Tyson continues his new podcast series with Ajay Agrawal, CEO & Co-Founder of SirionLabs. They discuss why Ajay has chosen to relocate back to India, his thinking process and how he came to found two highly successful legal start-ups in the last 15 years.
Detours include capital funding near-misses, how SirionLabs got its name from an obscure Tolkien reference and the joys of cycling for exercise and mindfulness (where Ajay definitely does not ride an eBike)…
Ajay Agrawal started his career as a black letter lawyer on Wall Street having trained at Cambridge and Columbia. in 2006 he founded UnitedLex, alongside Daniel Reed, which was one of the earliest legal process outsourcing companies, Having been drawn to legal tech and the problem of “contract education”, Agrawal sold his stake in United Lex and founded SirionLabs in 2012, where he is using artificial intelligence technology to disrupt the field of enterprise contract lifecycle management.
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Please note this transcript was automatically generated and has been edited for length and/or clarity.
Tyson: Excellent, well welcome Ajay to the second podcast for SYKE. Super excited to have you here I’ve been really excited to speak with you all week. I’ve been doing a little bit of research and reading a little bit about you and the successful company – or two companies actually – that you’ve been involved with over the last few decades. So yeah, welcome maybe if we can just start by introducing yourself and you know tell us what you do and who you work for
Ajay: Delighted to be here Tyson to talk with you today and to share a little bit about my journey. My name is Ajay Agarwal I’m the founder and CEO of SirionLabs one of the market leaders in the CLM SaaS category and prior to this I was the founder of UnitedLex which is one of the global leaders in alternative legal services. But I started my career as a black letter lawyer, I was trained in Cambridge and then in Columbia and I worked on Wall Street for many years before becoming an entrepreneur in the early part of the last decade at UnitedLex.
Tyson: Yeah, excellent yeah, I’m really looking forward to kind of hearing the story about you know the conversation you probably had in your head when you were like you know I’m done with Wall Street and then I’m kind of going to start something on my own because I think that would be really interesting. But first before that like I’m really interested to know and I’m sure everyone else is what does a day in the life of Ajay look like? You know I imagine it’s incredibly varied and incredibly busy but you know just give us a description of you know one day this week what it’s look like and how interesting it is?
Ajay: Yeah, I’m happy to do that and in fact I would say you’re spot on with the variation. Circa 2019 the great benefit of Covid is that it’s restored some level of predictability to my daily rhythm yeah in a way that I could actually give a meaningful answer to this question today. So, I think for me on four days of the week I get up relatively early in the morning and go mountain biking with a group of friends to start my day, to get the blood flowing, to get the metabolism up and running. Yeah. Typically, the first half of my day is reserved, I tried not to do any calls the first half of the day and actually that works out nicely because for the last two years I’ve been operating from India during Covid. When I was working from New York this was not always easy to accomplish but, in these days, the first half of my day is typically spent thinking more on strategic issues. It’s solo time it’s the ability to reflect on the bigger issues, you know at the company or at a more strategic level and then by the early afternoon Europe is waking up and by early evening America is waking up so then of course it’s client-facing and investor facing and other kinds of conversations that come in.
Tyson: And typically, you know roughly, what time does your day end?
Ajay: So, it typically on the four days that I’m cycling I try to end by about a little after midnight but on the average day it can get up to one in the morning one thirty in the morning
Tyson: Yeah, and I feel your pain. I mean one thing I’m quite intrigued about you, which is a little bit different from you know other CEO and founders and your peers essentially is that you’ve chosen to stay in India instead of you know be based in in the US or do you tend to float between the two? And was that, what prompted that decision because I think it’s fantastic.
Ajay: Yeah I think from a personal perspective Tyson I did relocate to the US in 2017 and I was in New York for two years and I would still be there but not for Covid which basically completely re-architect and I think the reason I moved to the US is I wanted to be closer to our clients, to our partners and it did make sense at the time. It hasn’t made sense since this outbreak of Covid for reasons I think that we all understand but I think the deeper point behind your question is we are able to also at SirionLabs do a lot of things that are typically thought of as only capable of being done in first world geographies. So, a lot of the key and which is why I’ve been able to operate so seamlessly in India for the past two years and before New York and things like for example a product design or UI, UX or you know corporate strategy and early GTM leadership all came out of India. We were able to find the right skill sets and get the right leadership group in India in the early years and that I think was relatively unusual when you look at enterprise SaaS companies, even the ones that have a large number of their technology and customer success operation and headcount located in India, the thought leadership of the company tends to be typically in the west, and I think that’s also been the case with us over the last several years we’ve seen that east-west migration of some of these higher order thought processes and that has coincided with my own move to the west.
