Michael Gisser’s first career was as a musician. A conservatory-trained trombonist and close contemporary of Yo-Yo Ma, he branched out into jazz, pop and commercial music and became a top-call musician on the East Coast before he was 18 years old. Michael performed regularly with the Ringling Brothers Barnum & Bailey Circus and the Ice Capades, as well as backing up top acts from pop music to TSOP (The Sound of Philadelphia, including Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes (“The Love I Lost”). Since his retirement from professional music, he still enjoys the trombone, and has learned didgeridoo as well as the Great Highland Bagpipes and bongos.
After college, Michael commenced a legal career advising clients (sell- and buy-side) in doing some of the most notable merger and acquisition transactions all across the globe (selected examples include Skype, Juicy Couture, 99 Cents Only Stores), as well developing Skadden’s Asia-Pacific practice from nine lawyers to seven offices in six nations, and more than 200 staff) before retiring in good standing in early 2017. Michael is perhaps the only person to have advised on transactions greater than $1 billion in size on four continents.
Chambers Global consistently profiled Michael as a leading lawyer in both China and the United States. He has been recognized in Corporate/M&A by Chambers USA and Chambers Asia-Pacific. The Los Angeles Daily Journal consistently has listed Michael as one of California’s top “Rainmakers.” He frequently speaks at conferences on mergers and acquisitions, corporate and international business topics. Michael is an expert in corporate governance matters, mergers and acquisitions and corporate finance, and regularly teaches corporate/transaction law topics at Stanford Law School and NYU Law School.
Michael is currently a Senior Advisor at Europe’s largest venture capital firm, Atomico, led by Skype founder Niklas Zennström. Michael is an active investor in growth and technology companies, serving as Senior Advisor and Board Member.
Michael’s exemplary transactions while at Skadden Arps include:
- Apex Technology Co. (China) in its $4 billion acquisition of Lexmark International Inc. of the United States
- Youku Inc.’s $1.1 billion merger, via a stock swap, with Tudou Holdings. Both parties are PRC online video websites
- Pathbreaking U.S. retailer 99 Cents Only Store’s $1.6 billion going private transaction
- Going-private transactions involving U.S.-listed PRC businesses, including: Harbin Electric; China Security & Surveillance
- Technology; Chemspec International; FunTalk China (each of these was a “Deal of the Year”) as well as many others
- A series of change-of-control transactions involving Skype, the global Internet communications company,
- Microsoft’s purchase of Skype from current investors for $8.5 billion in cash
- The $2.8 billion acquisition of Skype from eBay Inc. by a consortium led by Silver Lake
- Skype’s 2005 acquisition by eBay for $3.6 billion (“Telecom/Technology Deal of the Year”), including the largest earnout payment ever made
- The sale of Centro Properties Group (Australia)’s U.S. shopping centers for $9.5 billion to Blackstone Group
- Walt Disney in its acquisition of the Club Penguin children’s website for up to $700 million (including an earnout)
- Goldman, Sachs & Co. as sole underwriter in a $251 million offering of common stock by Activision, Inc., a publisher of entertainment software products
- Juicy Couture, a designer and retailer of women’s wear, in its $200 million sale to Liz Claiborne
- NatSteel Electronics Corporation of Singapore in its $1.4 billionacquisition by Solectron, Inc.
- Sizeable public and private offerings of equity, debt and high-yield securities for businesses throughout the U.S. and Asia, including multiple Deals of the Year
- J.D., Stanford Law School, 1982 (Order of the Coif; senior articles editor, Stanford Law Review; special projects editor, Stanford Journal of International Law)
- A.B., Harvard College, 1978 (cum laude)
- The Juilliard School, pre-college program
Member, Executive Committee, Asia
Society Southern California
Active alumnus, Stanford Law School