In an unprecedented example of a legal tech company attacking another in public, Luminance has announced via press release and social media that ‘it is putting together a rescue package for users of Kira Systems following the company’s disposal’ after the Litera deal.
In particular, Luminance takes aim at its rival’s law firm clients, and states in its press release: ‘In light of the decision by Kira’s senior management team to no longer operate in the law firm market, Luminance reiterates its commitment to law firms…’
And, to add to that the release also states: ‘On 10th August, Kira announced that the company was being broken up and its senior management team would be leaving to start a new business in other markets. The remaining rump of Kira was disposed of in a sale to a third party.’
The company’s CEO, Eleanor Weaver, then stated in the same PR message: ‘Luminance is fully committed to the law firm market and will continue its rapid growth and technology development in that area. Those customers of Kira who wish to continue with the vision of AI-assisted legal practice will find the Luminance community welcoming and supportive.’
The entire press statement and social media output is clearly designed to cause as much consternation as possible among Kira’s clients, but it also hides the reality.
For example, the details of the deal announcement (see video below) and also the news piece from August 10, (see AL article), clearly explain that Kira has been sold to Litera, with the law firm-focused part of the company going over to the Litera platform where it will be serviced and supported by the larger company. I.e. for law firms there is continuity.
Then about 30 or so people, led by Kira’s outgoing CEO, Noah Waisberg, will be part of a new company, Zuva, that will focus on the corporate market. But, and this is a key point, Waisberg will remain a strategic adviser to Litera. Alex Hudek, CTO and co-founder of Kira, will also do work as a consultant for Litera following the deal. So, although not employees of Litera, they are not vanishing.
Also, the use of the term ‘broken up’ doesn’t really fit. The way it’s been put by Luminance gives the impression that Kira is somehow dissolving, leaving clients in the lurch – which is a rather twisted up way of looking at it. Yes, the law firm part and the corporate-focused part are separating into two businesses, but ‘broken up’ is a far more aggressive way of putting it.
Also, the press release calls the sale a ‘disposal’, conjuring up an image of abandonment. And the appeal to customers who want to ‘continue with the vision of AI-assisted legal practice’ suggests that Kira is somehow going to stop its use of NLP technology – which of course is the opposite of reality. As part of Litera, Kira will likely expand its services to law firms in conjunction with its new owners, and will be supported by an organisation that has a track record of acquiring companies and carefully integrating them into the platform to provide a better combined offering.
One would assume that Luminance naturally knew exactly what it was doing when it wrote this PR material and which nerves it would dig into.
Luminance and Kira have been rivals in the NLP-driven contract analysis space for several years, and it looks as though the UK-based company is taking the opportunity of the purchase of Kira by the growing platform, Litera, to try and unsettle its clients and attempt to scoop them up.
The problem with this negative PR strategy by Luminance can be summed up by the following points:
- Attacking rivals rather than proving your own value never looks good.
- Any client of Kira that had any concerns about post-merger service will no doubt have been in touch with Kira and/or Litera already and been updated. The Luminance press release is treating Kira’s sophisticated law firm customers as if they are a bit dim and will just see their PR message and suddenly say: ‘Oh, OK, let’s move over to Luminance even though we have been working with Kira’s system for a very long time.’
Artificial Lawyer reached out to Litera about this and understandably they didn’t want to throw any more fuel on the fire, but simply stated that their news release explained everything very clearly.
That said, both Litera’s CEO, Aveneesh Marwaha and Kira’s Waisberg couldn’t resist a bit of a response on Twitter last night.
Artificial Lawyer contacted other people in the market last night about this. One replied that now ‘they didn’t know what to think’ – suggesting Luminance’s PR effort has had at least a short term negative impact on some people. While another stated that it looked to them that the Kira/Litera deal was going to make life a lot harder for Luminance now, as it would help to improve the overall Kira offering to law firms.
In any case, the world of legal tech usually is a sector of politeness and although everyone can get a bit too hyped sometimes, things don’t usually get this negative or deliberately designed to undermine another company in public.
The sad part of this is that Artificial Lawyer has seen Luminance demoed several times over the years and it is a very good product. It also does indeed have some great clients, e.g. Slaughter and May. So, it’s not a great look for them.
Any road, have a read of the below text and you decide:
Luminance press release in full, (as it appears on their website).
LUMINANCE OFFERS MIGRATION HELP TO CUSTOMERS HIT BY KIRA DISPOSAL
16 August 2021- In light of the decision by Kira’s senior management team to no longer operate in the law firm market, Luminance reiterates its commitment to law firms and is announcing that it is putting together a commercial and technical package to allow Kira users to migrate their work and configurations as seamlessly as possible.
On 10th August, Kira announced that the company was being broken up and its senior management team would be leaving to start a new business in other markets. The remaining rump of Kira was disposed of in a sale to a third party.
A leading British AI company, Luminance is used by over 300 organisations globally. Law firms have been and remain a key customer base for the company, with Luminance counting one in five ‘Global Top 100’ law firms as users of its machine learning software.
Eleanor Weaver, Luminance’s CEO, comments, “Luminance is fully committed to the law firm market and will continue its rapid growth and technology development in that area. Those customers of Kira who wish to continue with the vision of AI-assisted legal practice will find the Luminance community welcoming and supportive.”
Further details of the rescue package will be available shortly.
In 2020, Luminance saw its customer base increase by 40% and is now used by all of the ‘Big Four’ professional services firms and corporations like UK supermarket, Tesco, as well as world-leading law firms such as Dentons, White & Case and Holland & Knight. Earlier this year, Luminance was named a ‘Future Fifty’ company by Tech Nation.