Tyson: Yeah, yeah yeah, I agree I mean I’m from Australia so I mean one of the things that we’re always concerned about in Australia is learning that you know losing that skill set with people kind of heading overseas to Europe and America but you know it’s good to see that you’re flying the flag back the other way. One thing you touched on was around you know you you’re reserving the time in the mornings for think time. You know people think in different ways like for you do you think by sitting down and scribbling on paper, do you think by walking, do you collaboratively think or is it a mixture of all you know how do you do your best thinking?
Ajay: Yeah that’s a great question and I think and by the way in terms of the physicality of it definitely all of the above I do at least 30% of my conversations one-on-one conversations tend to be walk and talks and I’ve learned to kind of apologize gently at the beginning of the call saying sorry you’re going to hear some neighbourhood sounds – traffic, dogs – request you to put up with that because it’s very healthy for me and by the way if you want to put on your walking shoes and do the same super open to that! So, walk I find that when I’m walking my thoughts tend to flow a lot more naturally particularly when I’m walking outside the house as opposed to a treadmill. So, for me that is a very very thoughtful activity walking it’s always been a reflective activity for me but in terms of the actual thought process itself I find that there are two things that are really core to that. Number one is looking behind at the key events that occurred either the day before or the week before and how we either surmounted those situations dealt with them and what the learnings from those situations are I find that my stress levels tend to go up if I typically do not get perspective on how we confronted a challenge in the immediate past. I think if I get the feeling that this was a tough situation, we dealt with it successfully but I don’t understand how we dealt with it, and if it recurs it’s going to kind of raise the same level of stress, that for me is a problem. So being able to reflect on a particular fact pattern and a strategy deployed to deal with it and to bring that into the operating arsenal that’s a very big part of the think time for me. And I think the largest part and I think this is the bit that for me took the was the hardest lesson as a CEO as a founder is looking ahead and trying to separate the wheat from the chaff. What are the things that really matter among the long list of things that I’m supposed to be involved with? What are the things that are going to drive the deepest impact for the organization and how can I connect the dots between them and shape it as a vision statement or even as a set of priorities for the people who work with me? I think too many of us are guilty early in our career as CEOs as founders of just jumping in that manic energy that we bring that willing acceptance I used to call myself the janitor in chief! That willing acceptance of a task no matter how menial is the quality that ennobles founders but it’s also the quality that drags them down from what their truest and highest purpose is – which is to identify the vision and to point the way at what really really matters. And it took me a very long time to understand that.
Tyson: Yeah yeah I know like yeah well fantastic insight I attended a talk recently at a conference called web summit here in in Portugal – it’s like the biggest technology company – and the CEO of booking.com was talking and she was talking about you know and they’ve had a fantastic journey kind of maybe similar to yours in that they started as six people in a tiny office in Holland and now it’s grown to what it is today. But she was talking about that vision kind of I’ve come because I’m leading to about the vision and kind of your mission point here and she calls it a true north and she said you know from the moment we founded booking.com and you know we were that six people in the little office kind of running around solving people’s travels problems and you know making them memorable journeys. We’ve never changed the true north no matter what and she said that’s kind of what has kept her kept her strong during this whole time. I mean what’s your true north for Sirion and has it changed over time or do you think it’s it you’ve stayed the course and it is still your true north now?
