When I was at law school in a prior life, Contracts was one of my favorite classes. The cases were filled with colorful stories of people who thought they had an agreement but didn’t, or ended up with an agreement that was different from the one they thought they had.
At the outset, lawyers were deeply involved in every contract formation. Red wax seals and ribbons were used to evidence the solemn agreement of the counterparties, every page was initialed. Today contracts get executed electronically online in the blink of an eye. Except in Germany, where financing documents and other agreements continue to be read aloud and in full before a highly-paid German notary.
Contracts are written expressions of commercial agreements between parties seeking to do business. Businesses cannot be built or operate without them. Contracts usually set forth the terms of revenue, as well as vendor terms, licenses and leases, purchase orders, employment agreements, etc. They function as the commercial knowledge/database of most companies and other organizations.
While commercial agreements have gravitated towards standard forms managed by people who aren’t lawyers, contract management remains a labor intensive, expensive, analog activity. Contracts today are written using Word or other word processing software. Post signature, they are generally locked down in pdfs. These documents remain 100% static files filled with valuable but unstructured data, not much different than words on a piece of paper collecting dust in a library. Large companies have been built over the past 10 years that simplify online signatures and storage, but they have done little else.
Today we’re announcing an investment in Juro, which is working expeditiously to bring contract management into the 21st century. Juro operates in the cloud and converts its clients’ contracts into modular, dynamic documentation that lives (and can be edited) in the browser. Juro’s software streamlines and integrates the workflows around contract preparation, negotiation, signature, storage and management. It goes without saying that the legal documents for this financing were agreed using Juro.
Juro’s data model, which aims to turn documents into structured data prior to signature, makes contract management 10x more efficient than files-based systems. The data model also empowers the Juro team to develop cool features that, among other things, will give its users insights and suggestions in real-time.
We’re excited to join Juro’s co-founders Richard and Pavel and the rest of the Juro team to help build the leading contract management platform. We’re also looking forward to working with our friends at Juro’s existing investors Point Nine Capital and Paul Forster, the co-founder of Indeed.com, a former USV portfolio company.