Ex-Tesla Lawyer Joins Security Camera Startup Verkada (Correct)

Former top Tesla Inc. lawyer William Berry has joined Verkada Inc., a Silicon Valley startup that suffered a hack of 150,000 surveillance cameras last year.

Berry, who stepped down late last year as vice president of legal at Tesla, is the new general counsel at Verkada, the San Mateo, Calif.-based company said in a statement last week. He didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

He worked alongside Tesla’s chief executive officer, Elon Musk, to “lead strategic director for the company’s legal initiatives and goals,” Verkada chief executive officer Filip Kaliszan said in the statement.

Verkada’s data breach, which involved at least 95 customers, saw hackers gain access to live feeds and archived security videos showing everything from a Tesla warehouse in Shanghai to Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., the scene of a mass shooting that killed 20 people a decade ago, Bloomberg News reported in March 2021.

Verkada hired Perkins Coie to investigate the hack, which the company reported to the FBI. The breach left many of Verkada’s customers livid, as they questioned its data protection protocols and workplace culture.

“Bill’s expertise will continue pushing Verkada’s mission and strategic goals forward to ensure we’re delivering the highest standard of innovation and safest security technology,” Kaliszan said.

Several former computer science graduates from Stanford University, including Kaliszan and James Ren, started Verkada in 2016. Ren lists himself as a co-founder and software architect at the company, according to his LinkedIn profile.

Before co-founding Verkada, Ren was a software engineer at Alphabet Inc.’s Google. He worked there during the same time that the company employed Berry, who spent nearly a decade at Google, where he led an in-house general litigation team.

After Google, Ren worked as an associate at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher in Palo Alto, Calif., before leaving in 2016 to start Verkada.

Verkada Vacancy

Online job listings show that Verkada had been looking for a general counsel—at a base salary between $200,000 to $250,000—for at least a year.

Berry, a former lieutenant and surface warfare officer in the U.S. Navy, started his legal career in 1999 as an associate at Knobbe Martens Olson & Bear.

He went on to work at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan before joining Google in 2012.

Verkada retained Quinn Emanuel last year to represent it in an intellectual property dispute with Motorola Solutions Inc., which accused Verkada of copying its video security technology. The International Trade Commission said last year it would investigate the patent infringement claims.

The company hired attorney Dervilla Lannon in March 2020 to be its head of human resources and director of business and legal operations. Lannon was promoted later that year to Verkada’s executive team and now serves as its vice president of people.

Georgina Conheady, a former senior attorney for people and business operations at Verkada, left the company last year to join Snowflake Inc. as a senior corporate counsel for the newly public cloud data company.

Berry said in statement posted to LinkedIn that Verkada is looking to hire lawyers with privacy, product counseling, compliance, and IP expertise. Sarah Blumling, a founder of San Francisco-based legal recruitment firm QueensBench Search LLC, brokered his move to Verkada.