How the Right Legal Team Can Help Your Start-up Grow & Prosper: Part 1

Hot on the heels of our new PrivacyTrust (formerly eTrust) certification, I had a chance to sit down and speak with Switch’s own General Counsel, Marlo Stroud, to discuss some of the legal issues start-ups face and the business impact that certifications like this can have.

In this interview we discussed: 

  • what certifications mean to start-ups
  • why you shouldn’t wait to start taking data security seriously
  • how to avoid potential legal pitfalls for your start-up

For more info on what Switch is, head over here

Marlo Go Stroud, General Counsel at

Marlo Go Stroud, General Counsel at

Marlo, tell us a little bit about yourself and your background

I’ve been at Switch Communications for about four months now, I joined back in March of this year. Prior to joining Switch, I worked in a law firm serving as outside counsel for telecommunications companies and utilities in California where I advised telecom, energy, water and transportation clients on regulatory compliance. I also spent a number of years in the general counsel’s office of CTIA-The Wireless Association so the telecom industry is something I have a little bit of a background in.

Coming from environments like that, what has it been like working in a rapidly growing start-up environment?

For an attorney, working at fast-paced start-up like Switch is like dining at an all-you-can-eat legal buffet and being at a Silicon Valley start-up, this is the Vegas style legal buffet. No day is ever the same, and there’s an endless variety of legal issues that come cross my plate. Now knowing the start-up environment, I only wish I had made the change sooner.  

Tell us a little bit about what this PrivacyTrust certification means and why Switch decided to pursue it?

I’m happy to share that has been certified by PrivacyTrust, formerly eTrust. Our privacy policy has been reviewed and we’ve met PrivacyTrust’s strict privacy and data protection requirements.  By adhering to PrivacyTrust practices, we can assure customers that that the information we collect is kept in a secure and legal manner. Switch is also Safe Harbor compliant whereby we abide by the U.S.-EU Safe Harbor Privacy Principles for data protection as set forth by the U.S. Department of Commerce and European Commission. PrivacyTrust is great at helping companies like us take a hard look at our privacy policies and offering guidance on best practices. Not only did we look at improving our current privacy practices from the perspective of sales, engineering, marketing, billing and customer support but we also needed to vet our vendors and partners to ensure that they have the same standards.

We realize that our success is completely dependent on our customer’s trust in us, and that securing their data is something that’s extremely important to the companies that we work with.

In today’s climate of high profile hackings and security breaches, we don’t think you can be competitive without ensuring that your company invests in protecting customer’s data.

What you mean by “competitive?”

There is a lot of competition out there and this is a service driven industry—so our customers have to come first. One of the worst things we could do is allow a data breach where personal or credit card information is released because our standards aren’t to the level that could have prevented that breach.

Certifications like PrivacyTrust serve as an important signal to our customers that we take things like data security seriously. For customers, it serves as a guide for them to evaluate potential vendors and partners on an even playing field, without the need for them to do a time intensive audit of our policies and procedures relating to how we treat our data.

In addition, we use it as a framework for what companies we work with, our vendors and providers must also adhere to the same standards in order for us to do business with them.

Thanks for the time Marlo, I look forward to hearing more about how you prioritize everything involved at a start-up.

Stay tuned for Part 2 for more information on how Marlo handles the important tradeoffs between growth and organizational maturity in a complex regulatory environment.

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