Cocktails and Conversation: Fran Maier Provides Insight on Lessons Learned – From Start Up to C-Suite to the Boardroom

InfoLawGroup is holding a series of popup panel discussions called “cocktails and conversations.” Our latest discussion was about what it takes for women to ascend to the upper echelons of business and featured successful entrepreneur and CEO, Fran Maier.

Fran is now the CEO of one of the fastest growing gig-economy startups, Babierge, which is changing the way parents travel with children all across the country. Babierge has had lightening fast growth over the past year and a half, but its rapid success is not surprising considering Fran brings the experience of being co-founder of, former CEO of TRUSTe (now TrustArc) and former board member of GE Capital Bank. She has served as Chair of the Stanford for Women on Boards initiative and has been and advisor and angel investor for several start-ups.

Following are some of the key takeaways that Fran offered to women looking to launch successful businesses and/or to break through barriers to the Boardroom.

Play to Win

Fran started off the discussion by talking about how women are the heart of small business yet only 2% of venture-backed businesses are women owned. And, According to 2020 Women on Boards, 29% of Fortune 1000 companies still have one or no women on the Board. Most of the problem lies in how money is raised and how boardroom talent is sourced, but women can also hold themselves back.

Fran gave examples of times in her career when she has seen women decide to cash in their chips early on in the lifecycle of a startup or lay off employees rather than invest their own money to keep the startup growing. She said that same fear that makes women risk adverse also stops them from asking for what they want, such a money and board assignments.

“Women play to survive,” said Fran. “Women should play to win.”

Support Other Women

Women who play to win support each other. For example, in the ’90s, in between ventures and lamenting the recession over drinks, Fran and a female peer vowed to always help each other in business. Fran coached her friend on landing a high profile position at a leading technology company. Then, when Fran was the CEO of TRUSTe and transitioning it from a non-profit to a venture backed for-profit, her friend introduced her to a woman at a leading venture capital firm who would become TRUSTe’s lead investor and later Babierge’s first angel investor. The more women who reach out and support each other, the further women will come in making strides in the C-suite and the boardroom. Professional women should avail themselves to the plethora of opportunities (SheEO and Portfolia, for example) to invest and advise early women-led start-ups

 Ask for What You Want and Be Persistent

 Sometimes you have to make “unreasonable requests.” Of course you will not always get what you ask for, but you will never get what you do not ask for. Persistence is the key success. And making sure that you are brave enough to ask for help as well as to make the “big asks” – whether that be venture capital money, or equity, or a title or whatever it is that you need and want to be a success. The first step is to know who to ask and then to ask.

 Network and Get on the Lists

 Networking remains the dominant means that companies source boardroom talent. Going back to the importance of asking for what you want, women should tell the people around them, including their higher ups, that they are interested in serving on a board. There are also specific board registries that connect women with boardroom opportunities and anyone thinking about pursuing a corporate board position should investigate those services. (BoardList, Equilar, . . . )

Build A Boardroom Ready Resume

Women need to keep in mind that pursuing a boardroom position is different than landing a job. When it comes to breaking through the barriers to the boardroom, women should think about the functional experience that boards need in this current business climate and highlight how their experience alleviates the board’s pain points.

For example, many board members lack the technology knowledge to navigate a business environment riddled with privacy and security risks. Women with privacy, security and e-commerce talent should emphasize these skills on their boardroom resumes. You may also have specific finance or other relevant experience. Work with a consultant or talk to anyone you can to learn how to make your resume read “board ready.”


VTech to Pay $650,000 to Settle FTC COPPA Complaint

Last week, the Federal Trade Commission announced a settlement with toy manufacturer VTech Electronics, its first action involving internet-connected toys. In its complaint, the FTC alleged that VTech’s information collection and security practices related to certain child-directed services violated the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) and that a misrepresentation in its privacy policy separately violated the FTC Act’s prohibition on deceptive practices.  The action follows a 2015 hack of VTech that exposed data regarding 6.4 million child users of its services.

VTech sells (among other things) “electronic learning products” targeted to children ages 3-9.  Primarily at issue in the FTC’s complaint was an app called Kid Connect that could be used by children through some of these toys. To use Kid Connect, a parent first had to register an account through VTech’s Learning Lodge website and then set-up Kid Connect accounts for themselves and their child(ren). By November 2015, there were over 638,000 Kid Connect child accounts.

Once registered, children could use Kid Connect to communicate with contacts who had been authorized by the child’s parent by using a direct-messaging feature or posting to a message board.  Per the FTC, VTech collected COPPA-regulated personal information from Kid Connect users, “including the content of text messages or messages to shared electronic bulletin boards, user names for a child that could be used to contact the child, and photographs and audio files containing a child’s image or voice.” Continue Reading

InfoLawGroup is a featured privacy and security firm in LegalTech News article

InfoLawGroup is honored to be among  the law firms featured in the recent LegalTech News article “The Data Defenders: How Firms Focused on Privacy and Security Make Their Living.” The article discusses how the selected privacy and cybersecurity-focused law firms  are uniquely meeting the challenges facing clients today.  The article features InfoLawGroup Partner Justine Young Gottshall discussing how InfoLawGroup works as an extension of the in-house team to address  these important matters for clients. 

Log into LegalTech News to read the full article (account required).



