Youngest-ever Havard Law grad paid more than Tim Cook unexpectedly quits

Kiwi Camara, the chief executive of legal tech firm CS Disco, turned heads earlier this year when data highlighted him as one of just nine CEOs to get a bigger paycheck than Apple’s Tim Cook last year.

Camara’s compensation totaled $110 million last year, compared to Cook’s $99 million, according to the Wall Street Journal in July, citing data from analytics company C-Suite Comp. In the company’s rankings, Camara came in just below Pinterest CEO Bill Ready (who received $123 million in pay), while Blackstone’s Stephen Schwarzman topped the list with a $253 million paycheck. 

But the bumper pay wasn’t enough for Camara to stay in the role.

On Monday, CS Disco revealed in a stock filing that Camara was stepping down as CEO, with immediate effect. The filing gave few details of the circumstances of Camara’s exit, only saying that it was not due to “any disagreement with the Company on any matter relating to the Company’s operations, policies or practices.”

Yet much of Camara’s sizable paycheck may not come to fruition, given the terms of his exit. Almost all of Camara’s compensation came in the form of stock options, which would normally only vest when the company’s stock passed certain thresholds, the lowest being $150, according to the Wall Street Journal. CS Disco’s shares have not even reached half that level since it started trading in 2021. 

Shares in CS Disco have fallen by over 26% since Monday, when the company disclosed that Camara was leaving the company. The company now has a market capitalization of just $422 million. CS Disco’s shares are now almost 90% below their peak of $65.88 in September 2021.

CS Disco did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Founded in 2013, CS Disco provides technologies like artificial intelligence to law firms, thus saving time on tasks like legal discovery.

On Monday, CS Disco appointed board member Scott Hill as its interim CEO. Hill previously served as CFO and special advisor to the CEO of Intercontinental Exchange. Hill will be paid a salary of $50,000 and restricted stock options of around 32,000 shares (worth about $225,000 at Thursday’s closing price).

CS Disco reported $34.3 million in revenue for the quarter ending June 30, 2023, a rise of 2% year-on-year. It also narrowed losses to $14.9 million, compared to $20.2 million a year earlier. The company has never reported a profit since it went public. 

Kiwi Camara’s career

Camara has had a prominent and, at times, controversial career. He’s the youngest-ever graduate of Harvard Law School, getting his degree at the age of 19. Yet his schooling was marked by a scandal when, at the age of 16, he shared class notes that included a racial slur. Camara apologized for the mistake, yet thinks the resulting controversy denied him opportunities at major law firms.

Camara then set up a firm with his Law School classmate Joe Sibley. The two gained prominence again in one of the earliest cases of file-sharing: The two defended Jammie Thomas-Rassett after record companies sued her in 2006 for downloading and sharing 24 songs on the platform Kazaa. Thomas-Rassett was, as one point, liable for $1.92 million in damages, which was eventually whittled down to $222,000 by 2013, seven years after the suit was first filed.

Camara’s former law partner now thinks he’ll be taking a break after his time leading CS Disco. “He just had so much on his plate with work that it was very difficult for him to find any leisure time,” Sibley told the Wall Street Journal. 

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