Latham advises Morpheus Space in its series seed funding round

Morpheus Space has announced the closing of its first private funding round, led by Vsquared Ventures. Others in the round include Lavrock Ventures, Airbus Ventures, In-Q-Tel, Pallas Ventures and Techstars.

The space tech start-up was founded in 2018 as a spin-off from the chair of space systems of Technical University of Dresden. The company has created the ground-breaking Spacecraft Electric Propulsion Systems, NanoFEEP, which is the smallest and most efficient satellite propulsion system that provides in-orbit mobility for the widest range of satellite sizes.

“We are proud to have had Latham’s support on this milestone transaction for Morpheus,” said Daniel Bock, Co-Founder and CEO. “For every legal discipline we needed in the U.S. and Germany, they provided an almost instantaneous solution to help make this cutting edge tech transaction an intercontinental success.”

Latham & Watkins LLP represents Morpheus Space in the transaction. The emerging companies team was led by Los Angeles associate David Pendergast, with assistance from Los Angeles associate Zach Gray. The German corporate team was led by Hamburg partner Christoph Engeler, with associate Daniel Kreutzmann. Advice was also provide on intellectual property matters by Frankfurt partner Susan Kempe-Mueller and Los Angeles partner Ghaith Mahmood; on employment matters by Munich associate Kristina Steckermeier; on German public R&D grant matters by Frankfurt associate Alexander Wilhelm; and on regulatory matters by Hamburg associate Niklas Bruggermann.

Latham began representing Morpheus Space nearly a year ago, and helped the founders Daniel and Istvan Lorincz navigate a variety of legal questions on both sides of the Atlantic, culminating in a very exciting deal that will help the Company unlock the next phase of growth in its mission.

It is never too soon to deal with privacy by design under Brazilian LGPD

Data protection has definitively remarked the discussions during the last years. The European experience in its General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) spread over many countries and has inspired legislation regarding such matter.

Brazilian General Data Protection Law (LGPD) passed in 2018 will enter into force soon, after a postponement caused by the current pandemic. It is expected that the law will bring more security for data subjects under the Brazilian legal framework.

Although LGPD will take effect only next year, both business and organisation need to prepare their data management and processes since now to avoid fines and, a little worst, loss of consumer trust.

Regarding measures to start the compliance program, the Privacy by Design (PbD) principles are likely a good way to ensure end-to-end privacy during data processing. The concept of PbD was developed in the 90’s by the former information and privacy commissioner of Ontario, Canada, Ann Cavoukian.

Several studies in such field aims to prove that Cavoukian’s 7 foundational principles are paramount to protect privacy, from IT systems and physical design to business practices. Both GDPR and LGPD have similarities, which may make it easier to develop PbD.

Cavoukian’s principles such as privacy as something proactive and preventive, transparent, and that is developed to guarantee end-to-end security (i.e. during the full data lifecycle) match some of the LGPD articles and provisions, although in an unexpressed manner.

On the other hand, GDPR has adopted the “data protection by design and by default” in its article 25, with reference to technical and organisational measures to implement data protection principles. It ensures privacy requirement from the very first moment of data collect until the erasure of the information.

Therefore, PbD deals with privacy and respect for the user from “cradle to grave”, in Ann Cavoukian’s words. However, that does not mean that business and organisation’s reputation and credibility need to follow the same way. Data protection legislation are not just a framework to comply with. Instead, if the business does not respect its user’s privacy, more than receiving fines, it will bury its image before the activity sector.

To sum up, the 90’s bring to us many technological and legal advances, such as the World Wide Web, Directive 95/46/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council and, of course, the PbD. But what it really teaches us is that it is never too soon to discuss and implement privacy as an organisational default.

The next 90’s lesson is still unclear, but for now we are more than experts to start seeing privacy as benefit, not as an issue.

Hogan Lovells and Reed Smith advise on the sale of Softomotive

Hogan Lovells and Reed Smith have both played advisory roles in the sale of Softomotive, one of the leading worldwide providers of Robotic Process Automation solutions, to Microsoft. The addition of Softomotive brings Microsoft closer to its 2020 resolution to ’empower tech intensity in its customers and partners’ including in RPA, which is forecast to reach an estimated $7.2 billion by 2025.

The Hogan Lovells team advising the shareholders of Softomotive, including UK-based growth equity firm Grafton Capital, was led by corporate partner Richard Diffenthal, with support from senior associate Simon Grimshaw and associate Joseph Platt (corporate), partner Karen Hughes and senior associate Tom Eyre Brook (UK tax), partner Fiona Bantock (ESI), partners Nancy O’Neill and Kurt Lawson and senior associate Caitlin Piper (on US Tax) and partner Matt Eisler and counsel Ryan Adrian (US corporate).

The Reed Smith team advising Microsoft was led by corporate partner Mike Young, supported by partners Casper Fox (corporate), Gregor Pryor (entertainment & media), David Ashmore (employment), Ramsey Hanna (entertainment & media) and Anthony Poulopoulos (corporate), counsels Stephen Mooney (corporate), Christina Nikiforaki (regulatory enforcement), senior associates Tufayel Hussain (corporate) and Nick Breen (entertainment & media), and associates Harrison Stimson (corporate), Charlotte MacArthur (real estate), Haig Siranosian (litigation), Roch Glowacki (entertainment & media) and Tom Baxter (corporate).

