Career path: Heard joined Abingworth in 2006 from Intel Capital, the venture capital investment arm of Intel Corporation, where he was European legal counsel. Prior to this, Heard was an associate at the international financial law practice, Hughes Hubbard & Reed, based in Washington, DC, US, and subsequently in Paris, France. He is a member of the District of Columbia and Maryland State Bars, and has qualified as a UK solicitor.
Making the terms fit: Heard first began working on venture deals at the Paris office of Hughes, Hubbard & Reed in the late 90s, at the height of the dotcom bubble. One of the biggest challenges he faced was ?trying to adapt Silicon Valley-style investment terms, which had evolved under a relatively flexible company law regime in the US, to the much less flexible civil law code systems on the Continent,? he said. In 2000, Intel Capital, an HH&R client, persuaded Heard to join their expanding European team based in the UK.
A three-legged stool: At Intel, Heard was responsible for investments and exits ?mainly in Western Europe, but also Israel, Poland, Russia and the UAE ?as well as investments that involved a ?US flip? in which companies relocated to the US. He says the deal team operated a ?three-legged stool? model in which the financial, legal and strategic/technology roles were all equally essential. ?The roles were not compartmentalised and my input was expected and appreciated on all commercial and strategic issues beyond the purely ?legal? points.? Heard or a legal colleague had a vote on all investment committee decisions.
Broader role: At Abingworth, which has just closed its eighth life science fund on £300 million ($585 million), Heard says he has a broader role than at Intel ?the in-house legal team has two people rather than Intel’s 300. His tasks include project managing investments and exits, such as M&A and IPOs, and fundraising. He is also company secretary, with employment law and securities law responsibilities, and assists portfolio companies that do not have their own in-house counsel.
Campaigner: As a member of the Venture Committee of the British Venture Capital Association, Heard has co-led several BVCA projects aimed at reducing the time and cost of negotiating venture capital legal documentation in the UK by moving the industry towards more standardised drafting (e.g. once the level of antidilution protection is commercially agreed, not waste time and energy on drafting the formula). These projects include a BVCA Guide to Venture Capital Term Sheets and a recently published full suite of Series A model investment documents for the UK. He is also an active member of the Best Practices Committee of l’Association Francaise des Investisseurs en Capital (French Venture Capital Association).