Twitter's top lawyer, Alexander Macgillivray, is leaving the social website as it gears up for a potential initial public offering.
Macgillivray, who was poached from Google (GOOG) in 2009, will continue to serve as an adviser as he explores opportunities outside of San Francisco-based Twitter, he said in a blog post. Vijaya Gadde, a former lawyer for Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, is replacing him as general counsel, Jim Prosser, a spokesman for Twitter, wrote in an emailed statement.
Twitter is losing one of its most experienced and visible senior managers as it takes steps toward a market debut. Macgillivray championed the free speech of Twitter's users as the site became a tool of protest in the Middle East and elsewhere, and opposed measures by U.S. regulators and lawmakers to censor citizens.
"I am proud to have worked with colleagues who defend and respect the user's voice; who push freedom of expression and transparency; and who innovate and lead," Macgillivray wrote on his blog.
Gadde, who joined Twitter as legal director last year, will draw on her many years of experience handling IPOs, mergers and corporate governance, said Larry Sonsini, chairman of Gadde's former employer and a well-known Silicon Valley lawyer.
"She's got great skills because her position with us in the firm was pretty multifaceted in representing enterprises, particularly in the tech space," Sonsini, whose firm represents Twitter, said in an interview.
While Twitter Chief Executive Officer Dick Costolo has said that management isn't concentrating on an IPO, the company is widely predicted to hold a share sale before long to help it bankroll expansion, and give some early investors a way to realize financial gains on their holdings.
Twitter bolstered its management team this week by hiring Nathan Hubbard, the former head of Live Nation Entertainment's Ticketmaster division, as its first commerce chief. Earlier this year, Twitter hired former Morgan Stanley executive Cynthia Gaylor to run corporate development.
Gadde is one of few women to become a top lawyer at a large technology firm, Sonsini said.