Earlier this month NLP-powered CLM company LinkSquares bagged $40m in a Series B funding round, in what is another sign of just how vibrant the CLM market is right now. Artificial Lawyer caught up with Vishal Sunak, CEO and co-founder of the company, to find out what this all means in terms of the bigger picture.
– First, congrats on the new funding – how important is this?
It’s always a great feeling to have further validation of what we are doing in CLM, and we’re excited to work with our new investors Sorenson Capital, Catalyst Investors, Xerox and Bottomline Technologies.
We’ve been operating really well and we had the majority of our Series A equity cash on hand to start this year. So, funding wasn’t the most important item on our list, but we felt like it was the right time to accelerate the growth of the company from all angles given the fact that this category is becoming a global must-have for businesses. Accelerating our product roadmap and vision is the most important thing for us, and raising more capital will enable that.
– Is the CLM market actually growing rapidly now (or is it a mirage) and why is that?
CLM is a 20-year-old market that is going through a full renaissance. Companies seeking CLM solutions are beginning to see clear themes in existing players in terms of capabilities mapping against internal use cases and problems they are looking to solve.
It’s a changing of the guard between the older players and the new emerging providers who are thinking about the problem at hand from fresher perspectives, with a significant technology advantage, and without the baggage of solving this problem 20 years ago.
– What is changing among GCs that makes them want to use CLM? Have they developed a more ‘enterprise mindset’ that goes beyond just the legal function?
I think legal and the GC want to own their seat on the executive leadership team, more than ever before. Legal has typically been the department that time and technology left behind.
The modern GC craves being able to work collaboratively, use data like their peers on the executive team, and be able to have real insights into what is going on. Elevating the status of the legal function is a huge priority we see in the actions they are taking now to purchase systems that can enable that cross-department success.
– How important is your NLP capability to your overall offering?
We are an AI-first company, so our NLP capability is top of mind, always. But I think it stretches far beyond the innovations we’ve made in our Analyze product to provide automated contract metadata extraction capability. We’re now focusing on the full spectrum of the contract lifecycle to enable ways that automation, intelligence, and insights powered by AI can help speed up decision-making and enable faster execution.
– Do you believe there will only be 2 or 3 big players in a few years that will have dominated the CLM field? If not, what will the future look like?
I think the global CLM market is so huge, it can create multiple large companies in the future – the opportunity is that great and the adoption is that low. But you also see lots of ‘component’ players that are doing great work in areas such as contract assembly, redlining and negotiation, and workflows.
I predict that you’ll see many more buy-side acquisitions for the larger players to be able to up-level their offerings, leaning on these great component manufacturers that ultimately will provide lots of value to the buyers.
Thanks Vishal! And good luck with the next chapter of LinkSquares’ growth story.