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Palo Alto Partners and Counsel

Naveed  Anwar - Partner - Headshot
Naveed Anwar - Partner

Naveed Anwar is a Corporate Partner based in the Firm’s Palo Alto Office. Naveed’s practice focuses on mergers and acquisitions, where he represents public and private companies and private equity firms in a variety of domestic and cross-border transactions. He has experience in a broad range of transactions, including acquisitions, dispositions, carve-outs, leveraged buyouts, de-SPAC transactions, recapitalizations, venture financings, joint ventures and other complex transactions across a wide variety of sectors. Recently named a 2021 “West Trailblazer” by The American Lawyer, Naveed was also recognized as a 2019 Law360 “Rising Star” in Private Equity and included in Daily Journal’s “Top 40 Under 40” in California in 2018.

Atif Azher - Partner - Headshot
Atif Azher - Partner Atif Azher is a Corporate Partner in the Firm’s Palo Alto office. Atif’s practice focuses on mergers and acquisitions where he represents public and private companies, and private equity firms, in a variety of domestic and cross-border transactions. He has experience in a broad range of transactions, including acquisitions, dispositions, carve-outs, leveraged buyouts, venture financings, joint ventures and other direct investments. He also has extensive experience representing public companies in unsolicited transactions and corporate governance matters, as well as representing investment banks in connection with advising on M&A transactions. His corporate representations have included Dell, Wyeth, WME Entertainment, Tsinghua Unigroup, Shaw Communications, Aramark, Ingersoll-Rand, and TD Bank Financial Group. Atif’s private equity clients have included Hellman & Friedman, Silver Lake Partners, Blackstone, Sterling Partners, TPG, KKR, Carlyle and Riverwood Capital. Atif was named an “MVP” in Private Equity by Law360 in 2021 and 2017, and a “Trusted Adviser” in Private Equity by The Recorder in 2017.
Stephen P. Blake - Partner - Headshot
Stephen P. Blake - Partner

Steve Blake is a Litigation Partner in our Palo Alto office. Steve has extensive experience resolving high-stakes shareholder litigation and securities regulatory matters. Steve regularly advises corporations, financial institutions, funds and their advisors in connection with mergers and acquisitions, initial public offerings, legal compliance and commercial disputes. Steve also regularly represents entities and individuals before the SEC, FINRA and stock exchanges.

Steve frequently writes and lectures on shareholder litigation, fiduciary duties and issues under the Securities Act, Exchange Act, Investment Company Act and Investment Advisors Act. Steve is the author of the quarterly “Stock Block” column in The Recorder. His recent columns “Along Came SPACs, and Then SPAC Litigation” and “SPAC Action, Litigation and Regulatory Reaction” have been widely read.

Recognized as a 2021 Law360 “Rising Star” in Securities, Steve is also a repeat honoree on Benchmark Litigation’s “40 & Under Hot List,” and was honored by the Daily Journal as one of the “Top 40 Under 40” lawyers in California in 2018. Steve is consistently recognized by The Legal 500 in both M&A Litigation and Shareholder Litigation, and as a “Rising Star” in Northern California securities litigation by Super Lawyers.

William B. Brentani - Partner - Headshot
William B. Brentani - Partner

Based in the heart of Silicon Valley, Bill Brentani’s practice focuses on corporate finance and general securities and corporate matters. Bill regularly works for issuers and underwriters in a broad range of public and private debt, equity and equity-linked offerings. Bill also represents private equity sponsors in connection with acquisition financings and advises companies on corporate governance and securities law-related matters. He has worked on offerings involving issuers from a variety of industries, including technology, healthcare, real estate, entertainment, energy and transportation, as well as SPAC and de-SPAC transactions. Bill was named a 2021 Healthcare “MVP” by Law360 and has been recognized as a leading lawyer for a number of years by Chambers USA, which describes him as “highly sought after for his expert counsel on transactions in diverse sectors, including healthcare, technology and retail.” Clients laud him as “highly technically knowledgeable” and “great to work with” and, tellingly, that “our needs are his needs” (Chambers USA). He currently serves as Head of the Firm’s Palo Alto office, Co-Chair of the Firm’s Opinion Committee, and a member of the Firm’s Executive Committee. 

Tristan Brown - Partner - Headshot
Tristan Brown - Partner

Lauded by Chambers as “incredibly intelligent and highly responsive,” Tristan Brown is based in Palo Alto, where he is part of Simpson Thacher’s multi-office Executive Compensation and Employee Benefits Practice. Tristan has broad experience advising a variety of clients, including private equity funds and public companies, on executive compensation and employee benefits issues arising in mergers, takeovers, sales, spin-offs, IPOs and other transactions.

Tristan also regularly assists companies in designing and implementing employee compensation and benefit programs and has extensive experience negotiating executive employment and separation arrangements—both on behalf of companies and executives. His clients include Silver Lake Partners, KKR, KSL, Airbnb, Alibaba, Ant Financial, Dell Technologies, Inc.,, Oaktree, CBRE, BrightView, Masonite, McKesson and Sedgwick.

