Craig Kleinman – Purple Innovation LLC
In the breadth of his legal career, Craig Kleinman has taken on a lot of roles in private, public and corporate practice.
He’s been a city prosecutor in Bluffdale and Midvale, Utah, cities just south of Salt Lake City. He’s practiced commercial litigation and corporate, municipal and real estate law in private practice. He has also helped a client buy a Park City, Utah, resort hotel and M&A with Gold’s Gym.
Since January 2017, Kleinman has helped lead legal affairs for Purple Innovation, LLC, which makes gel grid mattresses so innovative the company’s technology has earned seven patents, with several others pending.
Kleinman is now senior deputy general counsel for Purple. His day-to-day work includes tasks such as managing a legal team of 11 as well as outside counsel and drafting and negotiating commercial contracts and agreements. He’s also the company’s legal advocate for company litigation and working with legislators and agencies to protect the company’s interests.
It all adds up to an opportunity he didn’t need to sleep on when it was presented to him.
“I wanted to join Purple because it was a fast-growing startup with unique products that are amazing,” Kleinman says. “It’s easy to stand behind the company that has such incredible products.”
The color of sleep
Headquartered in Lehi, Utah, Purple was launched in January 2016 by brothers Tony and Terry Pearce. The Pearce brothers had been innovating gel grid technology for 20 years—they began their collaboration by developing cushioning to make shoes, medical devices and wheelchairs more comfortable.
In the early 2000s, the Pearce brothers began making mattresses used by hospital burn and intensive care units. The mattresses feature hyper-elastic polymer gel grids that instantly adjust as someone moves in bed to reduce pressure points on the body. Purple also sells pillows, sheets, seat cushions, duvets, mattress covers, adjustable bases and bed frames.
About a year after joining the company, Kleinman provided the legal support for Purple’s February 2018 merger with Global Partner Acquisition Corp, a special purpose acquisition company, or SPAC. The merger made Purple a publicly traded company with a $1.1 billion valuation without requiring it to go through the process of an initial public offering.
Further expansion came in September 2022, when Purple acquired Advanced Comfort Technologies Inc., also known as Intellibed. Intellibed had already licensed some of Purple’s technology.
No rest for copycats
Kleinman says protecting IP and thwarting copycat attempts and patent infringements requires a multifaceted approach that includes IP attorney James Larson as part of the legal team.
As Kleinman chatted with Vanguard in March, he and the company were awaiting results of an International Trade Commission investigation into the company’s complaint about trade practices a company in China was using to sell certain pillows and seat cushions.
Kleinman worked with Larson to gather evidence and determine how to proceed with the complaint. Purple is looking for the ITC to order Chinese companies to stop selling the items.
He also manages government relations, which includes working with all of Utah’s and Georgia’s delegation to Washington, D.C., as well as representatives in state governments, to ensure Purple isn’t adversely affected by emerging legislation and regulations. For instance, Kleinman says he and Purple are concerned by the costs of emerging state recycling regulations.
Recycling programs exist in California, Connecticut and Rhode Island and one is scheduled to start in Oregon in 2024. Recycling fees known as “a mattress stewardship assessment,” are or will be charged in those states when customers buy mattresses and box springs.
“We want to be sure mattress recycling is done in a business friendly way,” Kleinman says.
Loving market disruptions
Though Kleinman was born in the Golden State, he has lived and worked in the Beehive State since coming from California to Utah to attend Brigham Young University. While earning his bachelor’s degree in international relations, he also served a two-year mission in Uruguay and was an intern for U.S. Rep. Tom Lantos, D-California.
After graduating, Kleinman was a technical writer at SAIC, a government contractor. He then continued his BYU studies by enrolling in the university’s joint MBA and law degree program. He earned his MBA first, then his J.D. with his graduating law school class.
Along with his prosecutorial experience and work at law firms including Parry Anderson & Gardiner and Dorsey & Whitney, Kleinman was also assistant city attorney for Midvale City, Utah. He was a partner at Lewis & Kleinman LC before joining Purple.
Outside the office, Kleinman and his wife and three children enjoy skiing and travelling, including Christmas trips to Hawaii. They have also visited Paris, Rome and London and have made a couple of trips to South America.
Kleinman says he always envisioned an in-house role because he enjoys practicing corporate law and applying his MBA to help a business grow.
“I love my work here. We are innovators and market disruptors. We brought a new way of building mattresses to this space,” he says. “I have lots of things to do and I like that aspect of it. It’s been my favorite position in my career and I love the people I work with.”
View this feature in the Vanguard Summer I 2023 Edition here.
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