About Yokum

wsgrwebpic.jpg Yoichiro (“Yokum”) Taku is a corporate and securities partner in the Palo Alto, California office of Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati. My WSGR web bio is here.

WSGR represents:
• more than 20% of the companies receiving venture financing each year;
• more U.S. companies in their initial public offerings than any other law firm worldwide; and
• more technology companies in mergers and acquisitions than any other U.S. law firm.

I represent technology and growth companies at all stages of development, through private financings, strategic transactions, public offerings, and mergers and acquisitions. I also represent investors in venture capital financings. I advise numerous entrepreneurs from initial company formation to liquidity event. At any time, I typically represent several startup companies seeking venture financing, private companies that have received financing, and publicly traded companies. In 2011, I completed more financings than anyone else at WSGR.

I was born in Osaka, Japan in 1968. I moved to Toronto, Canada when I was under a year old because my father was completing a Ph.D at the University of Toronto. I later moved to St. Paul, Minnesota when I was in kindergarten because my father ended up at the University of Minnesota. I learned how to program in BASIC on a mainframe computer in fifth grade and received an Apple II+ computer when I was in sixth grade (sometime in 1979). In eighth grade, someone figured out that I was particularly good at math and I started taking math classes at the University of Minnesota.  However, I took my last advanced math class in eleventh grade.

In college, I was a policy debater and also coached high school debate, which resulted in a habit of numbering my answers to questions and speaking extremely quickly under pressure.  I graduated from the University of Minnesota in 1990 and the University of Chicago Law School in 1993. After 20+ years of living in really cold places, I joined WSGR as a summer associate. I worked at the Tokyo law firm of Nagashima Ohno & Tsunematsu in 1994 and 1995. I became a partner at WSGR in 2001.

I typically represent technology companies in various sectors including web 2.0, mobile, semiconductors, EDA, security, software, networking, clean tech, digital media, video games, virtual worlds, medical devices and pharmaceuticals.  I have also occasionally represented non-technology companies in various sectors including coffee, tea, alcohol, marine fuel, performance auto parts and restaurants.

Mostly during the IPO bubble era, I represented the issuer or the underwriter in the IPOs for Biopsys, Blaze Software, broadcast.com, Chemoil Energy, Convergent Group, Corsair, Ditech, drugstore.com, First Virtual, Hambrecht & Quist Group, Newgen Results, Packeteer, PeoplePC, Ramp Networks, Terayon, and Xylan.

I have represented companies that have been sold to Access, Cadence, EA, Earthlink, Fox Interactive Media, Kabam, McAfee, Microsoft, Namco, Novellus, Nvidia, RockYou, Winbond, Yahoo!, Zynga and many others.

I also lead Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati’s Japan practice. I generally claim that I speak Japanese well enough to get married (as my wife is a Japanese national). I was allowed to take Japanese in college as a second language and took enough classes to get a minor. I advise U.S. companies on their transactions in Japan (typically joint ventures and acquisitions), and Japanese companies on their transactions in the United States (typically acquisitions and investments). I represented Savvian, LLC, a San Francisco-based investment bank on its $780 million merger of equals with GCA Holdings, a Japanese investment bank. This was the first transaction where a Japanese publicly-traded company acquired a U.S. company in a tax-free pooling transaction in a joint kabushiki iten structure, and the only similar transaction was completed in 1990. I also represented DeNA Co. Ltd. on their acquisition of mobile gaming company ngmoco for $403 million, which was the first transaction where a Japanese publicly-traded company acquired a U.S. company in a triangular tax-free stock for stock merger.

I also advise numerous companies with operations in Asia and have experience with complex cross-border IPOs. I represented Chemoil Energy on its IPO on the Singapore Exchange in December 2006 and have been advising several companies on potential IPOs on the Tokyo Stock Exchange. I represented a Korean company acquire a Nasdaq-listed Bermuda company with operations in Hong Kong and Shenzen. I also represent Cayman companies with operations in China in venture financings.

I’ve been incorporating a lot of new startup companies, many of which have completed angel or venture financings.  I work closely with incubators and accelerators like AngelPad, Churn Labs and TheFunded Founder Institute and represent many of the companies that come out of these programs.  I meet with or talk to several entrepreneurs each week and end up representing some of them if I think they have potential or I like the team.  I’ve also represented venture funds in various financings.

I am the chair of the Subcommittee on Angel Venture Financing of the American Bar Association’s Business Law Section.  I regularly judge in various business plan competitions and speak several times a year on various topics related to startups and venture financings. I recently had an article and picture about me in the New York Times.   I’ve had a sound bite on NPR.  I’ve been quoted in various publications like the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, TechCrunch, VentureBeat, Forbes, Business Week and Reuters.  Posts from this blog have been on the online version of the Wall Street Journal.

I am on the advisory boards of the Strategic Venture Association and the Asia-Pacific Student Entrepreneurship Society at Stanford. I am on the board of the Asian Law Alliance and the Japanese American Chamber of Commerce of Silicon Valley. I am co-chair of the diversity council at WSGR and support various Asian American community organizations.

In my free time, I play tennis multiple times a week and occasionally play golf. I watch more television than most people I know and I was working on my microstakes poker skills until the powers that be shut down online poker for U.S. residents. I was at the 49ers – Saints and 49ers – Giants playoff games last year, and constantly check fantasy football stats from poor 3G and 4G coverage at Candlestick on Sundays.