What The DocuSign Investment in Clause Means – Interview With Peter Hunn, CEO

E-signature company, DocuSign, and a host of other investors, including Galaxy Digital and Seedcamp, have made a $5.5m Series A investment in smart contract pioneer, Clause. The major investment comes at an important time for smart contracts as they become a working reality and marks another milestone in the technology’s acceptance.

Artificial Lawyer interviewed CEO and Founder of Clause, Peter Hunn, about what the investment means for Clause and what’s next for the company that is hoping to see widespread use of its technology throughout the legal world.

– First, congrats on the investment. What does this mean for smart contract technology? 

Thank you! We’ve been building very quickly over the last year. We’re very grateful that Artificial Lawyer has covered a lot of that. Over that time it has been increasingly evident that smart contracts are achieving mainstream adoption and interest faster than originally anticipated.

This funding enables us to expand our engineering and customer-facing teams to respond. However, it goes further than that. The DocuSign investment is a landmark for smart legal contracts. This is not just a business and technical partnership, but a financial one. It represents mainstream acceptance of smart contracts and Clause as the category defining technology.

– This isn’t your first funding round – what does an investment of this size mean for Clause as a business?

It is a huge vote of confidence to have partners of this quality see the value, and believe in everything we have been working towards. It enables us to to expedite investment across all areas of the company; ultimately resulting in Clause growing in the verticals we can target and the features we can offer. There is a lot planned and this investment helps us realize those plans.

– You, your team, Clause and the Accord Project have all come a very long way in a short time. How does it feel to be where you are now?

Peter Hunn, Founder and CEO, Clause

Three years ago you would have received quizzical looks when mentioning smart contracts in the legal industry.

That has completely changed. Smart contracts are mentioned at pretty much every legal conference you go to. That means a lot for the acceptance and exposure of this technology. We’re pleased to play a leading role in its evolution. It feels like the e-signature moment for contracts all over again.

This is just the start, however. The pace of development is only going to increase. In the last month, for example, we’ve moved the Accord Project to the Linux Foundation, held the inaugural industry event for smart legal contracts with the City of London, released numerous new features, presented a new product with DocuSign, and announced this investment round. Imagine where we will be at the end of the year.

None of this would have been possible without the team we have assembled. Dan Selman and Matt Roberts have built a brilliant engineering team that is really redefining an entire industry. The examples of incredible talent are too numerous.

Diana Lease, our front-end lead, for example, joined us as her first engineering role and in less than 18 months is building innovative new products directly with DocuSign engineers. It is a pleasure to get to work with this team and to add more talent to it. That is a real privilege. It makes coming to work on a Monday morning very easy!

‘Three years ago you would have received quizzical looks when mentioning smart contracts in the legal industry.’

– DocuSign also recently invested $15m in legal AI doc review company Seal Software – will you be working with Seal now as well? (AL understands that they have a lot of their own ideas about smart contracts and related tech.)

There is certainly scope for that. Seal is a great company, doing a lot of really interesting work around contract analytics. You could imagine, for example, contract data from Clause being visualized and analyzed using Seal. There is a lot to explore there as we develop the technology further.

– And finally, what next? Where does Clause go from here and how do you scale up from where you have got to?

We keep going.

Whilst this is a milestone for the industry and the company, it is just one step in the journey to bringing smart legal contracts to ubiquity. Of course we will be working closely with DocuSign and their customers, building out more integrations, making it easier to create smart legal contracts, intuitively input data to, and receive data from, contracts, and much more.

There are so many exciting features on the roadmap for the next quarter. I’m sure Artificial Lawyer readers will be able to hear all about those here!

If you have any ideas of features or functionality you’d like to see, please let us know: hello@clause.io

P.S. it’s also interesting to read the words of DocuSign COO, Scott Olrich, who last week said of Clause: ‘DocuSign’s investment in Clause reflects the impact that smart clauses can have on simplifying and accelerating the overall agreement process. Earlier this year, we announced the DocuSign Agreement Cloud—a suite of products and integrations for digitally transforming how organisations prepare, sign, act on, and manage agreements.

‘At its core, this helps companies to automate and connect their entire agreement process. The technology being pioneered by Clause is one of the fundamental drivers here, and we’re looking forward to partnering with them for the future.’

Interesting times…!