Gunderson Dettmer Stough Villeneuve Franklin & Hachigian is hedging its bet on the innovation economy in Latin America, opening an office in São Paulo, Brazil.
Corporate partners Brian Hutchings, Adan Muller and Christel Moreno will lead the office. Hutchings and Muller will split their time between New York and São Paulo, while Moreno will reside in São Paulo along with three associates.
Hutchings, the co-leader of the firm’s Latin America practice and a member of its management committee, said the firm has represented entrepreneurs and investors in the region since 2006 and counts over 200 clients in Latin America today.
The new office signals the firm’s continued commitment to the region, he said.
“We’re showing our clients we are there for the long haul,” Hutchings said. “This puts attorneys on the ground within arm’s reach, and will help us remain closer to changes and trends in the market.”
Serving clients in Latin America, even remotely, has been “incredibly successful,” Gunderson Dettmer managing partner David Young said. “But there is a different level of relationship to a market [when] you have a physical location. We saw this in other expansions. There is another layer of work that becomes available.”
Gunderson Dettmer represented companies or investors in over 125 financings in Latin America in 2021—more than twice as many as the next closest law firm, according to Pitchbook.
The firm has handled over 600 cross-border venture and growth equity financings in Latin America since 2017 and advised Latin America-based companies in more than $3.8 billion in mergers and acquisitions since 2014.
Its work has included Didi’s acquisition of 99 Taxi, Uber’s acquisition of Mexico-based Cornershop, Etsy’s acquisition of Elo7 and SoFi’s acquisition of Technisys.
Young noted that Gunderson Dettmer has a number of partners interested in serving the Latin America market, and expects São Paulo to act as a platform to expand work for clients in other countries such as Mexico, Chile and Argentina.
Gunderson Dettmer has earned a “strong reputation for not only world-class work but also as a bridge between Latin America and the larger international venture community,” Moreno said in a statement, noting the firm’s strong relationships with “leading venture capital firms investing in the region” will foster growth.
Despite the current economic down cycle, there are several indicators that demand will remain strong in Brazil, according to Hutchings.
“The rate of technology growth, the level of entrepreneurship, the availability of capital and access to support networks [are all] going in the right direction,” he said. “That gives us room to grow.”
At the same time, the rate of technology usage and adoption based on individual internet users is high. In fact, Brazil is one of the largest markets for internet giants such as Meta and Google, and the firm expects to continue to see demand from U.S. companies looking to expand in Latin America, according to Hutchings.
With the opening of its São Paulo office, Gunderson Dettmer now has 11 offices, with more than 420 lawyers in the global venture capital, growth equity and emerging companies sectors.
“This is a significant, long-term opportunity for us,” Young said. “We’re excited about going down there despite economic conditions across the globe. The firm is doing quite well, and we’re excited about this investment.”