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Raymond Blijd

Capital & Conflict: Five Burning Questions That Defines Legal

Capital & Conflict: Five Burning Questions That Defines Legal 1920 810 Raymond Blijd
Read time: 5 min.

What is Legal Technology? Has it been successful? What are the top 5 Tools? How to make money and grow in Legal? Questions with answers.

This is not a “…I often get asked…” pretentious post to signal: hey people! I’m the expert! Let’s set the record straight: I’m not an expert, I refer to numbers as the expert. Being an ‘expert’ will automatically take away my right to be wrong. It robs me of the joy of serendipity. The pandemic showed us what happens when we rely on ‘experts’ without data: people die. So I decided, a long time ago, never to judge ideas. I, much rather discover them. Ultimately, the market decides who’s right or wrong, I’m just keeping score.

Our Best Answers

Despite the above, friends ask me to chime in on topics. I report the numbers to the best of my ability and limit my opinions to possible explanations. This year, we’ve been quoted 14 times by the largest news outlets in Legal. In 2021, it was just 3 times. This is not a sign of success, it just shows more are getting interested in numbers. Even so, the majority of questions come from conversations I have with enterprises, entrepreneurs, and educators.

Last week, I spoke with academics from Norway about the definition of legal technology. As I gave them my answer, I encouraged them to come up with their definition. That conversation inspired me to write this. Some say we find the meaning of life, not in the answers we seek, but in the questions, we ask. These are five burning questions with answers.

What is Legal Technology?

1. The first answer I ever found was on Quora. I searched, but couldn’t find the original post. So I’m summarizing this from memory: software used by lawyers to process legal data. Currently, this definition covers a declining set of tools. It doesn’t include software used by companies and citizens to process laws. Respectively, these are labeled by us as RiskTech and CivicTech. Now, ‘Legal Tech’ is mostly a marketing term used to win business from law firms and lure participants to conferences.

We use a more general definition of software supporting the law (not just lawyers) to qualify profiles for Legalpioneer. However, that definition covers just 31% of companies we have in Spark Max. Do more businesses impact the legal industry? Insurance, Biometrics, Security, Supply Chain, and FinTech come to mind. Of course, we also include data analytics companies that sway public opinion and find bots on Twitter.

Has Legal Technology been successful?

2. No, was my answer at the Amsterdam LawHub debate. While it may have been so in the past, wins have been few and far between in the last decade. Thomson Reuters, Lexis Nexis, and Wolters Kluwer rode a lucrative wave of legal publishing into the digital age. However, that growth was fueled by copyright law, not technological innovation. While the world embraced disruptions like the iPhone, Airbnb, Uber, and Spotify, lawyers continue to rake in record profits with a millennia-old model.

Checking the stock market today, the big three still top every new entrant like Legalzoom, DocuSign, and FiscalNote. Even the eDiscovery providers are all lower than their initial listing. There have been spectacular growth stories and big acquisitions of Legal Tech companies. But these were little miracles. Like a startup in The Netherlands called Legal Intelligence. Despite being born in the backyard of Wolters Kluwer, they grew to break their monopoly. Likewise, Dutch SignRequest and Clocktimizer can both claim better exits than counterparts in major markets with bigger budgets.

What are the top five Legal Technology companies?

3. Based on usage? We got this question from Law360 and our answer was a bit controversial. I came up with two lists: my favorites and tools with a large user base. Here are the top five based on adoption and usage to process legal data:

Adobe;

Turbo Tax;

DocuSign;

OneTrust;

Clio.

PDF tools are used by lawyers perhaps more than any other profession. Legal needs security and relies on continuity. In Gaslight, we highlighted these essential requirements for legal. In commerce, we use PDFs to lock up revenue in signed contracts. Wonder why Google may have dropped contracts analytics to bet on e-Signature? The same reason Apple launched their e-Signature tool, way back in 2017 WWDC. Yet, only after a smart question on our mention in Law.com, did it hit me where this is going. Keep reading, the reveal is below.

How does one make money in Legal?

4. The short answer is capital or conflict. Whenever there are big financial transactions or huge conflicts, legal talent will laugh all the way to the bank. It doesn’t matter where we are economically or politically in the world, these two conditions are always present. Did you click the link about the record profits big firms made in 2020? Don’t bother, we calculated revenue per employee for top Dutch law firms and came up with $18K a month [NL]. Just imagine: a starting salary as a janitor at a top firm could be plus $10,000,- a month. Just kidding.

Does technology help? Yes, the tech that closes the connectivity gap. The pager, email, and blackberry were all eagerly adopted by legal professionals. Research tools, which kept track of the competition, flew off the shelf. Tools that help professionals connect and be in constant communication with clients were instant hits. This could explain why many firms elect to build instead of buying legal tech. Noticed some firms partnering with outsiders? Essentially, they are looking to create a Robot Rainmaker: a tool that brings them closer to capital and conflicts.

How does one grow a business in Legal?

