Google’s AI investment fund, Gradient Ventures, has made what is understood to be its first ever financial commitment to a legal tech company – in this case Contractbook, a platform for end-to-end contract lifecycle management.
€3.5 million was raised by a syndicate led by Gradient Ventures, along with the Nordic VC-fund byFounders and a group of angel investors.
Google is not a complete stranger to investments in the legal world – back in 2011 it invested in consumer and SME legal platform, Rocket Lawyer. However, it is Gradient Venture’s first legal tech company. Gradient focuses on helping founders to ‘navigate the challenges in developing new technology products’ and has a strong focus on AI and automation systems.
While the move likely does not signal the beginning of an avalanche of investments from the $137 billion annual revenue Google into the legal tech sector, that it has singled out a legal tech application is noteworthy.
As to why the groundbreaking fund chose to invest, this is what Darian Shirazi, General Partner at Gradient had to say: ‘Contractbook’s focus on enabling SMEs to streamline the process of contracting has allowed them to attract thousands of customers in a multi-billion dollar market. We’re excited to partner with this strong team for years to come.’
Clearly then, Google’s AI venture fund believes they have found a very scaleable business. The fact that they focus on the SME aspect is also interesting, as this chimes with Rocket Lawyer – which also has more of a focus on helping consumers and SMEs.
The point that this fund – based in Palo Alto, California – explicitly notes that there is a ‘multi-billion dollar market’ to expand into, suggests that they also believe something quite transformative could take place in the legal services market.
But, we should not get carried away. This is generally a seed level funding in what is a small to medium-sized legal tech company. This is not Google buying Thomson Reuters or LexisNexis. Nor is it throwing tens of millions of dollars at a host of products in a bid to build a massive new platform.
That said, market observers will be watching with interest to see where this goes. One thing that has been an immediate effect of the investment is that Contractbook, which has its HQ in Copenhagen, has now registered as a business in the US.
The Danish company first launched its SaaS-based contract management platform in 2015, allowing SMEs to create, sign, and store legal documents digitally in one system. The company has since expanded its platform and added new products to their portfolio including a client portal for legal professionals, and a contract drafter that automatically generates contracts based on customer questionnaires, the company explained.
Niels Martin Brochner, CEO and founder, at Contractbook, added: ‘With the new capital, we are ready to expand Contractbook’s footprint globally. We believe that our continued product focus and iteration will enable our customers to manage the full contract lifecycle through one platform. We don’t need to re-invent ourselves, but rather maintain our strong unit economics while scaling.’