Ajay: Very similar to the journey that you’ve just described of the bookings.com founder I think are and I would even go so far as to elevate that to a true moral north. I think there’s been a kind of that moral compass that aligns to our true north of Sirion and it always has been about reducing the friction between business counterparties. Of course, the largest medium through which we act upon that friction is contracting right, but ultimately it could be a whole layer of business transactions and artifacts that either originate from the contract or in some ways are related to the contract. For us it’s interaction and the friction that occurs between them. What we found I think a decade ago prior to even starting the company – this is when I was working in my first company UnitedLex is that 80% of the dialogue between buyers and suppliers after signing a contract tends to be about whose data is right so in other words in colloquial terms, they’re talking about talking instead of talking to each other. They’re trying to assert the primacy of their own data and only 20 percent of the dialogue is that kind of elevated refined dialogue where they’ve agreed on the facts. It’s not about who’s version of the fact is but they’re actually solving problems. So, for me that’s what the world of friction looks like and for us that’s always been a moral compass a true north. It’s how do you attack that 80 or how do you alter that 80 20 ratio.
Tyson: Yeah, that’s an interesting point. Maybe changing tact a little bit. If you were to give a TED talk on something that is not in your normal area of expertise – what would be the TED talk you would give and why?
Ajay: Well, I mean I have to say I’m not sure that I’m qualified to give a TED talk! I think in many ways I’m still learning so much every single day so I’m not even sure I’m qualified to. I think TED talks come best from people who have learned very profound lessons in that journey who have understood the meanings of those lessons and who are fundamentally great storytellers and I’m not sure I’m either one of those three. So, for me whether I give a TED talk on the topic of Sirion or anything else learned in life I think it would be very presumptuous of me to assume I have something of that nature to share.
Tyson: I think you would have a very good story to tell…
Ajay: Okay so there’s one it’s one topic I think that fascinates me – and it’s kind of partially related to our main area of expertise, and partially outside of it, is how Smithian, classical Ricardian Smithian economics of the late 19th century has bled into corporate behaviour in the 20th century. This for me is really a very very fascinating journey I think when Adam Smith is writing his dialogue it’s at the level of nation states and he’s talking about how nation states have a comparative advantage in doing one activity or the other and that’s what they should prioritize. They should focus on what they’re good at rather than trying to do everything inside every country and being self-sufficient in every area, and I think it took the corporate world maybe 40, 50, 60 years to understand that the same lesson applies to corporations as well. I think in the corporate lexicon we call it core competency and how core competency influenced corporate behaviour over the last hundred years. Literally let’s say from the Spanish flu to Covid, 1922 to 2021, that for me is a fascinating journey. I would if I was to talk about anything that would probably be the one thing.
Tyson: Oh mate you you’ve got me sold like I would definitely click view on that one I mean I read an interesting book similar to that called Prisoners of Geography which was kind of talking about the geopolitical space and you know over the last 800 years how the rise and fall of different empires, mainly sometimes down to the geography in in terms of being able to get goods from one place to another, it’s quite similar in terms of you know why didn’t Asia continue on rising at the time of the silk road etcetera but in Panama canal etc so I find that stuff very fascinating! And I know you’re a music fan you listen to as I understand Indian classical music and potentially other types of music. What when you do sit down like how do you listen to music is it on vinyl is it cd is it you know are you an audiophile or and what types of music and artists are you listening to?
Ajay: Yeah, I have to say thank you for asking that question, music is very dear to me and yes Indian classical music is my first love but I’m also incredibly fond of western classical music, of jazz and these days just out of sheer laziness I tend to use the digital forms of music consumption. So not even CDs and not vinyl because it’s just so easy to use your devices right when you’re walking, when you’re running or cycling, iPhone as the delivery medium so that’s the that’s the preferred medium of consumption for me. But yeah, music is yeah music is very much a first love for me and I think I find I’m able to listen to music when doing certain kinds of work. I’m also able to listen to music in between certain meetings but I find that for the really important strategic things that I do I can’t really listen to music at the same time because it really does soak up some of that brain that energy that you need
Tyson: Yeah, and absolutely fantastic what about when you think of the word successful who’s the first person that comes to mind and why
Ajay: For me I know it sounds like a very conventional answer but for me it’s Steve Jobs for sure. And I say this for the exact reason that he articulated in that famous commencement speech. He is a self-realized person; he connected the dots. Life’s journey is by necessity random I look at my own I started out as a journalist I ended up becoming doing a bachelor’s in semiotics and linguistics, I was doing a PhD in history, from there I became a lawyer and from there I became an entrepreneur. And I first became an entrepreneur in a services company and now a technology company I mean look at the number of turns my life has taken it is completely random. I mean if you don’t understand me, if you don’t know me, my journey is random and I think all our journeys to that extent have an element of randomness in them so to be able to connect those random destinations that we’ve all experienced in our life and to bring them together in a cohesive experience or utterance that for Steve was his version too at apple. That is a divine it’s a sublime moment that for me it’s not even success it’s self-realization.
