Don Williams is the Managing Partner and Chief Representative of the firm's Shanghai office and a partner in the firm's Corporate Practice Group.
Areas of Practice
Mr. Williams' practice encompasses a broad range of general corporate and transactional matters in both the PRC and US, including private equity and venture capital financings, mergers and acquisitions and public offerings. Mr. Williams has been recognized as one of the top China-based private equity/venture capital lawyers by Chambers Asia-Pacific in each year from 2009 through 2020, and by Legal 500 in each year from 2014 through 2020. Mr. Williams was also awarded a “China Top 15 M&A Lawyer” ranking by Asian Legal Business in 2019.
Mr. Williams was co-chair of the Legal Committee of the American Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai from 2010 to 2016, and remains a Vice Chair today.
A well regarded expert in corporate and securities law and cross-border transactions, Mr. Williams relocated from Silicon Valley to Shanghai in 2005 to open the office of a leading Silicon Valley law firm and represent Google in strategic investment and M&A transactions in China.
From 2013 to present, Mr. Williams has acted for Alibaba in 68 projects, primarily PE/VC and M&A transactions in China, the US, and elsewhere around the world.
In 2017, Mr. Williams represented Grab, Inc., the leading on-demand transportation and mobile payments platform in Southeast Asia, in its US$2.5 billion financing co-led by existing investors DiDi Chuxing and SoftBank, which was widely reported as the largest single financing in the history of Southeast Asia.
In 2020, Chambers Asia-Pacific reported: “Don Williams is adept at handling venture capital financings, most notably in the technology sector. One client appreciates that he ‘goes above and beyond’ on mandates and describes him as ‘a trusted partner who is very thorough, experienced and commercial, and has the ability to work with a number of personalities.’”
In 2019, Chambers Asia-Pacific reported: “Don Williams of Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton specialises in private equity and venture capital matters, regularly advising funds on technology-related M&A deals. One example is the assistance he provided Grab with a Series G financing.”
In 2018, Chambers Asia-Pacific reported: “Don Williams of Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton is well known for his work on technology-related M&A and private equity deals. In one work highlight, he represented FunPlus in the sale of the DianDian mobile game business to Century Huatong Group”.
In 2019, Legal 500 Asia Pacific reported: “Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton LLP's key clients comprise active investment funds and prominent companies operating in China that focus on investments in TMT companies. Don Williams led advice to Grab on its series G financing; he also acted for FunPlus Global Holding in the non-PRC legal aspects of the sale of the DianDian mobile game business to Century Huatong Group, which included tax and structuring issues and regulatory compliance.”
In 2018, Legal 500 Asia Pacific reported : “Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton LLP’s ‘level of service is very good; the team is close-knit, responsive and does not hesitate to work late or during weekends to meet tight timelines’. It regularly advises private equity firms on investments, acquisitions and portfolio company restructurings. Shanghai managing partner Don Williams is recommended for private equity and venture capital financings, M&A deals and public offerings; he has ‘vast experience and industry knowledge, a hands-on approach, and his advice is commercially practical’”.
In 2017, Chambers Asia-Pacific reported: “Don Williams heads the private equity team at Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton, where he is recommended for M&A involving the technology sector.”
In 2016, Chambers Asia-Pacific commented: “Don Williams of Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton handles a number of venture capital and equity finance transactions, especially for clients in the e-commerce and TMT sectors. Interviewees are particularly impressed by his "very good skill set and commercial stance.””
In 2015, Chambers Asia-Pacific indicated: “Don Williams of Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton impresses clients as someone who ‘is practical and knowledgeable, and thinks in the shoes of the client.’ He is experienced in overseeing transactions for clients in the technology and e-commerce sectors.”
In 2014, Chambers Asia-Pacific also noted: “Don Williams leverages his Silicon Valley background to advise a variety of private equity and venture capital funds. He lately represented Alibaba with respect to purchasing a US$ 294 million stake in Nasdaq listed mapping and navigating company Autonavi.”
In 2013, Chambers Asia-Pacific reported: “‘Professional, experienced and detailed,’ Don Williams of Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton continues to impress market observers. He has considerable experience of handling a wide variety of private equity and venture capital financings, and remains a popular choice for clients...”
Over the years, Mr. Williams has represented private and public companies across many industries, including Alibaba, Alipay (支付宝(中国)网络技术有限公司), Ant Financial Services (蚂蚁金融服务), Acorn International, Autodesk, BCD Semiconductor, Bridge Pharmaceuticals, Cachet Hotels, Cainiao Network Technology Co., Ltd. (菜鸟网络), China Branding Group, Cisco Systems, Cyte Therapeutics, Fanstang, FunPlus Games, Google, Grab, Hanson Robotics, Honeywell, IGVault, Innovation Works Limited, Kuaidi Dache (快的打车), Legend 3D, Next Entertainment Global Holding, Newport Corporation, PharmaLegacy, Polycom, Radii China, RealD, Samsung, Seabed Software Holding Ltd. SeaWorld, Sigma Designs, Smarter Micro, SMIC, SunSun Lighting, and ZillionSource Technologies.
Mr. Williams has also represented venture capital and private equity funds, including Angelvest, BASF Venture Capital GmbH, Chengwei Ventures, DFJ Dragon Ventures, Fidelity/Eight Roads, GSR Ventures, Granite Global Ventures, KPCB China, Lakeside Ventures, Robert Bosch Ventrue Capital GmbH, Sequoia Capital, Qiming Ventures, Softbank China Venture Capital, IFC, JAFCO, Vantage Point Venture Partners, Three Bell Capital LLC, and Advanced Technology Ventures, in connection with portfolio investments and other transactions as well as investment banks, including Credit Suisse First Boston, JMP Securities, Morgan Stanley, and UBS, in connection with public offerings.
Mr. Williams has also represented both buyers and sellers in a large number of M&A transactions, including: Alibaba in its acquisition of CNZZ and various other companies; FunPlus in the sale of DianDian mobile game business to Century Huatong Group (世纪华通), Kuaidi Dache (快的打车) in its acquisition of Da Huang Feng (大黄蜂); Kingstone Semiconductor in its acquisition by Amtech Systems; Focus Media in its acquisition of CGEN; Autodesk in its acquisition of Discreet Logic, Buzzsaw, and other companies; Equator in its acquisition by Pixelworks; PeoplePC in its acquisition by Earthlink; Polycom in its acquisition of PictureTel and other companies; Caretta Integrated Circuits in its acquisition by Cirrus Logic; Xicor in its acquisition by Intersil; Zeevo in its acquisition by Broadcom; and Google in multiple transactions in China.
Recommended by The Legal 500 Asia Pacific 2020, 2019, 2018, 2017 and 2016: Private Equity/Venture Capital - Foreign firms, 2020, 2019, 2018, 2017 and 2016
Named to "China Private Equity" list of "leading individuals" in Chambers Asia: Asia's Leading Lawyers for Business, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020
Recognized as a “2019 ALB China Top 15 M&A Lawyer”.
Recognized for his seven years of service as Chair of the Legal Committee by AmCham Shanghai
Co-chair, Legal Committee, The American Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai, from 2010 to 2016, and current Vice-Chair
Foreign Language Bio
J.D., Harvard Law School, 1993, cum laude
B.A., Stanford University, 1989, with honors and distinction
- Mandarin Chinese