5. Like any other business, sustainable growth comes from identifying durable demand. For legal talent, the business from capital has fallen off a cliff. Companies struggle to raise money from public & private investors, banks, or other companies. The drop in deals occurred in initial public offerings (IPO), venture rounds, debt financing, mergers, and acquisitions. This leaves lawyers scrambling to find legal fees. Don’t panic, there’s still one space that’s delivering fat fees. So I’m very curious if the 2022 revenue numbers will top 2020-21.

Meanwhile, as the capital market collapses, we see conflicts everywhere. Case in point: Twitter is suing Elon Musk and claims damages. Correct, claims are the fourth catalyst for legal growth. So, don’t worry about legal talent, let’s worry about legal technology. We published a poll asking: If tech could help Elon or Twitter win. Most voted for talent, not tech to be the deciding factor. Why is it so hard for the tech, to succeed in Legal? Because, laws, made by lawyers, prevent it. This was our conclusion in our best-read analysis: copyright law boosted publishing, but it breaks automation. However, there is hope.

How can legal tech grow again?

By acknowledging why growth stopped. Most tech companies follow a familiar path: a founder gets frustrated with a problem and searches for a solution. They end up building one, convincing investors it is unique, and capturing curious early adopters. After the curiosity wears off and adopters churn, the dopamine and dollars run out.

Why did tech growth stop? Well, maybe you already picked up on two hints: “searches” and “unique”. Noted in ‘Challengers‘: most solutions aren’t unique because founders didn’t properly canvas the competition. Growth becomes difficult when customers have better or cheaper options. Growth becomes impossible when behaviors change and customers quit the product. The first is now happening to Netflix. The second is why some of you saw a Sony Walkman for the first time in Stranger Things. This is economics 101: supply and demand.

The Right Questions

One can forecast downfalls like Walkman or iPod, by measuring supply and demand using the CAT Method. Running calculations on close to $1.2 Trillion in deal data, Spark shows us where the action is. Following deal flow tells us that Biometrics will one day replace antiquated e-Signatures. However, history tells us that laws won’t allow it. Nevertheless, numbers reveal these spaces. That’s why we’ll keep taking snapshots and sending them back to earth.

So before you start running up that hill, check our two TikToks about markets and growth. The message: numbers will help you find new or different customers in bigger and better markets. Looking at current market conditions, entrepreneurs will have little choice, but to start asking the right questions.

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Funding Legal: Feast on Funds or Hunger Games?

Funding Legal: Feast on Funds or Hunger Games? 2048 1192 Raymond Blijd
Read time: 3 min.

Go FOF yourself is the advice we got from Sequoia Capital, which means go find funds. Yes, there are plenty of funds, but where?

The Sequoia Capital story appeared in Fortune, which is behind a paywall. We won’t bother to offer a link. We find it ironic that you need money to access a story about saving money. Since we liked the tagline, we used Google to find the PDF. These stories all tell a familiar tale of The Hunger Games, which is either you earn or you burn. It feels like the Sequoia graphic below encourages us to burn as opposed to earn. Stick around for the end, we’ll share a radical concept.

Hunger Games

Times are tough and most companies working on dreams are in for a rude awakening. We posted OneTrust laying off 950. Law360 reported Notarize cutting a quarter of its staff. Both are extremely well-capitalized companies that have raised $1.14 billion in total…yes, a billion. Yet, there were signs of distress. OneTrust latest round was a “bridge” round of $6.4 million, which was nowhere near the previous $210 million round. Notarize last round was undisclosed.

Bridge rounds will become a reality for most. AirSlate raised a hefty $51 Million at a $1.25 billion unicorn valuation. Yet, their previous round was $50 million. So while round sizes are still big, they seem to be hitting a ceiling. Does this mean that the well of infinite capital is drying up? Actually, the opposite. Never before have founders had so much choice in financing options and instruments. And these aren’t just in the States.

Feast on Funds

Last Friday’s dope drop revealed the number of new venture funds in 2022 was 139. Well, by Tuesday, that number jumped to 153 funds announced. These funds focus on areas ranging from a founder’s background, a company’s stage, or its impact on our lives. They aim to support people and products through various stages of their lifecycle. If you are an early stage / no revenue founder, there is $2.9 billion sitting on the shelf awaiting your submission. If you have a bit of revenue, there is access to $11.1 billion. Ready to retire? There is $5.3 billion in private equity looking to buy you out. Remember, this is real money pledged in the last 6 months.

If all else fails, sprinkle in some blockchain and get a slice of $9.5 billion. No kidding, despite the crypto meltdown, it is the single biggest area of focus for the new VC funds. While it has dropped slightly over recent weeks, the average size of a crypto company’s first round is $8.3 million. Kidding aside, The beauty of this abundance shows us the hunt for unicorns is still on. However, if you want to be hunted, you have to come out of hiding.

