Portfolio April 30 2019

Butternut Box Raises £15m

You’ve probably heard of HelloFresh-style businesses where you are given tailored ingredients for your meals. Well now the concept has come, literally, to dog food. Butternut Box is a London startup now bringing tailored, delivered meals to British dogs. It’s aiming at dog owners who want high-quality ingredients put into meals for their precious pooches. The company is led by Goldman Sachs alumni Kevin Glynn and David Nolan (aged 27 and 30 respectively), and is now announcing a £1 million Seed round of investment from a leading London early stage investor, Passion Capital. Estimates for dog and cat food snacks in the UK is currently £3.1 billion per annum, but only a tiny minority of these products are cooked fresh. Plus, only two companies dominate an estimated 77% of the UK pet food market. However, they are not alone, competing with Lily’s Kitchen, Tails.com and Natural Instinct for this lucrative new market. That said, they say that unlike other brands, their proprietary algorithm identifies how many kcals each individual dog needs on a daily basis. They then remove the hassle by pre-portioning this kcal amount into daily servings. They even taste test all their food – with humans. Glynn says “Pet owners are left choosing their dog food in an aisle cluttered with washing powder and bin bags and dominated by a few unhealthy choices. Butternut Box  makes it easy and convenient to ensure dogs get the very best diet tailored for each individual.” They appear to be pushing at an open door. Just as in humans, obesity and related issues are said to be costing British dog owners over £200 million in vet’s fees. Overfeeding, and unhealthy food is leading to obesity. But Butternut Box’s algorithms might be one answer. Nolan says: “We know their age, weight, breed, activity levels and body condition. With this information, we can develop meals that meet the dog’s specific needs.” Meet the Quantified Dog. Why create this tailored approach? Well, a scientific study found that dogs who were fed a natural, home-made diet had a longer life capacity than those dogs who were fed industrial canned products. The difference which is mentioned in the study between those two diets is three years, a long time in dog years. After starting out in a family kitchen, with daily early morning trips to London’s Smithfield meat market, Butternut Box is now based in a kitchen in West London and sources all its meat direct in Ireland and Britain. So far it’s cooked over 250,000 individual meals since it launched in April 2016.

Portfolio March 21 2019

UnitedLex embraces legal AI with Seal Software deployment

Global legal services business, UnitedLex, is making use of legal AI technology provided by Seal Software, in what is a significant change of heart for a business that previously had a longstanding scepticism for such applications. The move is significant on multiple levels, one of which is that UnitedLex now has a huge private equity fund, CVC Capital Partners, as a majority owner which believes the enterprise legal group has ‘a multi-billion-dollar opportunity ahead’ according to comments from Siddharth Patel, Senior Managing Director at CVC at the time of the investment last year. It’s also a major additional validation of Seal – not that it really needed one given its long-running success at selling its legal AI review tech into the world’s largest companies. But, still, when a legal AI sceptic converts to a believer it’s always great to see.   The change of heart was explained to Artificial Lawyer by Dan Reed, CEO of the rapidly expanding UnitedLex, which formed back in 2006 and now takes on day to day legal matters for many of the world’s corporates at a level that is now in the hundreds of millions of dollars. Reed, who is extremely bullish about UnitedLex’s future growth prospects and business model, which includes working in partnership with law firms such as LeClair Ryan in the US, said: ‘We have a tech lab so we can test the solutions, because we want to make sure our clients are getting the best solutions.’ ‘We looked at several AI solutions and we believe that Seal is the only one that works for us. We are using Seal Software currently on client matters and it is a part of our delivery arm.’ Reed added that he expects to see greater use of this type of tool in the future. ‘We will see much more maturity [in AI tech],’ he added. Now, the words above may seem quite normal. You’ve all read clients of legal AI companies singing their praises before. What’s different here is that Reed and UnitedLex in general had until quite recently been very sceptical about AI tools – primarily because they didn’t believe they could really be of significant use. Reed noted that they had looked at Seal in the past and not felt moved to use it. But, he added, that after the merger with Apogee Legal last summer things changed. Prior to the merger Apogee and Seal had been working closely together and Apogee had been providing some of the NLP ‘toolkits’ for doc analysis that Seal’s corporate clients were using. Reed added that the interface also improved following the combination of the two companies and that had helped as well. He also stressed that more broadly he is still quite sceptical about the idea that lawyers’ working practices at the moment are being radically changed by technology. ‘The challenge is that it is generally an aspiration when it comes to tech. In the legal sector people are excited by e-signatures,’ he noted with some amusement. Is this a big deal? Yes. Because it shows: first, that large corporates want review work to be augmented with technology such as Seal’s legal AI capabilities, and secondly, that UnitedLex are now part of the ‘AI Users Club’ – a steadily growing family of law firms and legal businesses around the world. They also join the good company of several others working in the same segment of the market, including the smaller, but rapidly expanding Elevate, which bought out legal AI company LexPredict last year. Is this going to drive radical change within UnitedLex? Probably not in the short to medium term. They’re a big organisation with offices around the world, helping a multitude of clients, that includes the likes of GE. Seal may however – one would guess – steadily see its use level rise and spread, especially as more and more corporates demand rapid and effective tech-led review and contract analysis.