Tristan was named as a 2017 Top 20 Lawyer in Employee Benefits by Lawdragon.


Harrison J. (Buzz) Frahn - Partner - Headshot
Harrison J. (Buzz) Frahn - Partner

Buzz Frahn is a Partner in the Litigation Department. His practice focus is on complex trials, particularly in intellectual property, antitrust and commercial litigation. With nearly 25 years representing technology, telecommunications, financial services and life sciences companies, clients look to Buzz for his unique ability to synthesize complicated, challenging and difficult-to-understand information into a compelling narrative that persuades judges and juries.

He has first-chaired multiple jury trials and tried numerous complex technology cases. Buzz has also spearheaded worldwide strategy for complex cartel cases with both criminal and civil exposure.

Buzz was a founding member of the Palo Alto office in 1999, and is the past President of the Board of Legal Aid At Work, the oldest legal aid organization in the West, which has partnered with Simpson Thacher to bring high-impact class action litigation to help low-income middle-school and high school girls get fair access to sports. Buzz has been recognized with the Pro Bono Advocate award from Legal Services for Children.

Buzz is consistently recognized as a National “Litigation Star” for Intellectual Property by Euromoney’s Benchmark Litigation and is recommended in patent litigation by The Legal 500

Robert Guo - Partner - Headshot
Robert Guo - Partner

A Partner in the Firm’s Private Funds Practice, Robert Guo advises private fund sponsors on the establishment and operation of private investment funds across multiple asset classes ranging in size from under $50 million to over $24 billion. Robert also counsels sponsors with respect to internal economic and governance matters, as well as regulatory compliance and fund-related aspects of mergers and acquisitions transactions.

Robert also has advised many private equity and venture capital investors on venture financing, growth equity and other investment, acquisition and sale transactions.

Kirsten J. Jensen - Partner - Headshot
Kirsten J. Jensen - Partner

Kirsten Jensen is a leading mergers and acquisitions attorney with nearly 30 years of experience advising companies and their boards. As a founding member of our Palo Alto Office, Kirsten has been in the forefront of many game-changing deals in Silicon Valley over the years, including representing Google in its iconic $1.65 billion acquisition of YouTube. She provides her clients with practical advice and solutions to help them achieve their goals as they engage in complex transactions. 

Kirsten represents corporations, private equity firms and financial institutions in transactions spanning the full range of M&A, including public and private acquisitions and dispositions, joint ventures, minority investments, carve-outs and activist defenses. Named for multiple years as one of ALM’s “Women Leaders in Tech Law” for her M&A experience advising clients in tech and biotech, Kirsten also works with clients in many other industries, including pharmaceutical, healthcare, renewable energy, finance, consumer products, media, real estate, aerospace and light industrial. She has also been repeatedly recognized by the Daily Journal as a “Top Woman Lawyer in California.”

Kevin P. Kennedy - Partner - Headshot
Kevin P. Kennedy - Partner

Located in Palo Alto, Kevin Kennedy currently serves as the Global Head of the Firm’s Technology Practice. Possessing what Chambers described as “great depth of experience in all facets of capital markets,” and one of a handful of lawyers ranked in Chambers’ highest category for Capital Markets in the U.S., Kevin primarily focuses on securities and corporate governance matters. Since helping to found the Firm’s Palo Alto office more than 20 years ago, Kevin has represented issuers and underwriters on many of the highest-profile securities transactions undertaken by the leading technology and life science companies of this century. Recent highlights include representing the underwriters in Airbnb’s $3.83 billion IPO and Airbnb in its April 2020 $1 billion investment from Silver Lake Partners; financial advisors in the direct listing by Roblox, which valued the company at $45 billion and was the largest direct listing by market capitalization ever completed at the time; XPeng in its 2020 IPO, the largest IPO ever completed by an electric vehicle manufacturer; 10x Genomics in the largest life sciences IPO of 2019; and ZS Pharma in its $2.7 billion acquisition by AstraZeneca. Kevin represented the underwriters in Tesla Motors’ IPO and on all 15 subsequent public offerings, raising more than $25 billion in total proceeds. He also represented Goldman Sachs in Apple’s $17 billion bond offering—then the largest-ever corporate debt offering—and all subsequent 26 offerings raising more than $161 billion in total proceeds – the largest amount of aggregate debt ever raised by a corporate issuer in history. Kevin was recently recognized by Law360 as a 2021 Technology “MVP” for his work on several of the year’s highest-profile offerings, including Airbnb’s IPO and Roblox’s direct listing, and selected among the “Top 100 Lawyers in California” for 2020 by the Daily Journal. He was also recognized as a 2018 Law360 Technology “MVP” and named the “Lawyer of the Week” by the Financial Times of London, as well as a “Trusted Adviser” by The Recorder. Kevin is a lead co-author of the book titled, “IPOs: Considerations for Business Owners and Executives Taking their Company Public,” recently published by Donnelley Financial Solutions.

