’s time to get serious about digital accessibility.

As tempting as it might be to prioritize a stunning visual and mobile experience over an accessible design, accessibility is a legal requirement—not an option—for many businesses.

Just ask high-profile founder Beyoncé Knowles. In January, Beyoncé’s Parkwood Entertainment was hit with a class-action lawsuit that includes “all legally blind individuals in the United States who have

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Talk Apple news with TechCrunch EIC Matthew Panzarino


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Apple rolled out major updates to main consumer services today, including a new Apple credit card, an ad-free TV subscription service, a paywalled version of News (that includes Extra Crunch), and a gaming platform upgrade.

TechCrunch Editor-In-Chief Matthew Panzarino attended live to hear the latest, and I can tell you that he has already developed some strong opinions…. Tomorrow at 10:30 am PT, Extra Crunch members will get to hear first-hand from him about the ins and outs of the company’s latest media offerings.

Tune in to listen to the details about what happened onstage and off, as well as the opportunity to ask Matthew anything Apple.

To listen to this and all future conference calls, become a member of Extra Crunch. Learn more and try it for free. 

Verified Expert Lawyer: Mike Lincoln


This post is by Eric Eldon from TechCrunch


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In 1999, Mike Lincoln co-founded the first East Coast office of top Silicon Valley law firm Cooley LLP. Over the last two decades, he has built out the practice to extend well beyond the region, today covering Boston and New York too, while also heading up the firm’s business department, and serving as an adjunct professor at the University of Virginia.

Along the way, he has collected an impassioned group of founder clients, more than two dozen of whom had a lot to tell us about how he has helped them.


On being a startup lawyer:

“[I]f you really believe you can make dreams happen and that you can help create jobs and you can help cure disease and other things that startups do, then your practice will flourish and the money will follow because people will see it in your eyes. They’ll see that you’re passionate about helping to

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Talk about the big news from GDC with TechCrunch writers


This post is by Eric Eldon from TechCrunch


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The Game Developers Conference concludes today in San Francisco but that doesn’t mean our coverage is over.

TechCrunch writer Lucas Matney and Extra Crunch contributor Eric Peckham were at the Moscone Center and got a first-hand glimpse into what is coming up for gamers and developers alike. And at noon PT today they’ll be sharing what they saw with Extra Crunch members on a conference call.

First, there can be no discussion about gaming news this week without mentioning Google’s new game-streaming service Stadia. As Lucas wrote this week, the service will let gamers leave their hefty GPUs and expensive systems behind … and the service can be used on devices with a Chrome browser and an internet connection.

They’ll also be discussing the latest about game engines, VR and voice-based gaming.

To listen to the call and the opportunity to participate in future conference calls, become a member of

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Pre- and Post-Money SAFEs: Choosing the right one for your startup


This post is by Eric Eldon from TechCrunch


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With Y Combinator’s Demo Day taking place at Pier 48 in San Francisco next week, its largest batch of companies ever is getting ready to present to an audience of select investors. Having taken Atrium through Demo Day myself, I have first-hand knowledge of the process. When the founders have finished their pitches, the time to talk numbers will closely follow. Chief among the many decisions founders will face during this time is whether to opt for the Pre-Money SAFE or the new Post-Money SAFE, the two standardized legal documents that YC has introduced in recent years.

Both versions are meant to make the process fast, easy and fair for both parties in the early-stage fundraising process. But there are crucial

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Verified Expert Lawyer: Mital Makadia


This post is by Eric Eldon from TechCrunch


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Mital Makadia’s legal career began on the East Coast, with Big Law firms, but she moved into early-stage startup work with long-time Silicon Valley boutique Grellas Shah nearly a decade ago. She’ll work with companies on a range of usual startup issues, but she and the firm also focus on individual founder representation (when it comes to that).

As part of the interview below, we got into a conversation about contentious terms in term sheets — and she ended up writing a guest post for us about the biggest gotchas that she sees in Series A docs. Read up on her here, then go check out What To Watch For In A VC Term Sheet.


On the founder focus:

“We approach the practice with a view to protecting the founders. So we’re not looking to please the VCs. And if that means reviewing the transaction a little bit differently then

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Verified Expert Lawyer: Jared Verzello


This post is by Eric Eldon from TechCrunch


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TechCrunch is profiling great startup lawyers wherever they may be working — and that includes within new companies built from the ground up around tech. Today, we’re interviewing Jared Verzello of Atrium. While even the most old-line of law firms have begun integrating document automation and analysis software, Atrium started that way. Around two years old, it’s both a full-service corporate law firm, Atrium LLP, and a technology startup, Atrium Legal Technology Services, that focuses on building tech for its clients and lawyers.

For his part, Verzello joined Atrium 18 months ago from Silicon Valley law firm Cooley LLP, and heads up the seed stage practice. In the interview below, he tells us how he got into this position, how he works with startups from within Atrium, and trends he’s seeing in the market today.


On common founder mistakes:

“Having represented over 20% of Y Combinator (YC) companies for the

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Verified Expert Lawyer: Sam Angus


This post is by Eric Eldon from TechCrunch


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Sam Angus has been a lawyer in Silicon Valley since the 1990s. Today, he represents some of the biggest names in the startup world, from their earliest days through acquisitions and IPOs, and including four acquisitions last year: TSheets, GitHub, Glint and HelloSign.

But his startup experience actually goes back to the 1980s, when he and some friends built a booming calendar publishing business out of their dorm room during college. In the interview below, he tells us about the ups and downs of the tech industry over the decades, how he helps clients through the good times and bad, and how he works within Fenwick & West, one of the leading tech law firms in tech. We also discuss long-term trends, like the shift towards founder-friendly terms in this era versus past decades in the Valley.