Portfolio March 20 2019

New Searchmetrics lighthouse ranking factors reports deliver custom insights for search success

Searchmetrics is combining insights from Google Lighthouse with its own extensive search data to give SEO professionals a fully-customized, comprehensive report highlighting the Google ranking factors that matter most to their specific market. Each Lighthouse Ranking Factors report comes complete with concrete recommendations for improving search performance based on an analysis of how a site compares with top ranking competitors. “This is so much more than just a simple SEO audit for your website,” explains Jordan Koene, CEO of Searchmetrics Inc.. “We take your keyword list and use Google‘s Lighthouse data − integrated with our data − to come up with an in-depth analysis of Lighthouse ranking factors and issues that are critical for your market. This helps us pinpoint a list of tailored recommendations to help you outperform your competition.” To compile the reports Searchmetrics first evaluates each customer’s web pages using the Google Lighthouse open source tool. This provides real-time metrics and insights in areas such as technical performance (including speed-related factors), accessibility and SEO performance. To this Searchmetrics adds in-depth analysis drawn from its own ranking factors data, courtesy of its continuously updated global search database. Using each customer‘s unique keyword set, the company generates a detailed breakdown of how the customer’s website performs against thousands of others. What are the most important ranking factors in that market segment? How does the customer’s site rate in those areas? And how can it improve? After having pulled the Lighthouse data and combined it with Searchmetrics ranking data, the results are interpreted and analyzed by search and digital marketing experts from the Searchmetrics Digital Strategies Group. They clearly explain the metrics, filter the most relevant factors and outline the key steps that will drive improvements. “Aimed at in-house SEO teams and agency professionals, Lighthouse Ranking Factors reports take the time and effort out of the data collection and analysis that is now essential for developing a next-generation search strategy and metrics,” explains Jordan. “Our experts sift through the data, identify the specific ranking factors that are important to the market you want to address and give you a check-list of key steps that your team can start working on right away.” Customers are required to provide a list of up to 1,000 top keywords that defines their market. Searchmetrics will gather the data, perform an in-depth analysis and provide a comprehensive report detailing key metrics, insights and recommendations, complete with a management summary.

Portfolio March 20 2019

FIA World Rally Championship expands coverage capabilities using LiveU HEVC technologies across 10 events in 2019

