Legal AI Startup Paperflip Folds, Founders Join DocuSign

Paperflip, a California-based NLP contract analysis system that stood out from the crowd with its close integration with Salesforce is to wind down. Its two founders, Tim Cederman-Haysom and David Wong, are to take senior roles in DocuSign, the esignature company that is rapidly expanding its reach into the contract review space.

Artificial Lawyer wrote about the startup in October last year. They received a $1m Seed funding also that month. However, it doesn’t look as though things worked out for them. It’s not clear if funding challenges in the current market were a contributing cause, although it would seem logical that this may well have played a part.

The founders have issued a statement to explain their decision, and it’s all about realising the future will be platform-based, they said (see below).

Perhaps of wider interest to the legal tech market as a whole, is that they have joined DocuSign, a company that has bought Seal Software and made investments in contract editing system, BlackBoiler, and also smart contract pioneer, Clause. Now they are taking two legal tech founders to lead the $1 billion revenue company’s contract analytics team in the Bay Area.

The founders noted that they are also on a hiring spree at DocuSign and are looking for a range of talents to join the contract group.

In short, if the market was already paying some attention to what DocuSign was doing with contracts, it should really pay attention now.

Tim Cederman-Haysom and David Wong last year.

The Paperflip statement in full:

‘After four great years working on contract analytics at Paperflip, it’s time for a change in direction.

Paperflip was founded to help companies easily understand what was actually in their contracts, trust they knew their obligations, and take action on them accordingly.

We built our Salesforce app to allow customers to keep their existing workflow and source of truth. This meant not only legal, but sales, finance, and other teams could also benefit from contract analytics.

While building Paperflip, we ultimately realized that the contract analytics space is consolidating into broader platform offerings, where analytics is a part of a suite of contract tools aimed to meet all of a customer’s requirements. Right now, the company with the best end-to-end platform is DocuSign with its Agreement Cloud.

We are excited to announce that David and Tim have both joined DocuSign to lead the Bay Area’s contract analytics team and continue pushing forward a workflow-first approach to contract analytics – and in turn, wind Paperflip down.

We also want to give thanks to all of our amazing investors and advisors for their support while working on Paperflip, we appreciate you all.

DocuSign is hiring! Please get in touch.’

Is this a big move? As noted above, this has a triple significance:

  1. it suggests that VC funding for startups remains challenging – as one can only assume that if funding was easy to get then the company would have stayed operational – or at worst would have been bought out by someone in an operational state at a later date, rather than go into a wind down right now.
  2. it shows that legal tech founders are buying into the platform idea more than ever before….and to some extent the Paperflip team already saw things this way with their close integration with Salesforce.
  3. it confirms once more that DocuSign is very serious about building a contract review and analytics capability, as seen with the planned hiring binge after several other important moves in this field.