Tyson: Yeah, I mean I presume you’re talking about the Stanford address where he talks about the three stories? Yeah I mean it’s hard not to tear up on that and that and for those who are watching this and haven’t seen it it’s that that was definitely a speech that changed my life for sure so it’s the Steve Jobs Stanford address I think it’s 2006 or something like that but yeah what an epic speech and what I what one of the things I admired about Steve Jobs is he was an amazing storyteller in the way and everything he did typically was always told around stories in terms of presentations and things like that so you know he was I mean speaking about vulnerability he was pretty vulnerable on that day I imagine. Yeah, excellent what about let me see just a small quick one quick fire so what’s the best purchase you’ve made in the last six months and why?
Ajay: I would have to say it’s the hybrid bicycle that I bought because earlier I was driving riding a mountain bike and mountain bikes are okay if the company that you’re riding with is also kind of coasting along but if you want to ride a bike with a slightly younger person who’s kind of zipping a little faster you need a faster bike. I mean the thing to do of course would have been to buy a roadie but a mountain bike has suddenly increased the distances I can cover it it’s increased the age groups that I can traverse while riding with and it’s definitely changed my mornings…
Tyson: Yeah excellent no I’m a mountain biker too but I can’t go across to the dark side with the with the e-bikes but we have some pretty big hills which I’m probably I think in Delhi they have the same as well around but I curse every time someone goes past me on an e-bike because I’m it’s all about jealousy but I’m definitely…
Ajay: I’m not riding an e-bike I’m riding a hybrid which is a cross between a roadie and a mountain bike it’s still…
Tyson: Okay yeah, I’ve seen those they they’re quite cool the thin tyres but you can go off road on them yeah like cycle cross almost yeah excellent. What about you know the moment when you made that move from becoming an entrepreneur can you describe the conversation that you had in your head where you know on the day like what were you saying to yourself that was like right, I’m gonna go do this? And the internal conversation that you had and you know any anyone else in your family that maybe who were you know either excited or nervous about the decision at the time?
Ajay: Yeah, for me these are two separate moments in my life one is when I started my first company and that’s the transition from working as a lawyer to being an entrepreneur and then the second is I had a very successful exit from my first company – I was fortunate enough to have a very success – and at a relatively young age of 43. So, for me I really did have a fork in the road after that, whether to start the second company so I’m happy to talk about either one tell me which one is more interesting?
Tyson: I’m interested maybe in the first one because I think that’s the bigger leap right in the in the very beginning you know from the stable career to hunting for your lunch so you know what was the conversation you had?
Ajay: I think and this is a very personal response this I think this is also a DNA thing I don’t think that in my case it was about finding an idea or a product or a service solution that so intrigued me that I felt I must pursue this to its logical conclusion. I think in my case there was always a kind of a misfit discomfort type of feeling working as a lawyer in a law firm I always knew somewhere in my mind that I wasn’t happy executing the legal strategy for somebody else’s business vision that one day I wanted to be the owner of the business mission and have somebody else execute on my strategy. That thought process was always there and I think starting almost four years before founding UnitedLex, I was already taking a series of sabbaticals and trying out some micro experiments which were in essence failed experiments but precursors to what happened at UnitedLex. And I think all I really needed to really go over the hump in a very committed way and just quit my job but every time I would return to the safety of the law firm, right? I think what I needed to get over that final hump was either a commitment from an external backer or the promise of capital and the ironic thing is I got the commitment capital commitment from a venture fund to start UnitedLex and within nine days of starting the company they pulled out! So I quit my job I quit my job as a partner in a law firm, I put my life savings at play I was watching those life savings dwindle away within a three month period and the venture capital fund which had committed to us had pulled out and what happened next we went through a moment of truth where we couldn’t meet payroll in the fourth month of starting the company and we had some other kind of disasters happen along the way. It was a small group we were 27 people at the time all of us in India with two folks in the US. One of my co-founders was based in the US and my co-founder in the US stepped up, he gave the company an emergency loan of half a million dollars which tided us through and we in late October got an amazing contract with Hewlett-Packard. Hewlett-Packard had purchased Compaq in 2003 this is the Carly Fiorina days and Compaq and Hewlett Packard were very different cultures. Compaq was a brash go-getting customer acquisition focused culture. Hewlett Packard was very genteel blue-chip old-world California culture so notwithstanding that there was a huge almost 1.2 million contracts that were residing in Compaq setting out of their Houston office that needed to be integrated as a starting point to merge the two companies and to drive that overall cultural integration process. So, we were very fortunate to land them and of course once we got them then the venture capital also returned to the table, but I think had Dan not stepped in at that time with a half a million-dollar loan I don’t know how the story would have turned out.