On early-stage problems:

“I’ve represented hundreds of early-stage companies. It is not

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Verified Expert Lawyer: José Ancer


This post is by Eric Eldon from TechCrunch


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José Ancer is first of all a startup lawyer, with a client portfolio of startups of various stages based around Texas and other similar ecosystems outside of Silicon Valley. He’s also the CTO of Egan Nelson LLP, a boutique firm, where he actively is also building automation software to help the firm compete against larger firms. He also writes on his blog “Silicon Hills Lawyer” publicly and pointedly about his profession — and often takes shots at certain practices common among startup law firms, including Silicon Valley firms. You can get a sense of what’s in the full interview via these excerpts.


On not being “owned” by VCs and repeat players

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    <blockquote>
         “José has a depth of expertise in startup/company formation/funding issues and is very founder-friendly. He was able to guide us through our seed stage while staying efficient and keeping the billing reasonable.”                           <cite>Mary Haskett, Austin, <div class="post-limited-image"><img class="aligncenter vertical wp-image-1787535" src="https://techcrunch.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/overview-jose-ancer.png" alt="" width="729" height="864" srcset="https://techcrunch.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/overview-jose-ancer.png 2200w, https://techcrunch.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/overview-jose-ancer.png?resize=127,150 127w, https://techcrunch.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/overview-jose-ancer.png?resize=253,300 253w, https://techcrunch.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/overview-jose-ancer.png?resize=768,910 768w, https://techcrunch.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/overview-jose-ancer.png?resize=574,680 574w, https://techcrunch.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/overview-jose-ancer.png?resize=42,50 42w" sizes="(max-width: 729px) 100vw, 729px" /></div>

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Introducing the Verified Experts of Extra Crunch


This post is by Eric Eldon from TechCrunch


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TechCrunch is launching something a little different today. We’re going to help startup founders find the best outside experts to work with — so you can build a better company, faster.

From lawyers to accountants to executive coaches and a dozen more categories, the mesh network of service providers in Silicon Valley and other startup ecosystems is a vital part of how companies succeed.

But many early-stage founders don’t even know that this sort of help exists. Or maybe, you think you don’t need help yet. Or maybe, you know you need help — you just aren’t finding the right people through your own network.

Starting today, with our coverage of startup lawyers and startup law, we are beginning a long-term effort to solve these problems. It’s part of Extra Crunch, our new membership program that we launched last week.

Here’s what’s coming today, and beyond.

The verified experts

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Meet a great startup lawyer: Cynthia Hess


This post is by Eric Eldon from TechCrunch


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In late December, we launched our startup lawyer survey and to date we’ve received more than 1700 responses from startup leaders about hundreds of lawyers around the country and the world.

“Cynthia just gets it! She has ‘your’ hat on. She is not just doing a transaction. She is representing and working for you. Amazing!” Kara Goldin, founder and CEO of hint, inc.

Today we begin to publish the results of that survey, beginning with our first verified expert, a seasoned Silicon Valley attorney who has been working with all sizes of companies for two decades.

Cynthia Clarfield Hess has been a lawyer in Silicon Valley since 2000, working with all sizes of companies across their needs from company formation on. While you may see her name on various legal rankings services, she still splits her time between all stages of clients. 

Read on for more from Cynthia

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How we’re finding the best lawyers for early-stage startups


This post is by Eric Eldon from TechCrunch


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We’re nearing 1,000 submissions from startup founders and leaders in Silicon Valley and across the world about the best early-stage tech lawyers to work with. As we’ve sorted through survey responses and begun scheduling interviews with the first qualified nominees, we’ve gotten a bunch of questions. We love questions.

First of all, why are we creating a living list of great tech startup lawyers? Lawyers don’t create startups, but they can help great startups succeed. They can also kill promising ventures before they have time to get off the ground. Who you use as your lawyer matters, and yet, there are no great resources to help early-stage founders navigate this decision.

Need more detail before you take the survey? Read on.

A living list

We are not making a listicle or an occasional ranking like what you might see on other news sites or legal review services. Instead, we are

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Help us find the best startup lawyers


This post is by Eric Eldon from TechCrunch


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We’re looking for the best lawyers who are working with startups today, and we’d like your recommendations.

Right now, it’s hard to find the sort of attorney who can help you see around corners as a young company, negotiate tricky situations, and connect you to other legal experts when you need to go deep on a topic.

Help us by filling out this two-minute survey.

If you’re like me, you’ve spent hours researching online, working your network for word-of-mouth recommendations, and going through a trial-and-error process. TechCrunch is trying to save you time and money here by publishing a list of lawyers who other founders have had great experiences with.

Since we began the project last month, we’ve already heard from nearly 600 founders and early startup leaders about lawyers they recommend, across booming local startup scenes and top Silicon Valley companies. We’ve also gotten great feedback about lawyers

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Help TechCrunch find the best lawyers for startups


This post is by Eric Eldon from TechCrunch


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TechCrunch is working on a new project to help you build a better company.

We’re looking for the great service providers in the startup world: the lawyers, accountants, recruiters, human resource managers, project managers and other experts you need to help you succeed. We’re putting together detailed lists of experts based on recommendations from our readers, and our own research, so that you can quickly find the right person to bring on — so you can go back to focusing on your core product.

We’re kicking off this project today by trying to identify the startup lawyers that founders love to work with.

Have you worked with an attorney who, say, helped you clean up a messy business contract, or set up a compelling compensation structure for your team, or saw around a corner on a big legal issue you didn’t know about?

Tell us more by filling out this

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