Today two startups focused on contract management announced fresh capital. The twin rounds, totaling $170 million, were eye-catching for landing on the same day. While U.S. and global venture capital activity has calmed somewhat in recent quarters, accidental couplings of rounds like the two we see today help underscore how active the private capital markets remain.
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ContractPodAi: $55 Million
Based in London, ContractPodAi (the “i” is oddly lower-cased in its own branding), works in “contract management” for large companies. It cites EY, the large accounting firm, as a customer, for example. And like many companies in the modern world, ContractPodAi claims to use artificial intelligence to help power its legaltech offerings.
ContractPodAi also works with IBM’s Watson product, a heavily-advertised, putatively flexible AI tool that can be applied by a number of technology verticals.
Born in 2012, the company’s Series B was led by Insight Partners. Notably, Crunchbase has no data on the firm’s Series A or any extant Seed rounds; racing around the Internet doesn’t turn up much either. However, it doesn’t happen often that companies raise $55 million Series B rounds without having taken on capital previously. So, I would put the firm’s total capital raised to date somewhere in the $70 to $80 million range, if I was a gambler.
Now, let’s talk about the larger round.
Icertis: $115 Million
It is not as newsy as it once was to announce a $1 billion valuation, but today Icertis wants you to know that its new equity round prices itself “in excess of $1 billion.” Welcome to the Unicorn Club, Icertis. It’s similar to Hotel California in that you cannot leave. If you miss the IPO window, that is.
While ContractPodAi raised a Series B, Icertis’s new $115 million round is a Series E. It is also the company’s largest funding round to date. Indeed, the Bellevue, Washington-based Icertis had raised just $96 million before its new round according to Crunchbase data. Counting its new infusion, Icertis has raised $211 million in known capital as a private company.
What does it do? Contract management! Or, as it likes to describe it, “transform[ing] contracts into strategic business assets.” Like ContractPodAi, Icertis has a host of customers to brag about, including Microsoft and Qantas. But while ContractPodAi likes to flex AI, Icertis has blockchain on its website.
There is probably space in the market for both of these companies, given that the market they are selling into is enormous; every company uses contracts, and every company probably wants to improve their management of the damn things.
And as both startups managed to raise new private capital, they are growing quickly and have attractive economics. We know that given the space they work in, and the amount of capital that they were able to raise. But if each firm will be able to make it to an IPO will be interesting. The current market for tech startups and tech IPOs is hot. But every market has a turn, and we’re almost overdue for one now.
Illustration: Li-Anne Dias.