The Change Agent
Josh Floum helped Visa unify its
business and continues to guide
the company as currency evolves
BY LARRY ROSEN
PHOTOGRAPHY BY GREGORY COWLEY
“IT WASN’T SOMETHING I PLANNED FOR,” SAYS JOSH FLOUM,
general counsel of Visa Inc., looking and sounding at ease in a
29th-floor conference room at Visa’s San Francisco headquarters.
He isn’t talking about an antitrust lawsuit, nor the emergence
of rival credit-card company China Union Pay. He is talking
about his job.
In 2003, Floum was chair of the California litigation practice
for Holme, Roberts & Owen (now merged with Bryan Cave), and
had spent his entire two-decade career working for law firms. He
was a litigator, perhaps best known for his high-profile pro bono
work for the Earth Island Institute that had changed the world of
Then he got a call from Visa U.S.A.’s then-general counsel Paul
Allen. “I’d been doing work for Visa as an outside attorney for 25
years, usually litigation matters in the antitrust and intellectual
property areas,” Floum says. “I thought he was calling to give
me more work.” He was not. Allen was retiring. He was looking
for his replacement. “[The call] was very different from what I
anticipated,” says Floum.
Floum had never worked in a corporate setting. “I’m not the type
of person you want,” Floum told Allen.
SUPER LAWYERS / BUSINESS EDITION 2012