Capital from Customers

Raising capital from investors can never be an end goal. Companies are rediscovering the lost art of raising cash from customers. This radical practice is known as generating revenue. Btw, this also opens up the option for Revenue-Based Financing. Google it, and you’ll discover many fellow startups offering this financing instrument. Speaking of fellow startups, I’m happy to report that three of our customers have recently informed us of revenue growth. One is on the verge of becoming profitable. What do they have in common? They are in the business of helping companies reach customers. And the way to reach customers is by coming out in the open.

Along with our customers mentioned above, we also noticed this growth. We added 168 new profiles to Legalpioneer.org in two weeks. This is about 12 companies every day. Why the sudden surge? Companies need customers, so they are boosting their sales and marketing. The recently added weren’t all newly founded companies, but mostly dormant ones. Usually, these companies thrived on a few loyal, happy customers to grow via word of mouth. Perhaps now, the economy is shutting those customers up.

Epilogue

A founder’s reality is that a new product takes time for the market to adopt. Some ideas take longer than others to become sustainable. It takes crazy, slightly obsessive people from all backgrounds to keep going when the world tells them to stop. You can’t keep going if you and your loved ones go hungry or homeless. So we require money to eat, build, sleep. If more do this, it increases our chances to change the world, create jobs and a few bank accounts.

So where are those funds? They are now part of Spark Mini at, ironically, no extra charge.

Geo: Gauge Growth for Legal Tech Globally for Free

Geo: Gauge Growth for Legal Tech Globally for Free 1988 960 Raymond Blijd
Read time: 3 min.

What number would indicate growth for the legal industry? Well, there are several ways to measure this, but we’ll boil it down to one.

First, some unfounded fear is making the rounds about a recession. Relax, every crisis brings new opportunities. Legal services are usually required by law and therefore recession-proof. Legal technology, aimed at lawyers, is mostly a luxury. They may have a real fight on their hands. To survive, here are some tips:

  1. Lower your burn and pricing, it’s your superpower;
  2. It’s a great time to restructure your debt;
  3. Make friends with your customers;

These are the updates to our Recession guide. Now, if you came here to thrive, you are in for a treat. Especially now, new ways are opening up to grow. How do you track them? Keep reading.

Trends & Traction

What trackers? Economists watch one metric to measure the economy, they watch jobs. More precisely, the number of jobless claims every week. Adding jobs is a significant sign of growth. Another way to follow growth is by checking stock prices for industry-leading companies. Specifically, check the percentage of a stock price increase or decrease over a six-month period. Also mentioned more often are reports of earning misses, profit warnings, hiring freezes, and layoffs. A new dashboard destination is layoffs.fyi, they track layoffs in the tech sector.

Why track these? Tracking helps to see where to focus energy in terms of business development. You may like to know which customers will grow and the ones that won’t take your calls. It helps us identify which areas are about to pop or drop. Example: during lockdowns, travel drops and tech pops. Cruise ship stocks fell hard, while Zoom meetings made record gains. After lockdown, these trends seem to reverse. If you were investing in Crypto and NFTs, you’ll know exactly how this feels.

Will this last? No one can predict the future. Speculating drops and pops, one can only plot data from the past and imagine the next dot. The pandemic was a pressure cooker that was stewing data on customer behaviors. This provided us with an important lesson on the difference between discovering trends and finding traction. We reported on legal trends like claims and estate. Checking these areas now, we see slowdowns or a return to pre-pandemic levels. In short, trends are a sign of growth and traction lets us know if trends are sustainable.

Capital & Conflict

What grows Legal? Companies and citizens buy legal services to operate within the economy. They buy contracts from lawyers to onboard employees, secure loans, and complete deals. They hire a counselor when these events don’t work out and there is a conflict. Contracts secure cash and courts resolve conflicts. Ultimately, regulating relationships is why we need legal. This need drives demand for different types of legal services and technology.

What grows Legal Tech? Law.com did an excellent analysis of May earnings reports for some public legal tech companies. Most legal stocks bounced back slightly after the reports. Yet, the public companies only cover a few areas of legal technology. The majority of trends we can track come from private investments. Where venture investors allocate capital show a trend and a glimpse of traction.

Where is traction? Contrary to popular belief, we can not directly correlate major investments with traction. Tiger Global and Softbank poured huge sums into startups and now respectively lost $17 Billion and $27 Billion. To understand how this happened, check E80 and E81 of the All-In podcast. If you can’t spare two hours, then just jump to minute 21:10 of E81 on YouTube and listen for two minutes. Now we made a layout of the land in two charts: one on legal and one in general. Each explains why the public rewarded legal for its stability and private investors gave more capital to fewer players.

Growth & Geo

What’s the one metric? For now, we’re using the total raised per area as a measurement for growth. To illustrate, we developed a special interactive board called Spark Map. You’ll see the top 3 companies in over 130 countries for the first time ever. And it’s free. Since the US is so huge, we made a special USA version with a state-level ranking. We hope it sparks debate on how and what to measure. As noted above, more money doesn’t always matter. Measuring something as elusive as market growth perhaps needs more nuance.