Kevin currently serves as a Board Member for the Bowles Hall Foundation and as a member of the Board of Trustees of the University of California, Berkeley Foundation. He was previously a member of the Executive Board of the Berkeley Center for Law, Business and the Economy and a Board Member of the Boalt Hall Alumni Association for a number of years. 

James G. Kreissman - Partner - Headshot
James G. Kreissman - Partner

Jim Kreissman is the Firm’s senior West Coast litigator and Chair of the Firm’s Asia Litigation Practice. He focuses on securities and M&A litigation, as well as government and internal investigations. Jim has also represented numerous special litigation committees and audit committees.

Jim’s matters frequently involve internet and technology companies, such as Alibaba, Dell,, EMC, Etsy, GDS Holdings, InfoSpace, Intel, LightInTheBox, Oracle, Skype, SiRF Technology/CSR, Infineon AG, Seagate and JDS Uniphase.

Jim has in-depth experience with litigations related to mergers or acquisitions, and shareholder derivative claims. He recently led the successful defense of multi-jurisdictional litigation challenging Silver Lake’s marquee 2013 leveraged buyout of Dell, Inc. and was heavily involved in the hotly contested appraisal litigation brought in Delaware by Dell shareholders who challenged the purchase price of the buyout. Jim has also been involved in litigation challenging Dell’s subsequent 2016 acquisition of EMC Corporation.

Jim is a frequent lecturer at major law schools and CLE events, including his co-chairmanship of the PLI Merger Litigation Conference. Jim is recognized by The Legal 500 as a “Leading Lawyer” in M&A Litigation: Defense and Securities Litigation: Defense, and by Euromoney's Benchmark Litigation as a “Benchmark California Star” and “Litigation Star.”

Robert Langdon - Partner - Headshot
Robert Langdon - Partner

Robert Langdon is a leading private equity and M&A lawyer with more than 20 years of broad experience representing private equity sponsors and their portfolio companies in high-stakes matters. Robert has advised numerous private equity funds, including Carlyle, EQT Partners, Hellman & Friedman, KSL Capital Partners, Silver Lake, Technology Crossover Ventures, True Wind Capital and Warburg Pincus. He is ranked as a top attorney for Private Equity: Buyouts (Nationwide) by Chambers USA. Robert was recently named “Private Equity Dealmaker of the Year” for 2020 by The Deal. He is also a recipient of the Law360 awards for both “MVP-Private Equity” and “Rising Star-Private Equity,” and is recognized as a “go-to attorney” in the area of private equity. 

Michael Vernace - Partner - Headshot
Michael Vernace - Partner

As a Partner in the Firm’s Banking and Credit Department, Mike’s practice focuses on syndicated finance and other commercial lending transactions, including acquisition, leveraged, investment-grade, asset-based, corporate, receivables, net asset value and “hybrid” financings. Mike also represents leading leverage buyout sponsors and their portfolio companies in connection with a variety of recapitalizations and refinancings.

Daniel N. Webb - Partner - Headshot
Daniel N. Webb - Partner

Dan Webb’s practice focuses on capital markets transactions, corporate governance and securities law matters. He advises issuers, underwriters and sponsors on initial public offerings, follow-on offerings, block trades, PIPEs and other equity offerings, and offerings of preferred stock and investment grade, high yield and convertible debt, as well as tender and exchange offers, SPACs and various types of acquisition financing. His representations have included Facebook’s $16 billion IPO and Apple’s inaugural $17 billion bond offering, the largest corporate bond offering in history at the time. Dan is recognized as a leading lawyer by Chambers USA, which quotes clients and counterparts who describe him as “terrific, incredibly knowledgeable, very practical and very collaborative” and “very experienced.”

Simona G. Strauss - Senior Counsel - Headshot
Simona G. Strauss - Senior Counsel Simona Strauss is Senior Counsel in the Firm’s Litigation Department. Her areas of concentration are securities litigation, M&A litigation, government and internal investigations and complex commercial disputes. In addition to defending companies and individuals in direct and derivative shareholder litigation, she regularly represents clients (both domestic and foreign) involved in investigations conducted by the United States Securities and Exchange Commission. Simona represents clients in litigation and in arbitration, at the trial court level and on appeal.
Harry N. Hudesman - Counsel - Headshot
Harry N. Hudesman - Counsel

Harry Hudesman is Counsel in the Palo Alto office, and a member of the Firm’s Executive Compensation and Employee Benefits Practice. Harry focuses his practice on executive compensation and employee benefits issues arising in the context of a wide range of transactions, including mergers and acquisitions, spin-offs and initial public offerings, among others. He regularly advises public and private companies on a broad range of employment, compensatory and benefit matters including the design, negotiation and implementation of employment and separation arrangements, cash-based and equity-based incentive plans, golden parachute excise tax issues, and related employment matters.

Jonathan C. Sanders - Counsel - Headshot
Jonathan C. Sanders - Counsel

Jonathan Sanders is Counsel in the Firm’s Litigation Department. He focuses on patent litigations, including managing complex cases in federal district courts, litigating appeals in the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals and the United States Supreme Court and handling proceedings before the Patent and Trademark Office.