Back To The Future

As life becomes more digitized, we often find more efficiency in doing things on our mobile devices. While it’s true that there are negative aspects of Digitization, life is constantly evolving and it doesn’t help to complain about losing certain values we had in the pre-smartphone era.

The best thing to do is to adjust and to make the best personal use of the technology we have available today. The world is moving fast and you don’t want to be left behind… at least I don’t want to.

Think about all the activities that have been digitized: Communication, Writing, Payments, Analytics, and even Driving will be automated soon — to name a few areas. Today you can simply tell Siri to write and send an email without pressing anything on your iPhone. Or you just hold your finger on your iPhone to pay at the store.

Or you take a Lyft and the payment happens automatically “in the back.” Or in the business space — Dataminr will alert you on something happening somewhere, minutes before you hear it anywhere in the news, which is driven by its proprietary tweet analytics software. And soon you will be able to hold up your Apple Watch and tell your Tesla to come pick you up at the entrance of the mall… sound familiar? (Disclosure: GSV owns shares in Lyft, Tesla, Dataminr)

One company that is disrupting Printers and Scanners and digitizes the signature process is DocuSign. Founded in 2003, it is quite old for being a disruptive company, but its timing was years ahead of its prime time opportunity. DocuSign lets users sign documents directly on their computers, tablets or smartphones, and eliminates the ridiculous process of printing, signing, scanning, and uploading.

It used to take five to ten minutes to get done what DocuSign let’s you do in a few clicks and seconds. We already consume most if not all content digitally, and with the addition of digital signatures, printing becomes obsolete. I am not sure why any modern business would need to have a printer or scanner at the office, but many still do to feel “safe” I guess. I personally have not used paper in years, and think that it will disappear from the office environment soon.

DocuSign has emerged as a leader in the e-signature space and is also competing against and disrupting Adobe, which acquired EchoSign in 2011. DocuSign has grown to over $1.6 billion in value, with over 50 million customers, and was growing in the triple digits for the past few years.

Last week, DocuSign announced another round of funding, likely the last one before its IPO, with $115 million of fresh capital from Japanese based NTT Finance, Mitsui, and Recruit Holdings. Earlier investors include Accel, Kleiner Perkins, Google Ventures, and Ignition.

DocuSign’s CEO Keith Krach said, “Each of them (the new investors) are critically important in helping DocuSign launch into the Japanese market and to bring The Global Standard for Digital Transaction Management to Japan.” DocuSign is an interesting company to watch for as it has a large, untapped opportunity outside of the typical Silicon Valley business, and also outside of the U.S. in general. While its software is used in a niche space, it will have the opportunity to evolve into other applications as it grows it customer base.

Another interesting deal last week — Stockholm-based Truecaller raised $60 million from Atomico Ventures, Kleiner Perkins and existing investor Sequoia. Truecaller has created a collaborative mobile phone directory that lets users search for numbers or names, to control who can call and also who to block.

The collaborative nature also serves as a filter for unwanted spam callers. Once a number is flagged as possible spam by one person, it appears as a warning on other members’ screens. Additionally, Truecaller syncs your contacts from major social networks (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+) and uploads any missing numbers to your Contacts list.

The Nordics, specifically Sweden, are an amazing place for innovation and we’ve seen multiple billion dollar companies being created there over the past several years. With relatively small populations — Sweden 9.6M, Denmark 5.6M, Finland 5.5M and Norway 5.1M — the Innovation+Success to Population ratio is quite impressive. We’ve been long-time admirers of Scandinavian startups and continue to be highly focused on that part of the “Global Silicon Valley.”

As published in this week’s A 2 Apple:

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