John Eden is an associate in the West Coast Emerging Companies and Venture Capital practice at Nixon Peabody. He has over fifteen years of experience building and growing technology products, most notably those involving regulatory tech and consumer social, information security, social gaming, fintech, and SaaS. John brings his love of creative problem solving to the practice of law by crafting unique solutions, solutions that are tailor-made for the thorny business and legal challenges his clients face.
Law is a problem-solving discipline, though we often forget this in the mad rush to fit legal problems into tidy, preexisting categories. Yet when we slow down, ask questions, and then probe methodically, it becomes easier to map all of the relevant dimensions of a client’s problem.
This is first principles thinking, the same framework that great entrepreneurs and scientists deploy to solve problems and innovate. By using a first principles approach, the various dimensions of a client’s problem can be efficiently disaggregated, which in turn facilitates an iterative, bespoke approach to devising solutions that achieve as many of a client’s short- and long-term strategic goals as possible.
My mission is to help clients achieve their business objectives. To achieve this mission, I do two things. First, I study a client’s business with great care. Second, I assess the specific legal challenges that the client will face in light of its business goals, strategy, and growth profile. Whatever industry my client is in, this methodology helps me effectively address their unique business and legal needs.
In the United States, fintech and blockchain companies must take great care to ensure that they are fully compliant with existing banking, money transmission, anti-money laundering, and anti-terrorist financing laws. With this general objective in mind, I work closely with clients in this space to help them apply traditional regulatory regimes to novel blockchain, fintech and DeFi products and services.
I work with technology clients on intricate and important M&A deals. Because these deals have complex business dependencies, I focus on mitigating the risks associated with these dependencies for my clients. Equally importantly, I help my clients understand how to best collaborate with a buyer or seller once a deal has closed. After all, an M&A transaction is fundamentally about a shared business vision. Bringing that vision to life requires considerable planning that is often not addressed as the parties work hard to finalize a deal. Having been part of two startups post-acquisition, I have practical knowledge around how to set up clients for success long after the ink is dry on a stock purchase agreement.
Modern technology companies have to comply with a wide array of domestic and international laws and regulations. These laws and regulations are complex, so much so that they sometimes impede rapid, no-holds-barred product development and distribution. In light of this reality, I do everything in my power to help my clients navigate the regulatory thicket as smoothly as possible.
I rely on my experience outside the law to develop creative, robust solutions to legal problems. This includes business development, strategy, and product management. I regularly leverage these disciplines to enhance the quality of my legal and strategic advice.
I see two fundamental trends. First, innovative companies in the most contested technology sectors—from FinTech to energy to transportation—are experiencing unprecedented scrutiny by regulators all over the world. Because high-growth technology companies are innovating across borders, regulators have to take a hard look at whether their new products and services comport with local laws and norms. As a result, the most successful global brands will continue to need the assistance of creative legal solutions.
Second, in M&A specifically, the regulatory challenges have become more complex. For example, deals involving sensitive software and telecommunications technology (especially those with clear defense applications) and a foreign buyer require a rigorous review by CFIUS. They key here is (1) developing a thorough understanding of the specific technology that the government is going to be concerned about and (2) putting that deep understanding to work in a mitigation plan tailored to CFIUS’s specific concerns. This is the best way to proactively set the agenda, instead of adopting a reactive posture with a government agency whose mission is to protect U.S. national security.
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