AudienceView’s General Counsel, Chad Aboud, Reflects on Steering a Live Events Company Through COVID-19Nov 18, 2020
Chad Aboud is the General Counsel of AudienceView Ticketing Corporation, a leading international SaaS Ticketing & CRM company, where he supports a broad range of business units including, Sales, Account Management, Product, Marketing and HR. Prior to AudienceView, Chad was Senior Corporate Counsel at Indigo Books & Music Inc., supporting the Digital, General Merchandise, Print, Marketing, and Procurement teams. He began his legal career as a Corporate and Securities Associate at Cassels, one of Canada’s leading national law firms, focusing on advising private and public companies on corporate and securities law.
Counselwell: Describe your background and how you became the General Counsel of AudienceView.
Aboud: My career began in private practice as a Corporate and Securities Associate at Cassels. The deep legal training and exposure to a variety of industries formed a wonderful foundation to my career. After about five years of an interesting and varied transactional practice, my curiosity pushed me to want to discover how industry implemented the types of transactions I had worked on into their daily operations. This peaked my interest in pursuing in-house opportunities.
As I had not worked in industry before, my thought was that I wanted my first in-house role to be at a larger company so that I would experience a broad set of operational functions and expand my legal and business experience. This led me to the legal team at Indigo, where in contrast to the depth of corporate and securities law in private practice, my years at Indigo allowed me to support a wide range of functions and projects for one of Canada’s great brands.
Having combined private practice and in-house experiences, after three years at Indigo my intuition pushed me to look for an opportunity where I could build my own legal department. Having been on the buy side of many SaaS negotiations at Indigo, I gravitated towards tech companies that were in growth mode. In early 2019, I joined AudienceView, a leading international SaaS Ticketing & CRM company as General Counsel with the mandate to build the legal function for a portfolio of tech companies. Over the past two years, we’ve acquired multiple companies, implemented a transformative migration project and weathered the COVID-19 impact – not to mention I’ve had the pleasure of hiring an extremely talented corporate counsel, Caroline Nhan, to further build out our AudienceView legal team.
Counselwell: How have you and your team supported AudienceView through COVID-19 and its effects on the live events industry?
Aboud: As we all know, COVID-19 has had an enormous impact on the live events industry (which is the industry that AudienceView’s SaaS products and B2C properties support). Most North American and European cities have implemented varying levels of in-person restrictions that have nearly halted attendance at live events since March 2020. At AudienceView, we took this as an opportunity to speed up some corporate initiatives that were on our roadmap and also pivot some of our existing tech to solve COVID-related problems for our clients.
We launched a transformative migration project that streamlines our product portfolio and internal operations, so that we can build our products and support our clients in the most efficient and scaled way possible. We also deployed new functionality in one of our products that allows universities to create a reservation system for non-event spaces on campus such as libraries, gyms and cafeterias, to help support a safe return to on campus living.
In addition to supporting these two projects and our normal day-to-day operations, we also had a variety of COVID-related issues to work through, including a full work-from-home program, novel employment issues and an analysis of our go forward real estate portfolio, each across multiple countries where we operate.
Counselwell: What are the biggest challenges you face as a GC?
Aboud: I think the biggest challenge/opportunity when launching a legal team is designing and positioning the legal processes (and legal team’s working style) to be aligned with the overall business. When the legal department is an island with processes and style that create friction in daily operations, it becomes very difficult to be a good partner to your stakeholders and to get the support of the executive team. Assessing the company’s culture and its needs for its current stage, and anticipated growth stage, are fundamental to designing a legal team that can support the business in a way that helps, and even improves, its operations. Especially if you’re looking to work in tech, implementing legal tech that allows the business to pivot and scale quickly is greatly appreciated.
Counselwell: What are the most important skills that in-house lawyers should develop?
Aboud: High quality legal teams align their advice and processes to their industry and their company’s vision, but this is really just table stakes. I think that the most important skills are the inter-personal skills to know how to build alignment with other teams. The professional and personal connections you build allow you to understand critical strategic and functional wins so you can prioritize typically scarce legal resources. Those relationships also give the legal team the best chance to receive support when it is needed from other teams. It is not enough anymore to be a subject matter expert (in this case in law); to be truly successful it’s just as important to be someone with whom others enjoy working and exchanging ideas. That two-way conversation builds the bonds that allow GCs to become true leaders in a company.