What’s the better metric? We’re adding growth in full-time employees (FTE) in Spark Max. This will be a version of jobless claims for legal tech. Can we measure all employees exactly? Yes, we can, and we do, however it may actually be imprecise. Kinda like counting every raindrop across an entire landmass. You can better measure this by the square inch. The key is to measure each downpour and compare them.

Wait, there is more! Legal is a niche, so may not get mentioned on layoff.fyi. That’s why legal deserves its own lay-off tracker to keep tabs and alert our customers. As noted in our legal tech unicorn analysis on Law.com, we’re checking burn and growth of every profile. We’re watching you. Now, go grow!

Editor’s note: This update completes stage 3 of 5 on Legalcomplex.com, and I hope you’ll enjoy the many…many tweaks we made to the site.

Screen: Legal Tech To Safe Children from Gun Violence

Screen: Legal Tech To Safe Children from Gun Violence 2396 936 Raymond Blijd
Read time: 2 min.

There is so much going on. But none of it matters if we lose sight of securing the safety of the most vulnerable: our children.

Lately, Legalcomplex had some successes that we would love to share. It doesn’t matter because our mission is to help all legal technology succeed to create a safer society for everyone. This includes making our world safe for children. We refrain from addressing social justice issues. We did not analyze Ukraine, George Floyd, or any of the many ESG challenges. However, we do make one exception: children. Our first was LawKit: a legal framework to unlock smartphones inspired by Amber Alert. The second was Privacee: a video format to help children understand privacy in this complicated digital world.

Assault

This third analysis pales in comparison to the heartbreak of children mass shooting children. Maybe some see mass shootings as a typical American problem, but it also happened in Alphen aan den Rijn in 2011. I worked in Alphen at the time this happened, and it shocked us all. The parallels are that both incidents involve young people with known mental health issues legally acquiring assault rifles.

This brings us to what we can do to prevent gun violence. Obviously, this is a complicated matter without any easy fixes. One of these fixes is background screening. Here’s a quick reminder of our current reality: we’re actively screened on every aspect of our lives to determine purchase intent. Any action is tracked with or without consent through smart devices. This data is utilized for commercial purposes since that is the most lucrative business model. The question: is there a business model to save children from gun violence?

Analysis

This is a very insensitive formulation of the problem, yet it illustrates the solution. Legalcomplex also captures FinTech and SmartTech companies along with LegalTech, RiskTech, and CivicTech. This provides a broader perspective on how technology impacts the law. While tracking and tagging investments across these spaces, we noticed something. The companies that build SmartTech to process data are third overall in total capital raised. After Payments and Credit technology, processing data is the most lucrative problem to solve.

In a weird way, the answer is Yes, there is a model, albeit morbid. If the majority of data processing is to find customers with purchase intent. Let’s agree that it does not help if the purchase intent is to kill. We want more customers, not less. This natural progression for sustainability is what drives industries like electric vehicles and ESG. One of the 21 examples, linked in the Spark Max pdf, is screening your Tinder date. Just Like Uber and Airbnb quickly realized, it hurts business if a service is not safe for customers. That’s why both deploy screening tech.

Arrest

Let’s reiterate this point: this is not an easy fix. So far, financial security drives most successful legal technology advances. However, most data analytics solutions aim to save the economy, not society. They were built to protect companies, not citizens. Worse, when the government does the screening, the results can be pure evil. Clearview AI is a facial recognition company that sells mostly to law enforcement, as seen in the AI documentary. On May 23, 2022, the UK government fined them almost $10 Million for privacy violations.

On May 30 of 2022, the Dutch government acknowledge it is institutionally racist. Since 2001, the Dutch IRS used racial profiling technology to find fraud. What may surprise outsiders is there will be no civil or criminal prosecution, since everyone operated according to the law and was backed by the courts. Ironically, this tragedy is known as the ‘Childcare Benefits Scandal’.

Our lesson is that legal tech can be unconstitutional, even if it’s based on legitimate legislation. Our message is that legal data analytics is designed to take care of our cash, not of our kids. Our hope is that we built better screening tech to protect our future, which are our children.

Funding Legal 2022 Q1: China, Copyright & Carbon

Funding Legal 2022 Q1: China, Copyright & Carbon 1860 605 Raymond Blijd
Read time: 3 min.

This is about China, Copyright, Carbon, and a new post-credit. This is the State of Legal Venture Funding for the first quarter of 2022.

China

Let’s jump right in: $1.78 Billion was raised between January 1 and March 31 this year by legal ventures. This is 10.6% less capital than 2021. The global pullback of risk capital from private companies is hitting the legal industry. Weirdly enough, we found more rounds completed and investors participating in this quarter compared to last year. We found 108 deals and 337 investors participating. So we got more checks from more investors, but those checks got a litter smaller this year. Why?

In our ESG analysis, we noted the $300 Million round by PatSnap and $138 Million by Fadada in early 2021. To understand Asia, we did a mini analysis on Softbank and China with investors like Tencent. Especially, Tencent went quiet this quarter in legal. Some say the slowdown is caused by China’s crackdown on tech and trade tensions with the west.

