It’s the end of an era at CLM pioneer Agiloft as Colin Earl, who founded the company back in 1992, retires from his executive role. But, it’s also the beginning of a new era as the business brings in its first General Counsel (GC), Laura Richardson (pictured above), and a new CTO, John Pechacek. Earl will still sit on the company’s Board of Directors.
Earl (pictured below) graduated from Imperial College London in 1982 with a degree in Mechanical Engineering. After settling in Silicon Valley, California, and following a couple of tech-related roles, he started to build Agiloft.
In 2020 the company went through a major change when Eric Laughlin, then at EY’s legal managed services arm, (which had been boosted by the purchase of Thomson Reuters’ Pangea3 group and where Laughlin had been based), was brought in by Earl to become the new CEO.
The founder then became CTO and has held that role until now. Meanwhile, in 2021, Andy Wishart left Thomson Reuters to join Agiloft as Chief Product Officer. The company has received significant amounts of fresh funding since 2020 to accelerate its growth in what is also a new era in terms of both the supply and demand for CLM platforms.
So, it’s worth considering that amid all the interest in CLM at the moment, and the arrival of several relatively new players, Agiloft has been steadily evolving its offering for 30 years.
In terms of the new hires: Pechacek has 30 years of experience in enterprise technology and most recently served as Velocity Solutions’ CTO, prior to that he was Vice President of Software Engineering for PayScale.
Meanwhile, the new GC, Richardson, has served as GC and Senior Counsel within several tech companies such as Osso VR and Intel Corporation. She is also a Charter Member of the TechGC group.
To hear more about the new hires and also understand where Agiloft is heading now, Artificial Lawyer caught up with current CEO, Laughlin, to ask some more questions.
– Congrats on the hires, why is this happening now? Why is Colin Earl retiring from his executive role?
Adding an industry veteran like John Pechacek (pictured below), to our leadership team to guide the future of that technology gave Colin the opportunity to retire and leave Agiloft in good hands.
It was always Colin’s plan to retire when the time was right, and we’re lucky that he’s going to stay connected to Agiloft on our board of directors.
Huge congratulations to Colin on his retirement. He had the vision for building a hugely flexible, no-code platform before it became sexy and cool, and that core platform is the one John and the team are extending and building on today.
– How will John’s previous software experience at his other jobs translate to a CLM / legal tech company?
Coming from his roles at Velocity Solutions, PayScale and SAS, it was obvious on paper why John would be a great candidate to lead the next era of Agiloft; but what really sealed the deal was how well John fits into the Agiloft culture and buys into our focus on customer success and enabling innovation with our no-code platform.
John’s experience of developing flexible, interoperable, data driven solutions is hugely impressive, and he will be working closely with Andy Wishart, our Chief Product Officer and CLM Futurist, to bring our product vision and roadmap to life.
– Why are you hiring a General Counsel?
I’ve been saying for a while now that General Counsel need to have a seat at the executive table and be given the chance to strategically transform the businesses they work for. Transforming the role of the in-house legal team from managing risk and driving operational efficiencies to delivering real strategic value. So, it was time to practice what we preach.
Agiloft has been working with word class outside counsel until now, but given our place as a market leader and our rapid growth, adding a GC to the exec team makes a lot of sense. Especially as Laura is a champion of legal technology and legal operations.
I know Laura will be hugely valuable resource for the business, as well as customers, partners, and anyone else who is interested in legal department innovation. And that means she’ll be interacting with our customers – she’ll serve as another Agiloft ambassador to the legal tech and legal ops communities.
– Overall, how is Agiloft doing? There have been a lot of product improvements in the last year or so, what’s next?
The start of the year marked the beginning of a new era at Agiloft. We saw unprecedented growth in sales, expanding our customer count to more than 800. On the product side, we enhanced our Connected Experience Platform, enabling our users to utilise our CLM as a connected system of record across their organisation, and manage contracts in the tools they want, flow contract data to the systems they need, and connect easily to their organisations’ centralised governance systems.
I’m hugely proud of where Agiloft is today and I’m excited about what we have planned for the near and long term. We are experiencing unprecedented growth, especially in the enterprise market. Growing new customer sales by 100% in 2021 and boosting ARR by 60%; while also maintaining a customer satisfaction score of 95.5%. We will be making significant additions at all levels of the organisation to build and maintain that growth. Our technology helps companies save revenue, our customers told us that this was the exact reason they implemented Agiloft CLM – to help maintain costs and increase revenue during market fluctuations.
Recently our product organisation dedicated a lot of effort to making Agiloft the most connected CLM tool (connecting data and processes to upstream and downstream enterprise tools). Looking ahead at the roadmap, our focus is on using advanced analytics and AI to get the most out of the valuable data running through Agiloft.
– What is your view of the CLM funding situation? With valuations now much lower do you think some CLM companies were overvalued and will they face challenges if they burn through the cash they gained during what was a strange time for the market?
Agiloft has never been a ‘growth at all costs’ type of company, so valuation fluctuations aren’t my focus.
We’ve focused on building a sustainable company on the foundations of a sustainable community of employees, partners, and customers. I can’t speak for others in the market, but we continue to see growth because CLM is a technology that helps people thrive, survive, scale, and prosper in today’s challenging economic headwinds.
Thanks, Eric, and good luck on the next phase of growth at Agiloft, and also a big round of applause for Colin Earl for having built and grown the company across three decades!
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