Microsoft VC Fund Joins $15m Investment In Evisort, A Legal AI Challenger

Microsoft’s own venture fund, M12 Ventures, has joined in a $15m investment into legal AI doc review and analysis challenger, Evisort, in a huge boost for the company that only just this February also bagged $4.5m in investor cash. That’s a lot of money pouring into a legal tech company in 10 months that few had heard of until recently.

(Note: see detailed interview with the company’s CEO, Jerry Ting, below.)

US-based Evisort, which describes itself as an ‘AI-powered contract intelligence system’, and which Artificial Lawyer profiled here, also gained the support of Vertex Ventures, which co-led with M12, while Amity Ventures and Serra Ventures also put down large wads of cash.

And, if Microsoft’s VC fund is excited by this company then we should probably take a moment to have a longer look.

This is what Nagraj Kashyap, Corporate Vice President and Global Head of Microsoft’s M12 Ventures, said: ‘Simply put, Evisort is creating the new command center for the operations team for mid- to large- enterprises. Evisort’s AI algorithms draw out the deepest insights for legal, procurement, and financial teams.’

Aside from the money and product pitch, at the end of the day this is a system that aims to use pre-trained NLP to read through documents, strip out key legal info and business data, and generally help companies keep on top of what’s going on. Or, at least that’s the simple version.

And here’s what the AI company said to Artificial Lawyer recently:

‘Evisort is different for a few reasons, mainly driven by the fact that our clients are usually in-house counsel, not law firms. First, our AI is pre-trained. We don’t require our users to help us train our algorithms, which most AI companies in the contract space do.

Secondly, we understand that for the in-house counsel, data is only valuable when it is usable in a workflow, which is why we’ve built integrations with systems other departments use, like procurement, finance, accounting, sales, and eSignature systems. If documents are stored inside of a different system, we can analyze the document, generate the meta-data fields, and push it back into the system.

Finally, the terms we track are different than other contract AI companies. We track the top legal terms, but we also track financial and business terms that attorneys supporting business units have to help manage. The goal is to be a holistic, end-to-end platform that puts the data in the hands of our users, not hidden behind a strict licensing model.’

Interesting stuff – and also likely to be in the same legal tech ballpark as Knowable, and some others.

‘Our goal is to relieve legal and procurement teams from the labor-intensive process of managing contracts and empower them with the insights they need to truly do their jobs. We’re excited to deliver a solution that impacts their day to day and frees them up to do the core work they are experts at,’ said Jerry Ting, Evisort’s CEO and co-founder.

For example, the platform reads and visualises 50 plus key data points, such as payment tables and contract expiration dates, and key legal clauses, allowing teams to focus on strategic decision making versus document processing. The system can also learn to read all types of unstructured documents. Given the nature of the materials, Evisort’s platform can be deployed securely behind a client’s firewall or within a company’s private cloud environment, they stressed.

Also of note is that the company says it has won more than 100 corporate clients in 2019 alone. Not bad… this includes: Brooks Brothers, Cox Automotive, Fujitsu, TravelZoo, and Sweetgreen.

Plus, more than half of Evisort’s customers have added multiple departments such as finance, procurement or HR as users to the platform within the first 30 days of their engagement, they add. The company estimates that they are tracking and helping companies manage more $40 Billion dollars worth of corporate contracts.

The bit about going beyond legal certainly chimes with views from teams such as Juro on this side of the Atlantic.

And now the bit about what the money is for. The ‘new funds will be used to grow Evisort’s team, expand product offerings, enhance the customer experience, and launch a new research and development office in Montreal, Quebec. The company anticipates hiring 10 technical team members for the Montreal office’.

So, there you go. The legal AI review and analysis market continues to evolve.

Artificial Lawyer Interview With Evisort CEO, Jerry Ting

– On a personal level what does it feel like to have gained this level of funding? 

When we started Evisort, we hoped to build advanced technologies to improve the lives of fellow lawyers. The fact that we’ve been able to raise $15m only a few months after we raised $4.5m in February shows the excitement that the investing community shares with our vision. In this round, we added Microsoft to our investor cap table, bringing to the contract management space one of the most respected technology powerhouses. It’s extremely exciting for us as founders to be able to have this type of investment and partnership to bring our vision to the mainstream market and continue to develop our product to serve our clients!

– In a market with several other well-known legal AI brands, how will Evisort take market share? 

Evisort is the first AI-based solution that combines the ability to automatically extract key data from contracts, like important legal clauses, dates, and payment information, with best-in-class workflow and automation SaaS. Due to the fact that Evisort serves both as a repository and as a workflow solution allows us to serve clients across industries and sizes, from a 70-person startup to several Fortune 500 companies. Clients don’t need to train the system, they can plug it in and that works. That’s very unique in the legal tech space.

– Do you see the tech used for doc review making significant leaps forward, or are we basically ‘there’ now? 

The machine learning technology we use and research is always improving, but there’s much that is already commercializable today. Our data science research team is always tracking new academic papers in order to commercialize the most cutting edge academic research. It’s really an exciting time to be building enterprise software as AI is changing so quickly and incremental advancements in AI can drive very significant efficiencies for our clients.

– Where do you hope the company will be in the next few years? 

We think we could be a very large, standalone company. There have been multi-billion companies built around managing data inside of customer and employee relationships, companies we look up to like Salesforce, Workday, SAP, and Oracle. We think we can become a data analytics provider for anything related to a business relationship, anytime an enterprises sells to a new client or buys a product, there is a papertrail that can be tracked and analyzed by Evisort.

Meanwhile, in other legal tech news from the US…

Gavelytics, the Los Angeles-based legal research and prediction company, has secured a patent for its trial court data analytics platform.

Patent no. 10,452,734 for ‘Data Visualization Platform for Use in a Network Environment’ covers Gavelytics’s invention of a unique way to parse, visualize and display data surrounding reassignment motions and similar filings, to compare such motions among a number of judges, and to predict which new judge will be assigned after a reassignment motion is granted. 

Inventors named on the patent include Rick Merrill, Juan Carlos Moreno, Jason Madsen, Brandon Hinesley, and Edgar Alejandro Anzaldua Moreno.

Merrill said of the patent win: ‘We are confident that our patented technology will continue to support our company’s growth as we expand throughout the United States. We look forward to launching new geographic coverage and products in the coming months.’

As readers know, Artificial Lawyer is not so enthusiastic over the value of bagging patents in terms of winning new clients. But, it can’t hurt when it comes to selling the company. So, congrats to Rick and team. (Artificial Lawyer is looking forward to seeing you all in California in 2020!)

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