We got a ping from a LinkedIn follower to join this particular take on China. Measuring venture funding in Asia versus Europe and North America, this graph shows an equal percentage increase for each region. On the surface, it seems there was no impact on venture funding. Yet on closer inspection, we discovered that India is picking up the slack in Asia. That’s how Bengaluru emerged as the mini Silicon Valley of Legal Tech in our Law.com interview.

Copyright

Now venture capitalists are feeling less venturous. Yet, they still need to find opportunities, so where do they go? To see opportunities, one has to recalibrate our vision of growth. The NFT and Web3 are still generating ridiculous graphs on Spark Max. However, this announcement gripped us: Microsoft bought Activision for $68.7 Billion. It’s the single biggest acquisition in gaming and it cleared all anti-trust hurdles without a hitch. Huh, how?

The acquisition made every analyst play games and every attorney dream about those deal fees. Remember: lawyers have superpowers and some more than others. Copyright lawyers, like me, watching the new Halo TV series were thinking: Ooh this is the new Marvel Universe. They will be printing money in perpetuity. If you like to know what this word means in a copyright contract, ask Dave Chappelle.

If you like to really know what this deal means, pass the controller and pay attention. Noticed how iPhones got cheaper and their designs went backwards? It’s because all the attention is going somewhere else. Attention is going towards getting your attention. That is the most valuable asset and it is called Copyright.

Carbon

Now, if lawyers aren’t calculating their cut on deals, they are litigating the conflicts between people. Usually, those conflicts arise when change collides with the need for things to remain the same. It is about the future we want versus the future we are going to get. That future is largely determined by our environment. While our environment consists of many chemicals, it is largely dominated by one: CO2.

Regulating and accounting for carbon across supply chains is generating even crazier charts on Spark. Supply Chain capture $2.60 Billion this quarter, which is a whopping 669% more than last year.

Up until this point, we only mentioned numbers from segment Legal. The supply chain and accounting numbers come from the segment Governance, Risk and Compliance (GRC). A single area within segment GRC managed to be bigger than the entire Legal segment and all its areas including Contracts.

That’s not all: accounting for carbon accumulated $172 Million of funding. This total set the radical record in GRC of a 933% increase over 2021.

Carbon

Cred

You made it this deep, here’s your post-credit. Remember, we joked about analysts playing games? Well, we got slapped by this data. Most new NFT rounds aren’t about music, art, or virtual real estate. They are about games that render high scores as non-fungible tokens. Finally, you can say: Mom, I’m not just gaming, I’m minting NFTs, so gimmie the controller.

There is more: the average seed round for NFT games is $5.6 Million. The very first check these companies receive producing a website and nothing else is five million-plus in cash. That will give anyone street cred on Twitch.

  • Wonder how much your idea or company is valued? Spark Mini gives you the best answer;
  • Why didn’t you talk about LinkSquares and LawVu? That is Q2;
  • Will you discuss mergers and acquisitions? Yes;
  • When are we getting Funding Legal Q2? Leave your email in the footer below to subscribe for updates, and you get the analysis first;
  • Can’t wait? Ping me on LinkedIn.

Shelter Ukraine 🇺🇦

SuperPower: Pricing & Packaging Any Legal Software

SuperPower: Pricing & Packaging Any Legal Software 1552 849 Raymond Blijd
Read time: 3 min.

Investment experts predict that companies with pricing power will thrive in this economy. And power is not just about raising prices.

TLDR: the venture funding festival looks like it’s grinding to a halt, so companies have to raise funds with customers. We have two tips on pricing and packaging. And stick around for a twist at the end.

Sticker Shock

Let’s talk about the most elusive element in legal: pricing. Overall, it’s very taboo to talk about how much you make. We know you’ll get sued if you reveal the rates lawyers charge on Yelp. We wonder if this is different for software targeting the legal industry. Since we’re getting a new legal technology directory almost every week, we started tracking to see if any of them had published prices of providers. We regret to inform you that the majority of directories can’t list pricing publicly. If the software is suitable for consumers or solo’s, we do get to see what it sells for. But if providers target companies or law firms, the curtain comes down. This has to do with unit economics.

The impact of unit economics on legal was the subject of Starting In Legal Tech. It illustrated the dynamics driving legal services. Usually, software providers in legal can only target large enterprises for it to make economic sense. For example, most services around contracts work best if there is significant volume. On the other end: if the provider relies on value, then targeting law firms makes sense. The perception of lawyers is that they can pull in very large sums in a single deal. Curious why we perceive this? See slides 15-16 of Term Sheet Demystified by Mountside Ventures or the final slide of ‘Starting In Legal Tech’.

The above effectively eliminates the small or mid-size business segment in the legal market. Especially when it comes to selling to lawyers. Better yet, boutique firms can make more money than even the biggest law firms. Therefore, no one gets to buy at bargain prices. This also accounts for the many directories ‘helping’ to sell to lawyers, or the lavish amounts of capital allocated to legal tech. Why many won’t reveal the costs of software that supports a legal process? If the value of that process isn’t predictable, then the pricing of software will remain flexible. This brings us full circle to the rates lawyers charge.

