When Google changed its policy in 2020 to require all businesses selling apps through the Google Play Store to use Google’s electronic bill pay system, officials at Match Group quickly realized that this meant hundreds of millions of dollars in lost revenue. The alternative was even more devastating — being booted off Google Play, which generated billions in revenues from Android users for Match brands, such as Tinder, PlentyofFish and Match.com. The Match legal team — including Chief Legal Officer Jared Sine, Associate General Counsel Jeanette Teckman, Senior Litigation Counsel Stephen Myers and Litigation Counsel Katie Johnson — tried to work with Google on a resolution for two years, but finally decided in March 2022 to sue its largest business partner on allegations of market manipulation, broken promises and abuse of power.
The challenges for the Match legal group included Google’s extraordinarily positive public reputation and its army of successful lawyers, three million documents of discovery to review, an expedited trial plan set by the judge and co-plaintiffs combined into the litigation that did not always see eye-to-eye with Match on all issues. Winning at trial was anything but a sure thing. In fact, Apple had defeated a nearly identical lawsuit in 2021 and 2023. Efforts to reach an out-of-court agreement were fruitless.
Just days before trial was scheduled to start in November, Match scored an historic settlement agreement with Google that brought, according to an earlier Texas Lawbook report, an estimated $300 million and other benefits to the Dallas company.
The Lawbook visited with the 2023 DFW Corporate Counsel Award honoree about Johnson’s best day at Match and what outside counsel should know about her.
Texas Lawbook: What are the factors you consider when deciding about hiring outside counsel?
Katie Johnson: Costs are always going to be a factor when choosing outside counsel, but another factor I find compelling is when outside counsel has a deep understanding and point of view on a case without having to heavily reference written materials during pitches. Thinking outside of the box on how to get rid of a case early is also something I have learned from Jeanette as being imperative to winning efficiently.
Lawbook: What has been your best day working at Match?
Johnson: I remember my first day joining an all-hands for the legal team where we spent part of the meeting congratulating each group on recent wins and successes. I thought that this was just because there were a few new hires in the meeting. After nearly three years, I now know that was an authentic, regular occurrence, and that it epitomizes the culture Jared has created for the team.
Lawbook: What does outside counsel need to know about you?
Johnson: My biggest pet peeve is when outside counsel tries to reinvent the wheel unnecessarily. Thinking outside the box is always appreciated, but often times we will get work product back where they clearly spent hours wordsmithing exemplar motions we provided to adapt to the current case without any new legal theories or case law.
Click here for the full profile of Johnson and the Match legal team’s Business Litigation of the Year Award.