Deadline is Set for Enhanced Notice in Online Interest-Based Video Ads

The Online Interest-Based Advertising Accountability Program (“Accountability Program“), the enforcement program run by the Better Business Bureau (BBB), announced that the time has come for companies to give enhanced (just-in-time) notice to consumers in online interest-based (behavioral) video advertisements.  As of April 1, 2018, the Accountability Program will require companies to provide consumers enhanced notice with every video ad roll (mobile and desktop) that target to a consumer on the basis of their perceived interests.  The date was announced this week in a press release and Compliance Warning. Continue Reading

Remember: It is Time to Update Your DMCA Filing.

As previously reported, last year the Copyright Office introduced a new electronic process through which online service providers must file their designation of agent pursuant to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (“DMCA). Under the old, paper-based filing system, designations remained valid indefinitely unless replaced or affirmatively withdrawn.  However, as part of the transition into the new electronic system, service providers who previously filed a paper DMCA agent designation are required to re-file no later than December 31, 2017, in order to maintain their eligibility for safe-harbor protections.  After December 31st, all previously filed paper designations will be invalidated. (Note also that, under the new system, filings will need to be renewed every three years. Please see our previous post for more details on the changes made by the Copyright Office as part of last year’s update.)

If your company has not already filed a new DMCA designation through the electronic system, the time to do so is right now.  (If your company is an online service provider that hosts user-generated content and has not previously filed a DMCA agent designation, paper or otherwise, it is always a good time to come into compliance with the DMCA’s safe-harbor requirements.) You can find out more about the new filing system by visiting the Copyright Office’s website or contacting the attorneys of InfoLawGroup.


Willful or Knowing Violation of the TCPA: Treble Damages and What Businesses Should Know

A U.S. District Court signaled that deterrence was a significant factor in awarding treble damages in a Telephone Consumer Protection Act (“TCPA“) lawsuit. The United States District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina Judge Catherine C. Eagles (the “Court“) denied to reduce or set aside a $61 million judgment against Dish Network LLC (“Dish“) for violating the TCPA.[1] Businesses should pay attention to this case because TCPA lawsuits are attractive to class action plaintiffs’ counsel due to the statutory damages, $500 per violation (that is per call/text) or up to triple the amount for “willful or knowing” violations – which could mean a whopping $1,500 per violation. The TCPA statute leaves it up to the court to decide what is a knowing or willful, so any time a court finds a knowing or willful violation it could make it easier for other plaintiffs to get large awards. Continue Reading

Getting to the Root of the Problem

We all know that food and beverage companies cannot expressly lie to consumers about the ingredients in their products. But what about implying that a certain ingredient is included in the product; one that is known to have some health benefits? In a recent class action lawsuit alleging that Dr. Pepper Snapple Group Inc. falsely advertised that Canada Dry ginger ale contains actual ginger root, the United States District Court for the Northern District of California permitted the lawsuit to proceed by denying Dr. Pepper’s motion to dismiss.

In Jackie Fitzhenry-Russell et al,[1], plaintiffs claimed that they were the victims of fraud by relying upon the phrase “Made From Real Ginger” on cans of Canada Dry, in addition to its advertising making similar statements and visual implications. Whether Canada Dry actually contains ginger root is important because, according to plaintiffs, a reason they bought and drank Canada Dry was the well-known health benefits of consuming ginger root.

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FTC Sets Out How Kids’ Apps Can Use Voice-Based Features under COPPA

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has indicated that operators of child-directed online services may permissibly offer voice search and similar features without first obtaining parental consent under the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), provided that certain requirements are satisfied. In an “Enforcement Policy Statement” on COPPA released today, the FTC clarified that – while there is no pertinent exception to the requirements of its COPPA Rule – it would not bring an enforcement against an operator based on collection of an audio recording that captures a child’s voice where:

  • the recording is collected “solely as a replacement for written words” (e.g., voice search or verbal instructions);
  • the recording is maintained only long enough to complete that purpose and then is immediately deleted;
  • in its COPPA-mandated children’s privacy policy, the operator provides clear notice of its collection and use of voice recordings and its deletion policy;
  • the operator does not use the voice recording for any other purpose prior to deletion (e.g., user identification through voice recognition); and
  • the operator does not use voice features to request information that would itself be considered “personal information” under COPPA (e.g., no names, email address, etc.).

This is obviously helpful news, particularly for those who operate child-directed services on platforms where voice search is becoming de rigueur. However, those considering relying on this policy statement should be careful to ensure that they not only comply with the FTC’s requirements at the outset, but that they have in place monitoring procedures to confirm continued compliance going forward.

The Long Reach of the GDPR

The Long Reach of the GDPR

This is a wake-up call for those who think the new EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which will be enforced starting in May 2018, is not a serious compliance issue outside Europe.  Here’s why you should care:

  • Your European partners, affiliates, or customers will have to ensure that you respect the stricter requirements of the GDPR in handling any personal data they share with you.
  • The GDPR expands the territorial scope of Europe’s privacy laws: it applies directly to processing in support of activities in Europe, as well as to the offering of goods or services to European residents and “monitoring” their behavior, even from outside the EU.
  • The GDPR imposes new obligations and potential liabilities for processors as well as controllers. You need to be aware of those responsibilities even if you feel confident that you will always be characterized as a “mere processor” following the instructions of a European controller.

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