Summary List Placement
Rally, a memorabilia investing platform, has hired its first general counsel to help grow its business.
Nili T. Moghaddam, who joined Rally in January, cut her teeth in fintech law as the popular trading app Robinhood’s former head of litigation, and brings with her a 16-year track record in corporate litigation and government prosecution.
Moghaddam’s hire comes at a time of growth for Rally, which allows its more than 200,000 users to buy shares of rare collectibles, from limited-edition sneakers and Birkin bags to video games and vintage cars.
Launched in 2017, Rally secured close to $17 million in its Series A in September last year, bringing its total funding to $26 million, as previously reported in Insider. January 2021 was the busiest for the trading app: More shares were traded on the platform than in all of Q4 2020, with at least 100 assets being actively traded at any moment, according to the startup.
In September, Rally tapped George Leimer, a tech veteran and former Disney and ESPN executive, as its CEO. As the startup’s first legal hire — and its first female c-suite executive — Moghaddam will help it further expand its business and navigate the ever-shifting regulatory landscape that fintechs are uniquely positioned in.
Catching the tech bug
Moghaddam described her first 16 years in law as “traditional by most understandings,” including a total of nine years at Big Law firms Paul Weiss and Skadden.
“Corporate litigators are trained to see corners and to identify, assess, and mitigate risks,” she said. “I think those skills served me well at Robinhood and will continue to serve me well at Rally.”
She “caught the tech bug” while she was in Los Angeles, where she spent six years as an assistant US attorney before eventually pivoting in-house in August 2018, joining Robinhood as associate general counsel.
Making the move from Big Law to a fintech was “terrific and terrifying all at once,” she recalled. “But that’s when you know you’re in a good place, because you’re being challenged and you’re forced to stretch outside of your comfort zone.”
At Robinhood, Moghaddam had to not only bring her understanding of fintechs and the regulatory framework they operate in up to speed, but also learn how to strategize with the broader company to allow it to evolve and innovate — all while remaining in compliance with rules and regulations.
She declined to comment on specifics of her work at Robinhood, which has been hit by a flurry of lawsuits in the last few months, the latest of which comes in the wake of the recent GameStop Reddit trading drama. Robinhood, which has attracted hoards of new users since the start of the pandemic, was at the center of the market frenzy after it limited purchases of “meme stocks” like GameStop, AMC, and Blackberry in late January.
The decision to join Rally felt like the “logical next step” for Moghaddam. “They’re both trailblazing fintech companies, and are both really focused on the mission of democratizing access to investments,” she said.
Moghaddam first heard about the investing app through conversations with Upfront Ventures — one of Rally’s lead investors — and Daniel Gallagher, Robinhood’s chief legal officer who joined the investing app in May 2020. He also sits on Rally’s investment advisory committee.
“Nili is a brilliant and tireless advocate, and her deep background in fintech will serve Rally well,” said Gallagher in a statement.
Moghaddam’s new role at Rally will help drive growth
As part of Rally’s c-suite, Moghaddam is now a strategic partner for the company, helping it map out its product and business objectives with the legal framework in mind.
While she’s the only lawyer on Rally’s team for now, Moghaddam said that one of her first priorities as general counsel will be to pick a law firm that will be best suited as the fintech’s outside counsel.
Moghaddam will also be helping the app further expand into new product features and assets, including a 1979 Wayne Gretzky rookie trading card, valued at $800,000, and an original, fully-operational 1976 Apple 1 computer signed by Apple cofounder Steve Wozniak, valued at $825,000.
(Watches and handbags are her personal favorite asset classes on the app, she added.)
To Moghaddam, the possibilities for expansion are vast.
“Rally is the pioneer of taking a collectible asset, securitizing it, creating fractional shares around it, and allowing everyday people to come in and get a piece of what was available in the past only to the wealthy,” Moghaddam said. “So when you take that concept, you can truly extrapolate it out to anything and everything, as long as the regulations allow.”
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