Pricing Plunge

Did you catch the Easter egg in the Legalcomplex Original? Funding in legal dropped 14% this year-to-date compared to last year. Crunchbase also wrote about the end of good times in venture capital. While the US outlets mostly report US numbers, CB also noted a drop in EU funding announcements. Both are recommended reads, but the first story has one particularly gripping quote:

“There are two types of companies that need to be careful: ones that are all tech and no revenue, or all revenue but no tech,”

This looks eerily similar to the current legal landscape i.e. legal tech and law firms. The former may be struggling because the latter doesn’t use it. Just to be clear, we aren’t cheering this on, and we’re happy reading the high-profile wins and partnerships. Boosted by the pandemic, the legal industry enjoyed an accelerated adoption of tech and growth. However, the recent drop in the value of so-called pandemic stocks was triggered by churn. Just like employees quit their jobs during the pandemic, customers are quitting products after the pandemic. This started happening before Russia entered Ukraine. As a matter of fact, we can trace this back to a specific date: December 3, 2021.

On that day, DocuSign shares plunged 43% triggering multiple class actions suits. The DocuSign story isn’t unique to the tech industry. Actually, it is part of a much larger wave that has been crashing on the economy. It’s why we noted Netflix raising prices as one of the surreal signals back in January. If companies can’t raise cash from capitalists, they will turn to customers. This brings us to our message: businesses will be forced to either raise prices and/or offer cheaper options. Yup, all businesses including legal.

Wrap Wisely

Raising prices has been the go-to for legal services since the beginning of time. Legal professionals have legislated a legal monopoly, so they can set and raise prices unabated. Only the legal software providers that are essential will enjoy that luxury. Yet when big deals start disappearing and clients drown in debt, we might want to consider an alternative. The Recession guide has three practical tips to stabilize your business. Here are two more: pricing transparency and better packaging. We practice what we preach, so we’ll go first: here are the prices of two new services we’ll release globally (ex. VAT):

  • €33,- is a monthly subscription for the legal tech enthusiast;
  • €330,- is a single transaction for the legal tech entrepreneur.

The release dates are flexible, but the prices will remain fixed. Just like Ikea, we are designing our services to deliver as much value as possible at those price points. Not only the delivery but our entire supply chain including our operational expense structure is designed around a price scale. That’s why we can pack products with unique data that go deeper than we have ever gone before. What kind of unique metrics? Here’s a new one in the video below.

Now, since you stuck around for the end credits, here’s the twist we promised: March 18, 2022, DocuSign stock jumped 7% and may have reversed its steady decline from December 2021. Why did DocuSign Stock pop?

Shelter Ukraine 🇺🇦

Web3: Will Lawyers Build or Break our Metaverse?

Web3: Will Lawyers Build or Break our Metaverse? 900 525 Raymond Blijd
Read time: 3 min.

Web3 is the shift from platforms to protocols. More importantly, it is our only path to digital privacy…but only if lawyers get involved.

Web3 is the single biggest topic we ever attempted to tackle. Let’s chop it up into the three essential parts: payment, privacy, and power.

Protocols

Problem: there is no trust built into our current web infrastructure. We have to trust a few platforms to handle the transmission of critical personal information. Google handles our searches, Facebook our conversations, Amazon and Alibaba our purchases.

Solve: introduce trust using transparent transmission via blockchain-inspired protocols. Web3 handles sensitive transactions, like payments, with decentralized protocols rather than a central platform owned by one company.

If you like to visualize what Web3 is, check our NFT analysis. NFTs are like Polaroids and NFT marketplaces, like OpenSea, are shopping malls. Now zoom all the way out and imagine terraforming Mars to have it become our new Earth. That is Web3: using ledger tech to rebuild the pipes that transmit our data over the web. Whoever lays down the plumbing first, gets to figure out the business model. So when the first images of Bored Humans on Mars hit the web, we’ll be scrambling to get tickets. Why? This new network offers us something we currently do not have: privacy.

Privacy

We all know privacy is important, but not many can articulate why. In one word, privacy means freedom. You can only be free if you make decisions without influence or pressure from others. Our likes, searches, conversations, and purchases define who we are. Subconsciously, we are herded into shopping for something we don’t need or, worse, electing a leader we don’t want. Currently, no single authority has demonstrated handling this power fairly. Remember when all iOS users got U2 songs on their phones? Absolute power corrupts absolutely. If we want our privacy back, we need to distribute our data.

Technology that distributes data among peers has been around for a while. BitTorrent, and its precursors, allowed us to exchange large files over a shared bandwidth. Blockchain took this a step further by outright minting money. These networks had one thing in common: once it got going, it was impossible to stop. There wasn’t a central authority to pull the plug, and the participants enjoyed a little anonymity. Yes, bad actors did abuse these systems. Only because there was no law enforcement or any social constraints. However, constraints and enforcement are just social contracts that we can build into the protocols. How would that work? Here’s a design called LawKit: a framework to distribute authority in a virtual universe.

