Microsoft Fund M12 Invests in Definely

Microsoft’s venture fund, M12, and CRE Venture Capital, have co-led a £2.2m ($3m) ‘Seed-Plus’ investment round into doc drafting startup, Definely.

Definely, which has recently rebranded from Define, helps lawyers to find and understand key terms in a contract, and has been part of Allen & Overy’s FUSE tech incubator.

The latest funding follows a Seed round raised in September 2020, bringing Definely’s total investment to date to £3.4m ($4.7m). Definely will use this investment to accelerate product development, expand its team, and further grow beyond the UK.

M12’s involvement is clearly significant because the fund belongs to Microsoft – the world’s most popular document format – and Definely is a document editor. In fact, the company describes itself as ‘a powerful Microsoft Word plugin’.

Whether this indicates a long-term intention on the tech giant’s part to one day buy Definely outright is anyone’s guess – M12 has invested in over 100 small companies since 2016 and clearly Microsoft isn’t going to try and take on more than a tiny handful of those.

Either way it’s a handy move, given that M12’s mission’s ‘is to empower entrepreneurs with capital, customer connections, and unparalleled access to Microsoft’. Being close to Microsoft can only help a company that lives inside the world of Word.

M12 has also invested in the legal tech sector before, having invested twice in pioneering CLM company, Evisort.

M12 Managing Director, Matthew Goldstein, said: ‘Much of the contract updating process is still very manual, and slight changes can have hugely material impacts on the net effect of a document. Definely is helping leading law firms increase productivity while mitigating risk.’

But, what does Definely really do? They explain it this way: ‘By simply highlighting any term in your document, Definely instantly displays the full meaning of the term, allowing immediate editing or review without ever needing to scroll away from the relevant provision, saving time and reducing inefficiency.’

The company added that: ‘Until Definely, lawyers had to rely on inefficient solutions to find the meaning of key information in their legal documents such as scrolling endlessly through numerous pages, using keyboard hacks like Ctrl+F, or printing off reams of paper to review hard copies.’

And here’s an AL TV product walk through from last year (when then were still Define).

Customers include Deloitte, Allen & Overy and Dentons.

Ben Brooks, Associate at Allen & Overy, said: ‘Before Definely I would have to have multiple copies of the same contract open on my screens or a printed copy in front of me. Definely allows you to work logically through the contract whilst viewing and editing other areas, never having to navigate away from the provision you are considering. I would not want to draft a contract without using Definely.’

The company, which first started back in 2017, was created by former Magic Circle lawyers, Nnamdi Emelifeonwu and Feargus MacDaeid.

Founder and CEO of Definely, Emelifeonwu, concluded: ‘Legal technology is stepping out of nascency and becoming embedded in how the modern-day lawyer works. Definely not only speeds up the review and drafting process, but importantly it allows a lawyer to be more accurate with their output because they never have to leave where they are and lose context when working on a document. We’re delighted to have M12 on board with our mission to make the reading, understanding and drafting of legal documents simple.’