If ever there was a time when working at the Securities and Exchange Commission was a dull affair, that’s no longer true. The federal agency that’s responsible for protecting investors and maintaining fair and orderly functioning of our securities markets is busier than ever, thanks to the rise of SPACs, cryptocurrencies and new rules around how startups raise money. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
In just a few of its many cases, it this week charged App Annie, the mobile data and analytics firm, as well as its co-founder and former CEO and Chairman Bertrand Schmitt, with securities fraud.
The charges come hot on the heels of another case that the SEC announced late last month against Manish Lachwani, the former CEO of Silicon Valley startup HeadSpin, who has been accused of defrauding investors out of $80 million by falsely claiming HeadSpin had achieved stronger and more consistent growth on the customer and revenue front than was the case.
It also still has an active case against former Theranos president “Sunny” Balwani, who, unlike Theranos and its founder Elizabeth Holmes, has refused to settle with the agency.
Of course, in the midst of its active fieldwork, it’s getting used to grappling — publicly — with powerful tech CEOs. It famously became a target of Elon Musk several years ago when it filed securities fraud charges against him tied to his social media activities. (It continues to try reining in the tweets of Musk, who has openly mocked the agency.)
More recently, it found itself the target of a Twitter tirade by Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong.
Leading the charge in each of these cases and many more is Erin Schneider, who attended UC Berkeley as an undergraduate and law student and who, after a brief stint as a staff accountant at PWC and as a lawyer with a global law office, headed to the SEC as a staff attorney. She has steadily worked her way up since, and in May 2019 was appointed as the head of its San Francisco office, which leads enforcement and examinations in not only Northern California but also the Pacific Northwest.
Because she and her colleagues have their hands particularly full, you can imagine how excited we are that Schneider is coming to Disrupt (September 21-23) to discuss some of the agency’s many current challenges — as well as its victories.
If you’re interested in learning more about the SEC’s ever-evolving approach to Silicon Valley startups, and why you shouldn’t expect its interest to dissipate any time soon, you really won’t want to miss this conversation.
Disrupt is coming up fast. Don’t miss our conversation with Schneider or with Brian Armstrong himself, or actor-entrepreneur Ryan Reynolds, or investor Chamath Palihapitiya, or the many other powerful speakers who will be gracing our virtual stage this year. Get your ticket now for less than $100 — and we’ll see you soon.