Following on from a very successful test of LiveU's technology at the ADAC Rallye Deutschland in Germany last August, WRC Promoter GmbH, the company that's responsible for all commercial aspects of the FIA World Rally Championship, has signed up to use LiveU's technology across 10 rallies this year. LiveU has already helped bring enhanced coverage of Rallye Monte-Carlo and Rally Sweden to viewers in 2019, with another eight events also set to benefit. They include: Tour de Corse, Rally de Portugal, Rally Italia Sardegna, Rally Finland, ADAC Rallye Deutschland, Rally Turkey, Wales Rally GB and Rally RACC Catalunya - Rally de España. Florian Ruth, Director of Content and Production, WRC Promoter, said, "We are using three LU600 HEVC-equipped units with associated LiveU server technology and LiveU Central for overall management. HEVC is very important for us to significantly reduce bandwidth and LiveU has fitted smoothly into our production workflows. Following on from the initial test last year, WRC Promoter has worked closely with LiveU to fully understand how to maximize the quality and the coverage. Ruth highlights the fact that at each event so far, they have continued this optimisation process, with the next rally - Tour de Corse - set to be the first time that the LU600s have been involved in testing camera positions in advance of the event. Signals are sent - both live and files using store and forward - to the WRC TV production unit where the LiveU servers are situated, normally in the event Service Park, with the content then pulled into the edit suite as required. Rally stages are spread up to 250 km around the Service Park at each event. Ruth said, "We are using LiveU in conjunction with our RF and satellite workflow, allowing us to significantly expand our coverage without having to worry about access to certain parts of events or rely on motorcycles to deliver the additional captured footage to us. In order to continue to fully engage existing viewers and to attract new audiences, we constantly need to innovate. Using LiveU is allowing us to think differently and to bring a fresh level of dynamism to our content as we can use locations at each event that simply weren't possible previously. LiveU will also be able to deliver content directly to our Production Hub as we begin to move to remote production." 2018 saw The FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) reach its best ever global airtime figure of 14,208 hours over last season's 13 rounds, according to Nielsen Research. The WRC, recognised by the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA), has a long and celebrated history, with 14 rallies around the world forming the 2019 series. WRC Promoter handles all the TV production, including all the broadcast formats, as well as the marketing of the series and sponsorship rights. It also works to increase the number of participants and explores new venues for the calendar. Zion Eilam, Regional VP Sales (EMEA), LiveU, said, "We have worked very closely with WRC Promoter over the past few months to truly understand the considerable contribution challenges that they face and how we are able to work together to create new opportunities for them. We are very pleased that we've been chosen as a key part of their future development."

Portfolio March 20 2019

SoundCloud inks exclusive ad sales deal with Southern Cross Austereo in Austalia

SoundCloud is making huge strides in its advertising sales reach around the world. The streaming platform has entered into an exclusive advertising partnership with Southern Cross Austereo (SCA) – Australia’s biggest entertainment company which is able to reach more than 95% of the Australian population through its radio, television and digital assets. SoundCloud’s audio and video inventory will be available programmatically and directly, exclusively through SCA beginning April 1. SCA owns 78 radio stations plus another seven digital radio stations across metropolitan and regional Australia. It also represents 34 regional radio stations and broadcasts 86 free to air TV signals across regional Australia with Nine Network, Seven Network and Network Tens programming. The move in Australia follows the news of SoundCloud’s exclusive sales partnership with Global owned Dax in the UK in 2018, which was expanded to include Canada earlier this month. SoundCloud’s partnership with SCA also comes less than two years after the company closed its Australian office, as first reported by AdNews in July 2017. “With SCA as our dedictaed partner, we'll be able to leverage their incvredible reach and leading sales support team as we continue to grow our service in Australia.” Michael Weissman, SoundCloud “Australia is a key market for SoundCloud. We look forward to offering advertisers more opportunities to reach our audience of tastemakers who are driving what’s next in music culture,” said Michael Weissman, Chief Operating Officer, SoundCloud. “With SCA as our dedicated partner, we’ll be able to leverage their incredible reach and leading sales support team as we continue to grow our service in Australia.” “The partnership with SoundCloud will enhance SCA's ability to provide advertisers with extraordinary reach in the digital audio space" Brian Gallagher, SCA Brian Gallagher, Chief Sales Officer at SCA, added: “The partnership with SoundCloud will enhance SCA’s ability to provide advertisers with extraordinary reach in the digital audio space. “We are looking forward to bringing real scale to the digital audio marketplace with our combined offering.”Music