funding

Investor Escape
Investor Landscape of the Legal Industry [Infographic]
Investor Landscape of the Legal Industry [Infographic] 1024 529 Raymond Blijd

In 2018, we found 1941 individuals and organizations as an investor in companies impacting legal. Who is funding the legal industry? And Why now?

The Investor

If you kept an eye on the legal industry this year, you may have noticed something brewing. It started with an ICO craze we detailed in February and resulted in some outrageous announcements. Such as, Block.one raising $4 billion and then getting something extra from Peter Thiel, the billionaire founder of Legal Tech company Palantir. Fun fact: Peter is the most cited figure in articles on this blog.

But things really got weird in June and prompted this: First Half of 2018 Legal Tech Raised $1.2 Billion in Cash. Stories began to appear that revealed stars like Mark Cuban and Kobe Bryant also dabbling in Legal Tech. Steve Balmer, the former CEO of Microsoft, is a charitable CivicTech investor who poured $59 million more into the sector this year. Atrium LTS had 95 investors for a record-setting first round in 2017 and doubled down with two more rounds this year to close at $75.5 million. To put this into context, the average number of investors in the legal industry is almost 6 per company. And it wasn’t just Legal Tech companies, RiskTech also got some love like Assent Compliance getting $100 million.

To keep pace, there is a new chart up on Legal Startups Charts with amounts raised each month. However, after absorbing these shocking numbers, I had more questions about the wave of cash and coin injected into this niche.

Why Now

I suspect a combination of several factors that make this year different. First, I came across a good tip a while back:

One of the most reliable startup investing strategies is looking at where people spend a ton of money but hate the experience.

If we view the legal industry through this lens I would imagine money to be flooding the sector every year. Our estimate of total funding raised in 2017 was around $385 million. But here’s what happened: this year kicked off with 34 fundraising rounds in January with a total of $123 million. That is about a third of the entire previous year and we’re talking about a single month. In hindsight, January actually was the slowest month so it may have set off another famous investment credo called FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out).

In April we had another trigger with the successful  IPO by DocuSign, the first pure Legal Tech exit to the stock market I have witnessed. They also acquire SpringCM for $202 million and move deeper into the corporate legal workflow. Then LegalZoom dropped a $500 million round in July as a sign of a strong consumer legal market. This could have been the catalyst for another monster month in September with a total of $796 million.

Questions?

It took four months and two new datasets to answer some of these questions. Like how many received seed capital (109) and which investors (e. g. Goldman Sachs) don’t mind betting on experimental ventures. And which sector got more early investment? To my surprise, it’s a dead heat between RiskTech and LegalTech (47 each) and we still have a couple of good weeks left in this year.

There also is a new ‘Data’ page which explains the general approach to our datasets. And if you were wondering why I abandoned our black & red scheme for this infographic, it’s because I was inspired by the real exit investors are looking for.

Do you have questions? Just reach out to me on @Legalcomplex, Linkedin or email: Raymond[at]legalcomplex.com.

Enjoy!

Investor Landscape

First Half of 2018 Legal Tech Raised $1.2 Billion in Cash
First Half of 2018 Legal Tech Raised $1.2 Billion in Cash 1024 417 Raymond Blijd

[update: October 24, 2018

Added the line graph from the LegalTech Funding Landscape infographic to LegalTech Charts.

The line chart above only displays funding in Legal Tech and Law. The LegalZoom round (August update below) inflated the law category and ballooned July. See the more bubbles in Law with the “Others” interactive chart. The below categories are present in the infographic line graph (pdf).

Two FinTech companies impacting legal are payment providers primarily focused on protecting customer privacy. Their core feature is to process payments anonymously in cryptocurrency or regular payments transactions.

[update: September 5, 2018

Kira systems just pushed us passed $3 Billion in funding for 2018..yup, it’s the new normal.

Download: LP-LT Funding 2018-v9.pdf

Download: LP-LT Funding 2018-v9.pdf

[update: August 9, 2018

LegalZoom raised $500 Million and DocuSign acquired SpringCM for a reported $202 million. While the SpringCM acquisition is not the same as raising venture capital, it does express a vote of confidence in a turbulent market. Therefore, July just bumped June as the richest month Legal Tech has ever seen.

But wait..there is more. This month also saw the announcement of Block.one receiving funding from Peter Thiel, after it raised $4 billion (!) with an initial coin offering back in February.

So we had to update the initial infographic to include the elephants.

[orginal post]

In the first half of 2018 Legal Tech raised $1.2 billion in cash. If that isn’t crazy enough, we are ignoring a possible $3.7 billion raised with initial coin offerings (ICO). We previously discussed those blockchain startups impacting legal but we didn’t talk about the elephant.

What’s more amazing is that we are only half-way 2018 but surpassed the amount raised in all of the past 3 years combined. Bear in mind, @Legalpioneer also registered 6 undisclosed rounds by private companies this year and we aren’t perfect so we could have missed others.

Year Total rounds raised
2017 $385 million
2016 $280 million
2015 $366 million
Total  $1.03 billion

A little nuance: some of the larger rounds were debt financing which is a bit odd but not unusual. The other concern is that seed financing in 2018 is trending downwards compared to previous years. It seems Venture Capital (VC) is more attracted to mature Legal Tech.

Year # startups receiving seed or angel funding # startups receiving later stage funding
2018 10 25
2017 28 48
2016 39 40
2015 23 31
2014 27 13

The Elephant

Also note: RiskTech startups grew not only in numbers mainly nudge by GDPR, their funding generally did as well.  Check out the huge rounds by privacy apps Signal and Orchid lab. Both dwarfed by the elephant called Telegram which raised a ridiculous ICO of $1.7 billion.

We still have 6 more months in 2018 but it seems we all value a fair society a little bit more these days.