Tyson: Yeah, I always loved that – just to remember that every big success was close to being a failure like nearly always right like you know you have to go through those to kind of it’s almost like a hustle factor to know that you know to persevere but to also recognize that you know that the success was very nearly a failure. And I think that’s something good to kind of put out there to the audience that you know not to give in and always just find a way to make it work. Maybe speaking of failures like what is you know if you’re thinking about failures you know like what would be one of your favourite failures or you know spectacular failures and the lesson you learnt and why?
Ajay: Yeah, probably for me there is one iconic failure over the last 20 years and the one that really taught me the most and that was, ironically, also at one point my biggest success, and it’s amazing to me how in retrospect what came across as a success later turned out to be the battleground. It was February 2009 UnitedLex had just crossed I think maybe five or six million dollars in revenue and we were able to sell a four-million-dollar contract to what was at that time called CSC and is now called DXE, one of the world’s largest I.T. companies for doing obligation management. CSC at that time was looking for a fairly vanilla support legal service to manage and maintain a repository, electronic repository, of its 430 enterprise clients and they were looking to migrate them from lotus notes into a unified electronic repository. UnitedLex’s role in that was to provide a team of low-to-mid complexity cheap legal resources or low-cost legal resources to help maintain that repository on a go-forward basis. And during conversations with them it emerged that the deeper problem that the organization and their CEO Mike Laurie were trying to solve for was forging a connection between those contracts on the front end and the delivery processes on the back end. The phrase that was floating around at CSC at that time – coined by mike himself – was contract education and he was saying look we’ve got great sales people who empathize with the customer, their unique operating history, understand what their problems are and have sold a very custom deal to win that business but on the back end our delivery teams are trying to standardize and industrialize our delivery processes across all customers and the specificity of our commitments to any individual customer gets obscured as a result, that is where we are falling down missing our commitments and I think that’s when the lightning bolt hit that what we should really be doing is not just contract management but quote unquote obligation management. Lex Base is the product that emerged in 2009 it was almost a four million as I said four million plus dollar contract it transformed the fortunes of the company, spurred our series B financing and the explosive growth that flowed from it. And then over the next two years there was an intense debate at the board level at UnitedLex whether we should invest more in Lex Base or we should more invest more on the litigation side of the fence. It’s a debate that I lost – I pushed for Lex Base but ultimately, I have to, looking back I have to realize apart from CSC and maybe a few other clients that product itself did not get the kind of traction at the time. I’m sure if the product had got a great attraction the board might have taken a more positive view of investing more in that direction and I think that is you know talking about something that we touched on earlier that is what I got a chance to reflect on after my exit from UnitedLex so in May 2011 when I exited, and I was fortunate enough to be taken as an entrepreneur in residence at Stanford University, the time that I spent at Stanford allowed me to understand the two big mistakes that we had made in architecting Lex Base. The problem is correct there are up contracts and they do contain obligations that’s absolutely a correct problem but it’s a two-sided problem. It’s a problem both for the supplier and for the buyer and really what you should be looking at is which side of the fence should I begin the journey on? There are only a few hundred mega-suppliers but there are tens of thousands of buyers and the information asymmetry is all loaded in favour of the supplier after the deal gets signed because the people belong to them, the systems belong to them, and the information sits inside them. And it’s the buyer that’s groping in the dark dependent on the supplier, so we were simply targeting the wrong end of the landscape. Always ask yourself who even – if you identify a problem – who is it that you should be selling to? Should it be selling in this case to the supplier or the buyer? And that for me was like a big hallelujah moment and the second I think is yes there is contracts and yes there is obligations and they do add up to a problem but is the problem wide enough to really make an impact or do we need to also solve for service levels? Do we need to get all the way to the bottom line and start auditing the invoices? Do we also need to map the relationship, the issues actions and claims? So the width or I think in in software design people used to call it the five-minute rule. What are people doing before they use your software and what are they doing after they use your software and is your solution broad enough or should it be a little bit broader? For me those were the two big learnings that came out of the time that I spent at Stanford and does go into the heart of the Sirion product and that’s how it’s architected today. So for me and I think there’s a third in associated learning and that is how much manual effort it was taking to read these contracts with the low-cost legal personnel in places like India and in Richmond and so on and why some of that information extraction could not be automated through artificial intelligence? So these I think these realizations really lie at the heart of the Sirion journey for me and I’m so very grateful to life for offering me that failure.