Commenting on the transaction, Hogan Lovells partner, Richard Diffenthal said: “RPA is undoubtedly the future of IT automation and Softomotive have already proven to be pioneers and innovators in this marketplace. It was a real privilege to support Softomotive on this deal, and to work closely with co-founders Marios Stavropoulos and Anargyros Kaninis, as well as Oliver Thomas and his team at Grafton Capital.”

Mike Young, corporate partner at Reed Smith, added: “We are pleased to once again have supported Microsoft on an important acquisition that ensures they remain at the forefront of RPA solutions.”

Ashurst advises Sydney Metro on the Waterloo Metro Quarter

International law firm Ashurst has advised Sydney Metro on their contracts with the John Holland and Mirvac joint venture on the new Waterloo Metro Quarter integrated station development.

The development will revitalise the area and better connect the community, and is made up of five building envelopes above and adjacent to the new Waterloo metro station.

Ashurst advised Sydney Metro on both the station and precinct development contracts.

Lead partner Olivia Lau commented: “Ashurst is delighted to have advised Sydney Metro on the Waterloo Metro Quarter, a project that will revitalise Waterloo and connect local communities. We are very proud to be involved in such a transformational project.”

Olivia was assisted by partner Alex Guy, counsel Melinda Harris, Ben Kipic and Sarah Southall, senior associates Susannah Lace and Andrew Higgins, and lawyers Codie Gippel, Marya Atmeh, Rhiannon Evans, Lachlan Mack, Cameron Griffiths, Joshua Lee, Chloe Kwon and Joyce Teng.

Lawyers from the firm’s tax, dispute resolution, environment and planning, and corporate teams also advised.

Mindtree Wins 2019 ISG Star of Excellence Award™

Mindtree, a global technology services and digital transformation company, has been named the winner of the 2019 ISG Star of Excellence Award™, the industry’s first and only recognition program that ranks providers on the quality of their services based on direct feedback from enterprise clients.

Mindtree achieved the highest cumulative client experience score for the quality of its core technology services. In addition to this global award, Mindtree also ranked second in the Emerging Tech category, was recognised as the regional winner in North America and Asia Pacific, as well as for achieving the top score for its application development and maintenance (ADM) services.

“The most powerful assessment of Mindtree’s effectiveness as a strategic partner comes directly from our clients, and that’s what makes the ISG Star of Excellence recognition special and gratifying,” said Debashis Chatterjee, MD & CEO of Mindtree. “Mindtree is delivering technology solutions that are clearly driving business impact for clients. This recognition speaks directly to our client-centric approach to innovation, technology and end-user collaboration.”

Mindtree’s overall key strengths cited by customers include:

  • People and Collaboration – Mindtree demonstrates a broad and niche understanding of business that enables them to work seamlessly with suppliers in the ecosystem and be proactive in identifying and solving issues. Responsiveness, capability of personnel and organisational culture alignment were also core factors.
  • Innovating and Execution – Mindtree leverages broad experience to provide value beyond scope and solve business challenges through innovation. Mindtree successfully executes on innovation ideas, delivers on expectations and provides continuous improvement support.
  • Customer Loyalty – Mindtree ranked highest in customer loyalty driven by the large proportion of participants (63%) considered loyal enthusiasts who will keep buying and referring others.
  • Strategic Partners – More than half of participants viewed their relationship with Mindtree as strategic in nature, as either a Business Partner (33%) or trusted Technology Advisor (29%).

“ISG is delighted to name Mindtree the overall winner of the 2019 ISG Star of Excellence Award for core technology services,” said Andrea Murray, partner, ISG Performex™, the firm’s user experience and business relationship research service. “This independently verified recognition is well earned and reinforces Mindtree’s position among the top echelon of providers in the $100-billion-plus global sourcing industry.”

Through its ‘Voice of the Customer’ study, ISG surveyed more than 1,400 enterprise customers to obtain their feedback on providers’ service quality. The enterprise respondents all have direct exposure to providers and represent a broad cross section of industries, company sizes, geographies and areas of responsibility.

Respondents were asked to provide their feedback across eight broad categories of service quality: collaboration, execution, governance, teams and innovation (for core technology providers), and incubation, enablement and acceleration (for emerging technology providers).

Survey responses were scored mathematically, without interpretation by ISG, to determine the winners.

Why haven’t more firms embraced advisory services?

The revenue opportunity in advisory work is huge, and it’s more sustainable as a business. But the number of firms that have successfully achieved this holy grail is still very small: Arguably, only 5 to 15 percent have even come close).

One of the major problems is that ‘advisory’ is an extremely poorly defined concept. What it actually means in practice varies hugely depending on who is offering it and who is receiving it. And if you don’t know what it’s going to look like in the end, how do you even start trying to deliver it?

The good news is that it’s actually pretty simple, and most accountants already have the necessary skills and knowledge. It is, however, a question of mindset. This interview between Andy North and Peter Hickey, Founder and President of MAUS, offers some brilliantly simple words of advice.

Being an “advisor” is more about the questions you ask than the answers you provide. “Think of yourself as a sports coach,” says Peter. The goals you’re trying to achieve should be set by your client – and your objective is to help them break them down and hold them accountable.

And what tips does Peter have for the accountant struggling to make sense of all this? “Start with succession planning.” The conversations you can have with a client as they start to consider their exit from their business can create clear opportunities for you to help.