Rich Sapien graduated from Stanford Law School in Stanford, California. While in law school, Rich volunteered at Project ReMade, an entrepreneurship training program for formerly incarcerated people. Rich graduated from the University of Texas at El Paso in El Paso, Texas with a BBA in Economics.

Prior to Vela Wood, Rich practiced at Fenwick & West and Gunderson Dettmer, two of Silicon Valley’s top startup law firms.

Rich represents startups through all stages of their lifecycle – from incorporation, to fundraising, to go-to-market, to exit. He has served as corporate counsel to startups of all sizes (from first-time founders to Unicorns with a legal team), Fortune 500 tech companies, and VC firms.

Rich also focuses on corporate patterning, privacy compliance, tech transactions and protection and commercialization of IP. He does this for startups in various industries (from enterprise SaaS to social media to e-commerce to medical device to life sciences) and by structuring and negotiating a wide range of transactions and agreements (including IP licenses, development agreements, partnership and revenue-share agreements, SaaS agreements, supply and distribution agreements, channel agreements, and terms of service and privacy policies).

Rich was born and raised in San Diego, California. He spent his high school and college years in El Paso, Texas, his adopted (second) hometown. He now splits his time between both cities. He is a member of the State Bar of California.

Select Transactions

  • Represented hundreds of companies and dozens of investors in venture financings (with valuations ranging from $1M to over $1B)
  • Represented SaaS startup as IP counsel in merger with Foursquare
  • Represented medical device company in buy-side asset purchase
  • Represented hardware manufacturer in development and supply agreement with Foxconn
  • Represented dozens of companies in GDPR and CCPA compliance

Fun Facts:

  • He designed the first official website for Heisman winner and former NFL all-pro, Reggie Bush.
  • Once a year, he lands his favorite skateboarding trick—a heelflip—to prove to himself that he can still do it.
  • He has watched the Dallas Cowboys play against 10 different teams in 11 different stadiums.


  • Stanford Law School, J.D.
  • University of Texas at El Paso, BBA in Economics, High Honors