Tyson: Yeah yes super interesting point and I guess I mean I know AI’s at the heart of Sirion and you’re preaching to the converted in terms of everything that I see in terms of a lot of your competitors essentially have spent a good deal of time and effort creating functionality at the at the creation part of a contract, but you know you’re 100 right the in-life contract management part is where you probably truly add value to the wider business outside the legal team. And I completely understand that there’s a whole lot of effort within legal to draft a contract, negotiate a contract, get it signed etc but you know it’s a classic case of most organizations at the moment you know contracts get signed and then the information goes to die and in some repository somewhere and so there’s so much value left on the table. So, you know it’s really great to see that essentially that’s your true north you know in terms of those three components because I think the first component the creation is really becoming table stakes now. Whereas the in life and driving the value and the obligations and the value that’s left on the table, is probably something that’s going to set you apart that’s for sure. Okay I’m just switching up again a little bit you know second company Ajay very successful now what advice would you give your 20-year-old self coming in?
Ajay: That’s an easy one: don’t sweat the small stuff. Don’t sweat the small stuff, figure out what really matters, focus on that. If you were to spend a few minutes, ignoring a few of the smaller problems but focusing on areas where your team should prioritize and spend their own energy you would be so much more effective.
Tyson: Yeah, do you think you would have made the jump earlier in your career to be an entrepreneur or you in in hindsight you thought the timing was right?
Ajay: I think for me I mean for everyone it’s a very personal decision but for me it absolutely was the right time. I think different people mature and in different ways and I think for me to have the confidence that the different aspects of creating and running a company are all manageable challenges it arrived in a particular way at a particular time. I think for the bulk of my working career prior to starting UnitedLex I was a law firm creation right, working in small yes the law firms are very big and if you get to the leadership level you probably get exposure to how large enterprise functions, but for most lawyers who are navigating that journey they’re operating in small teams of extremely high performance, extremely high knowledge density. They have no idea of what they support, in fact if you look at most lawyers, they’re not very charitable towards the support services that keep them going whether it’s document generation or it’s ID or any other kind of support that they receive. And I think for me that experience of understanding how these support functions need to be set up how they need to be sustained and respected, and how actually it’s very doable was the enabling insight that enabled me and I think the experience of the failures between 2002 and 2006 – those little sabbaticals that I took that didn’t really go anywhere, those kind of gave me the confidence that the support functions the enabling aspects of setting up a company are actually very manageable. It’s not it’s not rocket science.
Tyson: Yeah, excellent advice and I’d be remiss if I didn’t ask two questions so first of all what does Sirion mean and where does the name come from? And secondly you know what’s coming up for Sirion and what’s on the horizon?
Ajay: Yeah, so Sirion is a Tolkien reference from the Lord of the Rings it refers to a body of water in Middle Earth that is dammed. The water has no place to go till the light from the Valentia frees up and creates a channel and so Sirion in Tolkien can mean either that body of water or it can mean the flow of water and for us the freeing up of that damned water is very similar to the flow of data. It’s also very similar to the flow of data that’s released once you shine the artificial intelligence on the contract so it’s very geeky very Tolkien reference.
Tyson: Yeah, I’m ashamed as an Anzac and a big Peter Jackson fan I don’t know it already but yeah and what about the horizon?
