DocuSign will pay $US188M to acquire AI contract startup

DocuSign has announced its intent to acquire one of the leading contract analytics and AI technology providers, Seal Software, for $US188 million in cash.

The news builds on the existing relationship between the two companies. DocuSign already resells Seal's flagship analytics and machine learning application as part of the DocuSign Agreement Cloud - its suite of applications and integrations for automating and connecting the entire agreement process. DocuSign also made a strategic investment in Seal in March last year.

Founded in 2010, Seal employs AI-driven analytics to rapidly search large collections of agreements by legal concepts (rather than just by keywords); automatically extract and compare critical clauses and terms side-by-side; quickly identify areas of risk and opportunity; and deliver actionable insights that help solve legal and business challenges.

"As the Agreement Cloud company, DocuSign is about digitally transforming the very foundation of doing business: agreements and agreement processes," said Scott Olrich, DocuSign's chief operating officer. "We believe that AI will play a vital role in this transformation. And by integrating Seal into DocuSign, we can benefit from its deep technology expertise and its broad experience applying AI to agreements."

John O'Melia, Seal's chief executive officer, added that today's news both validates and extends the company's founding vision. "Seal was built to make finding, analysing, and extracting data from contracts simpler and faster," he said. "We have a natural synergy with DocuSign, and our team is excited to leverage our AI expertise to help make the Agreement Cloud even smarter. Also, given the company's scale and expansive vision, becoming part of DocuSign will provide great opportunities for our customers and partners."

There are many instances of companies already realizing the benefits of leveraging Seal AI in their agreement processes today. For example, one large international information-services company reduced the time spent on legal reviews by 75% thanks to DocuSign and Seal technologies. An international telecom company based in EMEA reduced the legal review time on customer agreements by more than 80%. A global financial services leader automated the analysis of over 2.6M contractual data points for critical supplier agreements. And a global aviation supplier reviewed over 25,000 agreements in just five business days as part of a corporate restructuring.

Once the acquisition has closed, DocuSign will continue to sell Seal's analytics application. It will also integrate and leverage Seal's AI technology to augment DocuSign CLM, its contract lifecycle management solution. This will help DocuSign CLM to automatically categorize clauses, extract their key terms, and then use that information to drive workflows—for example, automatically routing content to specific reviewers based on risk analysis and corporate policies.

Beyond CLM, DocuSign expects Seal's technology to make the AI foundation of the Agreement Cloud smarter too. Built in part by DocuSign's acquisition of technology from machine-learning startup Appuri in 2017, that foundation supports features like auto-tagging that are already offered today. These auto-tagging tools use AI to automatically detect where to put electronic tags on a document for signatures, dates, and other fields—a task that previously required human effort and judgment. Seal's technology will add a new range of AI capabilities, driven by advanced natural language processing, text analytics, and semantic