Among the Heller rubble lies a remnant of glory days gone by, the Venture Law Group, and for at least one lawyer, it hasn’t lost all its luster.
A 2001 file photo of Elias Blawie in VLG’s glory days.
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Elias Blawie, who co-founded the once-famed IPO giant with Craig Johnson (updated to note: and four other attorneys) in 1993, is slated to buy the VLG service marks registered in the United States and Europe, its acorn design and over a dozen associated Web sites from the Heller estate, all for $5,500. The sale will finalize this Friday, unless anyone objects through the court.
And to ward off the VLG haters, he’s also scooping up VentureLawGroupsucks.com, .net and .org too.
VLG flew to fame in the dot-com era by hooking up high-tech startups with venture capital, then taking a 1 percent cut of equity. Among its earliest babies were HotMail, Yahoo and WebTV.
But the business model didn’t hold up to the bust and in fall 2003, it merged with Heller Ehrman White & McAuliffe, at that time considered a great match between two highly prestigious firms. But as we all know, Heller didn’t make it, either. It filed for bankruptcy in December, three months after announcing its dissolution.
The largest group of VLG partners moved to Cooley in early October, a week after the dissolution vote. At the time, it was said that the separate branding wouldn’t be compatible with Cooley’s culture. Blawie is among that group, but he didn’t return calls for comment, so we don’t know if he has any grand plans to resurrect the name, or if he’s just going to file it away among his keepsakes of the good old days.
Carl Baier, Silicon Valley recruiter and former lawyer for Wilson Sonsini, from which VLG first defected, said that while VLG's heyday has definitely come and gone, the websites might be useful to steer leads or clients Blawie's way.
“The brand in the abstract is only as useful as the lawyers who are working at it at the time,” Baier said.
Updated: We heard back from Johnson on Wednesday morning. Johnson has been busy with his new Web-based firm, Virtual Law Partners, that launched last year. Its 35 attorneys all work from home where, it seems from the website, they all enjoy life, with pics of mothers baking and partners cuddling with dogs.
Johnson said he’s delighted Blawie is purchasing the rights. It makes sense, given the effort that all VLG partners spent building the name, not to “let it disappear into the sands of time.”
“I’d love to see some productive use to the brand and the name in the future, but I don’t think that’s the plan,” Johnson said.
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