It was a bad time to start up anything, really.
“This was right after 9/11,” recalls managing
partner Scott Alderton. “It was a horrible time
for tech startups in L.A.” But he and Joe Stubbs,
Murray Markiles, John McIlvery and Greg Akel-srud rolled the dice and formed their firm in early
2002 with a clear mission statement: to translate
their passion for early- and middle-stage startup
clients into a thriving law practice. They wanted to
become the firm for tech companies.
They’re on their way. In 15 years, Stubbs Alderton & Markiles in Sherman Oaks has established
itself as one of the most dynamic tech-focused
firms in the L.A. area—shepherding Skype and
Beats Music from inception to sale (clients eBay
and Apple, respectively), and helping numerous
startups reach escape velocity by committing to a
field of law practice that has become, over time,
only more competitive.
Tech growth in the L.A. area, and Santa Monica
specifically, has drawn a flood of Silicon Valley
firms into the newly christened “Silicon Beach.”
The crowded field encouraged Stubbs Alderton to
look for new ways to serve its tech clients.
By 2012, says Alderton, “the whole accelerator
thing was happening” and the firm felt a need to
create a Santa Monica presence. Says Alderton:
“We wanted to do something meaningful.”
They found it with their Preccelerator program.
Like a typical startup accelerator program, the
Preccelerator (trademarked by the firm) helps
fledgling tech companies by providing support and
office space. Companies participate in the program
for a fixed length of time—in this case, six months,
after which time the firm and startup meet to determine if they both want to extend their run.
What makes Preccelerator different? Its compa-
Scott W. Alderton
nies are earlier in the development process—some-
times coming in with “just an idea, and not much
else,” according to Alderton. The second difference:
“The main component of an accelerator is funding,”
Alderton says. “They provide funding. We don’t.”
Instead, the program provides office space, AWS
and cloud computing credit and, perhaps most
importantly, access to Stubbs Alderton lawyers
and an extensive team of volunteer mentors from
across the business spectrum.
Stubbs Alderton’s Preccelerator program is a legal boon for the tech boom
BY LARRY ROSEN
“[These] are things that every startup needs,”
says Voter founder Hunter Scarborough. His
startup came to the Precelerator with 5,000 users.
By the end of a year in Santa Monica, Voter had
220,000 users and was named the “#1 Up-and-
Coming App” by Newsweek.
One of the most beneficial perks of the program,
says Scarborough, is a collegial atmosphere in
which startups, mentors and firm lawyers interact
freely. “[Early-stage startups] have pretty lean
teams,” he notes. “It’s nice to be in the trenches
with people who are facing the same hurdles as
you. We try to help each other out.”
Adds Duncan Swezey, founder of Rally, “We
entrenched ourselves in the Santa Monica space.
We all became close and feel very comfortable
opening our Rolodexes to help each other any
way we could.”
Although Alderton sometimes sounds like the
head of a non-profit—peppering the conversation
with words like “good energy”—Stubbs Alderton
has begun taking a small equity stake in each
company. “Hopefully, these companies will grow
and become clients,” Alderton says.
And at the heart of the project, Alderton says,
are benefits beyond profits.
“I had a client the other night tell someone that
he doesn’t view me as a lawyer, but as part of his
team who has a legal background—as a trusted
adviser who helps them with their business,” he
says. “That was very gratifying.”
Law office innovations
“It’s nice to be in the
trenches with people
who are facing the
same hurdles as you,”
says Voter founder