Rich Sapien

Senior Attorney

Rich Sapien is a senior attorney at Vela Wood. He represents startups through all stages of their lifecycle – from incorporation, to fundraising, to go-to-market, to exit. He advises on strategic corporate matters and transactions and also focuses on corporate partnering, privacy compliance, tech transactions, and protection and commercialization of IP.

“You see you wouldn’t ask why the rose that grew from the concrete had damaged petals. On the contrary, we would all celebrate its tenacity. We would all love its will to reach the sun.” – Tupac Shakur

Rich represents startups through all stages of their lifecycle – from incorporation, to fundraising, to go-to-market, to exit. He has served as corporate counsel to startups of all sizes (from first-time founders to Unicorns with a legal team), Fortune 500 tech companies, and VC firms.

Rich also focuses on corporate patterning, privacy compliance, tech transactions and protection and commercialization of IP. He does this for startups in various industries (from enterprise SaaS to social media to e-commerce to medical device to life sciences) and by structuring and negotiating a wide range of transactions and agreements (including IP licenses, development agreements, partnership and revenue-share agreements, SaaS agreements, supply and distribution agreements, channel agreements, and terms of service and privacy policies).

Prior to Vela Wood, Rich practiced at Fenwick & West and Gunderson Dettmer, two of Silicon Valley’s top startup law firms.

Rich studied law at Stanford University. While there, he volunteered at Project ReMade, an entrepreneurship training program for formerly incarcerated people. He received his BBA in Economics from the University of Texas at El Paso.

Rich was born and raised in San Diego, California. He spent his high school and college years in El Paso, Texas, his adopted (second) hometown. He now splits his time between both cities. He is a member of the State Bar of California.

Select Transactions

  • Represented hundreds of companies and dozens of investors in venture financings (with valuations ranging from $1M to over $1B)
  • Represented SaaS startup as IP counsel in merger with Foursquare
  • Represented medical device company in buy-side asset purchase
  • Represented hardware manufacturer in development and supply agreement with Foxconn
  • Represented dozens of companies in GDPR and CCPA compliance