Quickly Completed Due Diligence for $550M Acquisition

Industry
Machine Learning
Employees
200
Location
Cambridge, MA
Founded in 2013 Kensho
kensho.com

Kensho deploys scalable machine learning and analytics systems across the most critical government and commercial institutions in the world to solve some of the hardest analytical problems of our time. In the Fintech space, Kensho combines natural language search queries, graphical user interfaces, and secure cloud computing to create a new class of analytics tools for investment professionals. By addressing three of the most substantial challenges facing investment analysts on Wall Street today — speed, scale, and automation — Kensho's intelligent computer systems are capable of answering complex financial questions posed in plain English, and in real-time.

Kensho has a long list of admirers the world over. Kensho tops Forbes' Fintech 50 — the 50 most innovative private companies in Fintech globally; The World Economic Forum has named Kensho a Technology Pioneer — one of the most innovative private technology companies in the world, and Fortune has named Kensho one of the 5 Hottest Companies in Fintech.

Challenges

  • Needed to get its legal department’s contract management system in better order pre-acquisition by S&P Global to scale for high growth and prepare for potential acquisition due diligence.
  • Didn’t have a precise inventory of its documents and had multiple duplicates of the same contract.
  • Had difficulty extracting information from contracts in a way that wasn’t time-consuming and consistently inaccurate.
  • Lacked a well-functioning search function for its existing shared drive.
  • Struggled to find the right contract management system to fit its needs in a short timeframe: For example, some systems evaluated would take 12 months to implement plus an additional six months for training, which was 18 months the Kensho team couldn’t afford to lose.

Solutions

  • LinkSquares’ centralized repository was easy for Kensho to organize in a way that made sense to its legal team.
  • LinkSquares’ powerful search tools and tagging capabilities allow Kensho to search global terms and keywords across thousands of PDFs within seconds giving the company confidence regarding what is in each contract.
  • LinkSquares’ fast implementation of its technology and hands-on training was crucial for Kensho; the Kensho team was up and running within 30 days.
  • LinkSquares enables Kensho’s team to easily upload a variety of documents types via email and various app integrations which helps to eliminate Kensho’s need to engage with additional third-party vendors.

To succeed in today’s financial markets, investment analysts must ask complex and dynamic questions and quickly take steps to answer the questions – such as using billions of data points and analyzing historical events and trends to make solid real-time decisions and predict future outcomes amidst volatile markets, geopolitical tensions, and unpredictable actors. As more and more data – both structured and unstructured – is collected and becomes available, analysts grapple with how to quickly answer complex questions and get simple but effective actionable responses from data.

Kensho’s mission is to make asking and answering complex questions more straightforward by providing investment analysts and other stakeholders with scalable machine learning and analytics systems that augment human decision-making to help individuals better understand, translate, and use data.

Backed by investors as diverse as Google Ventures, Goldman Sachs, and In-Q-Tel (the venture capital arm of the CIA), Kensho was founded out of MIT and Harvard in 2013. Kensho’s team members come from veteran positions at Google, Apple, and Facebook, as well as academia. And in March 2018, S&P Global acquired Kensho for $550 million – the largest price on an A.I. company to date. The acquisition meant that a daunting task lay ahead for Kensho’s in-house legal team. "We needed to find and implement and new contract management software system because we needed to be extremely organized — and fast,” explained Alvaro Almanza, General Counsel and head of the legal team at Kensho.

"By using LinkSquares, we saved over 70 percent of the time we were previously putting towards manually identifying the right document."

Alvaro Almanza

Before becoming a LinkSquares customer, Almanza and his team evaluated multiple contract management systems to try and identify a solution meeting all of the company’s requirements which include:

  • Fast implementation and an intuitive system UI with minimal necessary training.
  • The ability to pull in various file types.
  • Advanced search tools and reporting.
  • Ability to efficiently organize data rooms and lists.
  • Quickly pull data from original documents
  • Identify duplicate documents.

None of the systems evaluated met all of the team’s requirements. “We found we were dealing with behemoth systems – that come with expensive extra features we don’t need – which take 12 months to implement on top of the months we’d have to spend training people on it,” says Almanza. Even with unnecessary extra features in tow, many of the contract management systems the company evaluated couldn't pull in various file types, which was a deal breaker for the Kensho team.

"We don’t need a system that does 100 things. We need a system that does the few things we need really well, and we found that LinkSquares does intelligent, cloud-based contract management in a way that meets our requirements really well,” says Almanza. "LinkSquares was designed to help people get up-to-speed very quickly within hours and days. It's effortless to get people to jump on and use the system."

LinkSquares’ search and tagging tools and capabilities impressed the Kensho team, particularly when they needed to complete and create due-diligence reports. The ability to search for key terms and easily pull contracts into data rooms without creating duplicates was a game-changer for Kensho. “The problem when trying to find a document in a due diligence project is that you’re creating a folder in which you’re putting copies of the document, meaning you’re creating a long-term problem because you’re creating duplicates in the same storage structure. It creates disorganization and chaos,” says Almanza.

LinkSquares’ tagging function allows the Kensho legal team to tag relevant files and pull them into various data rooms without creating duplicates. "We don't run into the problem of duplication anymore because we are certain we’re pulling the original,” explains Almanza. LinkSquares’ search function is powerful, fast, and forgiving in its nature which helps Kensho move quickly and confidently. The AI-powered cloud platform doesn't require Kensho to know precise wording to pull and display data that is relevant; it intuits what the company is looking for without precise search accuracy.

Kensho Office in Cambridge, MA. Credit: VentureFizz

"It's great to be able to use a search function that lets us make mistakes in our search queries and is still very efficient in helping us find what we need. And the automatic capabilities of the search function save us a lot of time; we don't have to keep opening each doc and looking through each doc manually – we can identify what we need about as fast as we can find and click the document,” says Almanza. “After we were acquired, the LinkSquares search function gave us the ability to pull up the correct document right away. By using LinkSquares, we saved over 70 percent of the time we were previously putting towards manually identifying the right document.”

For the Kensho legal team, the benefits of using LinkSquares both pre- and post-acquisition go beyond its powerful technology and extend to the strong relationship they’ve built with the LinkSquares team.

"When I sing the praises of LinkSquares to colleagues, it's not just about the LinkSquares platform, it's also about the people. The impact of the company’s responsiveness and usefulness to us is hard to describe. Every experience I’ve had with the LinkSquares team has been fantastic; they are very responsive, and they personally took the time to get to know who we are and what we need," says Almanza. "You can find other platforms out there that are good or will get the job done, but the people at LinkSquares combined with its superior technology is what really differentiates it as a leader in its field.”

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