Power

This brings us to our final point: power. Facebook had to drop their Libra project: a Facebook digital currency. Subsequently, Meta lost $251 billion, the biggest wipeout in the history of the stock market. All in their attempt to build a single platform. In contrast, Apple is worth trillions because they offer end-to-end secure transmissions with biometrics stored on your device. That’s why they are ‘rushing’ Apple Pay to merchants. Meanwhile, over at the Winter Olympics, you can now pay with e-CNY, china’s digital currency.

Web3 requires massive investments, and the west will exclusively fund this through the private sector. Check the image above: three Meta projects collectively raised almost a billion in just a single week. It’s so chaotic that even tech titans are throwing punches at each other in public. Did you miss it? Here’s what happened between Marc Andreessen, Jack Dorsey, and Elon Musk.

There’s a lot to unpack so let’s line this up: Marc invented the first web browser and runs a16z, the most successful VC fund in startup history. Elon invented online payment with PayPal and now has launched so many Starlink satellites, they’re blocking telescopes. Jack quit his invention ‘Twitter’ to run point-of-sale payment processor Square. Now Marc is able to out-invest Jack in Web3. Elon is trolling both by pushing Dogecoin as the default currency on the web. Poor Jack launched a legal defense fund to keep lawyers at bay.

So what do legal and lawyers have to do with Web3? Besides frivolous claims, each fundraiser is good business for more than a few lawyers. However, that is not why we need them. We need legal professionals to build constraints into the protocols. And please no legislation, please! It doesn’t work, and will only make it much worse. Everyone is suffering every single time we have to click a cookie pop-up away. Laws need to be code, like a smart contract. And we need legal engineers to come in and write those contracts. Not Marc, not Jack, certainly not Elon, and under no circumstance, Meta.

State of Legal Venture Funding 2021

State of Legal Venture Funding 2021 1857 433 Raymond Blijd
Read time: 2 min.

State of Legal Venture Funding 2021 is a summary of 340+ venture rounds, capturing a total of $6.5 Billion. Are big checks, big business?

The 340+ venture rounds are roughly the same as 2020 and is the only number that remained flat. Most other metrics went up. According to CB Insights, the total $612 Billion of venture funding set a record with a 111% increase over 2020. By comparison: Legal managed to raise 166% more capital than 2020. This means that companies impacting the legal industry got a little more love than the rest.

So checks are getting bigger, but did Legal Tech do better? Well kinda, but there is a catch. There are several factors at play. First, the median round size for mature companies increased by 175%*. This means later stage companies have been getting almost triple. Yet, the number of deals was nearly identical to the previous year. This happens in a saturated market when investors are padding companies to protect their portfolio.

Did big checks only follow big business, or did startups also get a cut? Actually, startups were the biggest beneficiaries of the overall boom in funding. Not only did more legal tech startups raise seed funding, but their round size got a massive 548% bump*. Early fundraising was up almost everywhere, and some gave more than others. In an attempt to reclaim the crown, Y Combinator raised their $125K offer to $375K per startup. This means good startups can comfortably shop for the best local or global VCs.

Just be careful approaching current investors to your competitors. They may have a conflict of interest with their portfolio companies. Remember: when they are eager to take your call, they aren’t obliged to keep your secrets. The ideal investor may be one that hasn’t yet invested in your area and fears missing out. This brings us to the factors.

Here are three stats to shed light on our surreal economy. First, The Netherlands Bureau of Statistics reported the lowest number of bankruptcies in 2021 since 1990. Second, DocSend reported that time spent on pitch decks dipped below 3 minutes. As VCs scramble to quickly allocate capital to companies, that number keeps dropping in 2022. Finally, Netflix is raising prices.

Point: stimulus and venture funding are keeping large parts of the economy afloat while overall demand is slowing. How does this impact Legal? Well, oddly enough, positively. But here’s the catch, and it’s determined by what we consider to be “Legal Tech”.

Strictly speaking, there were two main drivers for most of the activity in 2021: analytics & automation. Contracts kept grabbing headlines, yet the valuable part of a contract isn’t legal but finance. Deals are based on the value of assets. The value of assets is calculated from analytics on various financial documents. One can speed that process up with automation. The tech supporting these processes operates within companies separate from lawyers. Therefore, we classify most of these businesses as a subclass of Legal called Risk Tech.

The irony is that deals and the inevitable claims always involve lawyers in some capacity. Therefore, law firms profited from a record amount of good and bad deals in 2021. While Legal Tech is racing to raise capital on public and private markets with help from lawyers, the question remains: do lawyers need to use any of it themselves?

If the above raises questions or blood pressure, reach out to me via LinkedIn or schedule a chat.

