Toward the end of last year, text analysis company Ayfie decided to shut down its German operation – where it so happened its recently appointed CEO was based along with a significant development team. Now, rising from the ashes of this shutdown comes NEOMO, which one might say is also something of a rebirth.
NEOMO’s founders are Johannes Stiehler, Ayfie’s previous CEO, plus Florian Lohmeier, who was General Manager of the company in Germany. The new venture will also focus on text analytics and, among other sectors, work in the legal field.
It’s good to have Stiehler and Lohmeier back in action. Artificial Lawyer caught up with the two German legal tech pioneers to find out some more. And, as you’ll see, as with all things that connect to Ayfie, the story has some twists and turns. Enjoy.
- What is NEOMO and what will it focus on?
NEOMO is the legal successor of a company Florian and I co-founded in 2012 to create and service bespoke solutions in the areas of text analytics and search.
All employees of that company were eventually hired into Ayfie when it started in 2016. Now that Ayfie is no longer interested in eDiscovery and computational linguistics, we are relaunching it with a new name and an adjusted strategy. We cannot really tell you more about it right now, but things will become apparent over the next couple of weeks.
(Also, the name NEOMO had been used by another search company in the early 2000s. Back then, Florian and I actually operated their search portal. We decided to buy up the name and domains a while ago since we found it quite fitting for our own business.)
- Is this mainly the Ayfie Germany team that is joining NEOMO?
Some of the employees of Ayfie Germany have moved over with us, some have pursued other paths. Generally, search and text analytics are relatively tightly connected fields where you necessarily meet and work with the same experts over and over again.
- Will the company work in the legal sector?
Yes, it will. Although the ideas that Florian and I believe in no longer have a home in Ayfie, we still think they are very valid. We will definitely look at providing solutions for intelligent automation of tasks in the legal sector and other areas. We will however not follow the exact same strategy that Ayfie had for a number of reasons.
We have obviously created interesting customer relationships and personal connections to experts in many sectors which we will definitely keep cultivating.
- Are you looking for funding?
No, as of now, we are not looking for funding for the NEOMO company and we probably never will. However, there might be ventures in our future that could benefit from external money.
- How do you feel about what happened to Ayfie and your previous roles there?
Well, we are feeling very content about what we were able to achieve at Ayfie. Last year, during a pandemic and in the context of general economic turmoil, we managed to cut losses drastically while continuing to maintain and support all our products and even extend our reach in our core markets through acquisition and sales. We have created a well-known brand and solutions that made a difference to our customers.
Obviously, the Ayfie owners still decided to take the company in a new direction – or rather reroute it to the old direction of selling enterprise search in a geographically limited market.
Neither of us consider this a smart move or a good decision for securing the company’s future. This not only led to our departure, but also caused fluctuation in other teams – and probably will continue to do so when the job market picks up again.
Good luck to Johannes and Florian on the new(-ish) venture!
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