Stephen Venuto is widely regarded as one of the leading technology company counselors in the world. He focuses his practice on advising top high-growth technology and media companies, and their entrepreneurs, advisors and investors.
The Daily Journal has named Stephen one of the Top 100 Lawyers in California (chosen regardless of specialty). Stephen was Facebook’s first lawyer and has advised many other leading companies at critical stages of their lifecycles including Asana, Instagram, Pinterest, Warby Parker and WETA Digital.
Stephen cares about the teams he counsels and thrives on providing practical business advice. When The American Lawyer named Stephen “Dealmaker of the Year”, it recognized his corporate work and representation of Instagram in its sale to Facebook and quoted a prominent Instagram board member as saying that he “is an outstanding lawyer, but he’s also an outstanding business partner . . . someone who cares about everybody [who's] involved in a company.” In addition to naming Stephen to its list of Top 100 Lawyers in California, The Daily Journal has named him to its Top Emerging Companies Lawyers list, and Chambers and Partners has recognized and ranked Stephen in two separate categories for several consecutive years.
Numerous standout technology companies and their founders have turned to Stephen for corporate representation at all stages of their life-cycles. Most of his counseling is with technology disruptive clients in fast-growth fields such as information technology, artificial intelligence, web3, metaverse, fin-tech, SaaS, gaming, media and entertainment. His recent prominent counseling includes companies in the artificial intelligence, web3, metaverse and gaming spaces. For example he recently advised WETA Digital in its metaverse and gaming related asset sale to Unity Software (for $1.6 billion), has advised Anthropic AI from formation, and works closely with a variety of web3 related new startups.
Although Stephen is an experienced business and legal advisor who has completed thousands of venture capital financings and numerous public offerings, mergers, acquisitions and licensing transactions, he actively pursues passions in related fields at their earliest stages. Stephen has a long track record of understanding not just the business and legal underpinnings of the clients he counsels, but their underlying technologies and innovations. VentureBeat once referred to Stephen as the only lawyer in Silicon Valley who can code. That is an exaggeration (and probably no longer the case), but he does have extensive programming experience. As a child, Stephen created and was the systems operator of several bulletin board systems in the 1980s. As early as 1994, he was one of the first academic HTML "programmers" and an editor at Cornell’s Legal Information Institute (the first legal-oriented Web site on the Internet); and in 2003 created and ran his own Web site focused on wine.
Stephen enjoys public speaking and has taught multiple courses to business, law and engineering students at Cornell Tech and Cornell Law School as an Adjunct Professor, and given guest lectures at Stanford's Law School and its School of Engineering.
Within Orrick, Stephen is primarily focused on his client counseling, but does currently provide strategic advice to Orrick as a co-lead of its Technology Sector strategy. He has previously held critical leadership roles in Orrick's Corporate Business Unit (including head of the Technology Companies Group and head of the U.S. Corporate Business Unit). Before joining the firm as a partner in 2005, Stephen was an attorney at Venture Law Group and Latham & Watkins.