Ajay: I think for us the key challenge Tyson in the next three years is extending the impact that artificial intelligence has brought to static objects in contracting, which are legacy executed contracts to moving object, which are dynamic negotiating contracts. I think the phrase that’s getting bandied around and there are lots of interesting little companies that have come up in the last two years to tackle this problem is called autonomous contracting. Can we use the same types of artificial intelligence to automatically diagnose third-party red lines, contain and to autonomously redline them without human assistance? It is the ultimate dream that is a huge direction in which the CLM journey will gravitate. And then I think to the point that you made earlier, that’s on the contract creation and the storage side of the fence, a really big part of it will be the value realization that flows after signature. So I think for us that was where we began the company, we used a whole bunch of technologies along the way to drive the value realization journey and that remains an area of huge R&D for us because we know as today two thirds of CLM buyers are asking the question, help me find my contracts, store them in one central location in the repository. About a quarter of them are saying help me streamline and automate my contract approval processes. So, between that 67 and 25 that’s about 92 percent of the CLM marketplace worldwide and only about eight or ten percent are the runners the advanced segment the mature segment of the CLM landscape were saying look I know the basics I know where my contracts I know how to create them help me to realize the value to operationalize the commitments inside those contracts. And I think to your earlier point Tyson that eight or ten percent is definitely going to expand as more and more companies figure out how to meet their basic appetites of storage and search ability and retrievability. Inevitably they will move into more advanced directions of autonomous contracting and value realization and that is where the Sirion product is.
Tyson: Yeah no really exciting space I think as someone has been on the front line of implementing CLM products for a number of years one of the key things that brings to mind when you talk about that is obviously that requires some deep integration into kind of tools that are not you know outside of legal you know upstream downstream and I know everyone’s working towards you know open APIs and things like that. I mean what do you think is still the big challenge in terms of normalizing the data the flows the and the integration because that’s to me seems like still the clunkiest part of implementing these tools?
Ajay: Absolutely Tyson absolutely you really hit a very important point that’s become a fourth line in a sense between the two broad CLM clusters that you see in the market today. The mid-market cluster who in a sense have failed to address that problem or who are not focusing on these problems of integration and interoperability, and the enterprise cluster which have no choice but to confront these problems because their clients are giant enterprises. And I think for those companies the ones that are operating in the large enterprise segment and have large global scaled clients are talking to p2p to CRM to productivity tools like Microsoft word or outlook, unless you do that unless you situate the CLM product deeply within the enterprise ecosystem, tech ecosystem, it’s not going to get the adoption that will drive the value intended value for the client. So, this is table stakes and I think this is already starting to become a battleground within even the enterprise segment because some companies do it better and more seamlessly than others and you’re absolutely right it’s not just about designing APIs, it’s about creating native experiences. I think the phrase that is very likely to be a dominant phrase in CLM in the enterprise segment in the next three years is going to be around the customer experience.
Tyson: Yeah, no I agree I agree especially as we try and drive bigger adoption… all right so the final question I have for you, and I’m sad that it’s ending, but I’d really love to know if you were to pick a theme song what would be your theme song and why?
Ajay: For me again going back to classical music which I love, probably if I had to pick a theme song it would probably be from Beethoven’s ninth symphony – the ode to joy. And for me which is you know written by Goethe and for me the reason I would pick that as my theme song is because it really encapsulates the end of a process where you confront something you see the you see the solution you see the thesis, the antithesis, and at the end of the day you’re able, the ode to joy is that moment when you’ve understood what that journey was about, what that solution finally means. You know for me if you look at my own journey in life it has been from going from selling solutions at UnitedLex to selling products at Sirion and if you think about, think about it very carefully a services company’s basic posture to a client is no matter what your problem, I’ve got a solution for it. Whereas a product company is the exact opposite they say we solve and we handle this particular problem and that alone right and they’re very confident about saying no we don’t do that problem you should go and get this other kind of technology that handles that kind of problem. So, this song for me this ode to joy that is the moment when you realize what you were specifically as an individual you know taking that point that we made about comparative advantage and core competency the joy in that song for me is understanding who you are and what your product should be.
Tyson: Yeah, excellent well thank you so much really appreciate it what wonderful talk and great insights!