*Percentages in the images are median of both Seed and Series funding

Our Job As Entrepreneurs? Figure Out Zero Tax Just Like Jeff

Our Job As Entrepreneurs? Figure Out Zero Tax Just Like Jeff 2560 910 Raymond Blijd
Read time: 2 min.

Entrepreneurs need to tackle three things to be successful: lure customers to a great product with a competitive price at zero tax.

Zero

A country provides us with safe living conditions, crucial infrastructure, and services to do business. A government allows us to operate in peace. For this privilege, we pay taxes. By adding jobs aka taxpayers to the economy, entrepreneurs get a break and leverage to negotiate better rates.

When I set out on this journey, I took the time to take a course on taxes. Following my first credo:

love the things you hate because they allow you to do what you love.

The other reason to learn more about taxes is that I heard Jeff Bezos – one of the world’s richest – did not pay taxes. Operating a borderless e-commerce platform at a loss automatically helps you evade local taxes. Nevertheless, this drove 137 countries to agree on a once-in-a-century global tax treaty to close just this single loophole faster than you can say: climate change.

Two things I learn during the tax course which really surprised me: all entrepreneurs made tax mistakes because they copy each other. Second, those mistakes usually originate from accountants doing the same copying from other accountants. Perhaps you wonder why mistakes perpetuate? Not getting caught doesn’t mean it’s legal, it’s just a lack of enforcement. Huh, why? Enforcement is a political nuclear bomb too explosive for me to handle.

Hero

Mistakes can be as simple as a correct invoice, or as complex as knowing the various rules and rates in each country. Especially the lather is a game of cat and mouse where the cat is any country and the mouse is any digital product. Ever wondered why many crypto companies reside in George Town. Or corporations in the USA all seemingly come from Delaware. Care for some Double Irish with a Dutch sandwich? Yes please, I’d love one with my Panama Papers.

An honest tax lawyer will say it’s complicated because every country wants its own taxes and has no authority over others. The only way to simplify rates is if all countries agree to them. Now grab the popcorn because this movie is about to have an unpredictable ending. Meanwhile, if you have a great digital product, your job is to sell to customers everywhere at the most competitive price. That price should include a fair tax rate, which can be zero. Why? Because we can use all the help to compete in a borderless market.

A good tax lawyer understands this and will help you figure that out. A smart government will support this because…just like Jeff, we could each deliver almost a million taxpayers within a year.

Any economist knows that this is the only way to stave off inflation and our ticket out of this recession.

Anyone, help?

2021: What’s the Score & Are We getting More?

2021: What’s the Score & Are We getting More? 1575 1009 Raymond Blijd
Read time: 2 min.

We don’t copy news or drop names, our focus is on the numbers

credo

We made this statement at our only appearance at a conference this year. While it’s important to note new events, it helps to color them in context. Later below, there’s an example of why it helps. Now, here are the numbers we tracked, the struggles to get them, and finally, what’s next.

For the first time, not only do we have the totals but also the trends:

  • $41.17 Billion in Venture Funding was up 175%;
  • $26.36 Billion in Mergers & Acquisitions was down -6.9%;
  • 3045 Investors was up 76%.

Ok, so what companies do the numbers above represent? They represent mostly technology companies, that support the law. Legal Tech is what lawyers use, Risk Tech (GRC) helps companies avoid legal issues, and Civic Tech does this for citizens. Each industry has unique economics: CivicTech is largely led by government and politics. RiskTech is driven by finance and economics. LegalTech straddles both worlds. If you like to draw inspiration from examples, check our sister site Legalpioneer.org.

RiskTech every day, keeps Lawyers away

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The funding data is still pouring in, so next year we’ll have actual totals and trends. We did an exclusive on M&A for our friends at Legal IT Professional. Here we’ll take a look at investors. Why? This year we registered a seismic shift in the investors landscape. For years, Y Combinator dominated the landscape in the spaces we track. This year they lost the crown to Tiger Global. Moreover, the analysis on Softbank was to rectify an erroneous report, doing the rounds, about their first legal tech investment. Softbank is busy ramping up in key areas and locations, but many just weren’t paying attention to Asia.

Yet, the key metric we are tracking is how much money startups get and therefore, how much they need to compete. The median investment companies received is $3.5 million, up almost 17% this year. This metric takes both growth and seed-stage investments in total. However, the numbers differ wildly depending on location, stage, and investor. Last week, we wowed a Swedish copyright tech startup exploring growth with our new Investor dashboard.

Spark Max – Investors

Did we wow everyone? I wish. The most popular post on LinkedIn was my mom receiving a medal from the President of Suriname. Business-wise, launching Spark with our Jus Mundi testimonial, and signing our first Dutch customer with 900+ employees were highlights. Legalcomplex received a bit of love from the locals, and it means the world to me. Nevertheless, we stay focused on getting the data to power your dreams. Here’s what we did thus far:

We did collect 2021 legal tech promo video award winners, so check them. Below are the insights we discovered during 2021:

In closing, we like to thank a few:

We’re ramping up for 2022 and our next move:

Shut-up and Ship.

credo
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