Union Square Ventures Adds First Top Lawyer After Coinbase Haul

Union Square Ventures LLC, which scored big with an investment in newly public cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase Global Inc., has hired its first-ever general counsel.

Samson Mesele, who spent the past half-dozen years as a corporate associate at Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, confirmed in an email to Bloomberg Law that he became the New York-based venture capital firm’s first legal chief last month.

USV, co-founded by partners Fred Wilson and Brad Burnham, invested $2.5 million in Coinbase back in 2013. Coinbase, now the largest U.S. cryptocurrency exchange, saw its valuation soar past $100 billion following a direct listing in April on the Nasdaq exchange.

Bloomberg News reported last month that Coinbase’s direct listing saw USV’s stake in the San Francisco-based cryptocurrency exchange hit a whopping $4.6 billion as Coinbase’s stock price climbed as high as $429.54 in the post-listing period. Coinbase’s current stock price was $293.45 as of Monday evening.

USV and fellow venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz were among those registered to trade stock in the direct listing by Coinbase, whose successful stock market debut created USV’s most profitable investment exit, while also disclosing the pay of Coinbase’s own top in-house lawyer.

“We are pursuing many complex investments across our web and mobile, crypto, and climate platforms,” Mesale said in a statement about his new general counsel role. “Our team is thinking hard about structures that make sense for our portfolio companies and our limited partners.”

USV’s other investments include Casetext Inc., a legal research startup whose other backers include an unidentified large law firm and startup accelerator Y Combinator Continuity. USV is also a backer of Scroll, an online ad-blocking startup acquired last week by Twitter Inc., a social media giant that plans to integrate the readership platform into its subscription-based services.

Mesale, who has been affiliated with the Leadership Council on Legal Diversity, noted that during his time at Wachtell he specialized in investment transactions and merger deals with complex structures. Prior to attending Yale Law School, Mesale worked in investment banking at Morgan Stanley.

He joins at least two other lawyers at USV in managing partner Andrew Weissman and partner John Buttrick, the latter of whom is a former corporate partner at Davis Polk & Wardwell.

Mesale is the second former Wachtell associate to take a general counsel job in the financial services world in recent weeks.

Albertus Horsting, a fellow Yale Law School graduate who spent nearly the past three years as a corporate associate at Wachtell in New York, joined Abdiel Capital Advisors LP in March as the hedge fund’s general counsel. Colin Moran, a graduate of Stanford Law School and former investment banking associate at the Goldman Sachs Group Inc., is a managing partner at Abdiel, which he founded in 2006.