It was 2004 when Gabe Karp joined ePrize, an online interactive promotions company, as its general counsel and executive vice president. Before Karp, the company’s legal team consisted of one person, who handled the company’s work from his private practice. As the era of text messaging and social media began to unfold, ePrize’s clientele increased and the company needed a full-time legal team. Today, ePrize’s legal department consists of nine people and has managed to keep the company out of legal trouble. In May, Karp was named Crain’s Detroit Business’ Top General Counsel for privately held companies under $1 billion due to his success with ePrize.
Karp says that when he started at ePrize, the company was just beginning to take advantage of new channels.
“Back then,” he says, “the Internet itself hadn’t really been adopted by mainstream business. Text messaging was a big thing in 2004 and 2005, so we were running campaigns and launching them for some of the largest companies in the world through channels in which no one had drafted any laws.”
Under Karp’s leadership, ePrize has turned its legal department from a cost center to a profit center. The company also provides legal services to its clients if claims are brought against their promotions. “We’ve run over 6,000 promotions in 45 countries and have had zero claims brought against them,” Karp says. “The job that was put to me was, ‘Hey, we’re going to do very cutting-edge things that no one has done before. We better not get sued because if we do, it’s your fault.’ I knew at the end of the day, if it was one guy holding the bag, it was going to be me.”
Because engaging customers through mobile and media channels, such as mobile-optimized websites and apps, has become a popular marketing tactic, Karp says it’s likely more regulation and legislation for these channels will be adopted. “It’s certainly been a challenge for me,” he says about keeping up with legislation regarding the ever-changing technology. “Certainly, there’s a lot of risk at the end of the day, but it’s the kind of thing that makes you kick off the sheets in the morning and come to work.”