Shake, a startup aiming to make it easy to reach legally binding agreements with help from your smartphone, is announcing that it has raised $3 million in funding.
Companies like LegalZoom have already brought legal documents online, but when I met with CEO and founder Abe Geiger earlier this year, he suggested that Shake is the next step, bringing the process to mobile and making it much more comprehensible.
“Documents themselves are confusing,” Geiger said. “People don’t understand what they’re signing.”
With Shake, on the other hand, you answer plain English questions about the deal that you’re trying to reach, and the app will generate a relatively easy-to-understand contract that you and the other relevant parties can sign — right now the app offers agreements related to freelancing, confidentiality, buying/selling, renting, and loaning money. *Users can also create their own.)
For example, if I wanted to make a freelance writing agreement with another publication, the Shake iPhone app asks me about things like the deadline, the length of the proposed article, and whether there’s a kill fee. I just went through the process and it felt pretty thorough while only taking a few minutes. And at the end of it I had a contract that included some boilerplate legalese (“If either party materially breaches this agreement, the non-breaching party may terminate the agreement …”), but was still comprehensible and of manageable length.
Geiger suggested that the reason contracts are often so long and incomprehensible is that lawyers feel compelled to add lots of unnecessary verbiage to cover unlikely edge cases, which usually isn’t necessary for these kinds of simple agreements. Now, he isn’t a lawyer himself, but he said he drew on advice from lawyers (including his wife) in building the app, Shake does have its own chief legal officer.
Creating agreements is free, and Geiger said he eventually plans to make money by adding premium features.
Shake first launched on the iPhone two months ago. It has since been downloaded 80,000 times and been used to create and sign $15 million worth of legal agreements, the company says.
The funding was led by SoftBank Capital with participation from existing investor RRE Ventures and new investors BoxGroup, ENIAC Ventures, Mesa+, WGI Group, and Patrick Keane. SoftBank’s Jordy Levy is joining Shake’s board of directors.
In an emailed statement, Shake board member (and president and COO of BuzzFeed) Jon Steinberg said, “Shake combines the best of the old and the new in coming to an agreement: plain language everyone understands but instead of signing on a napkin you use your phone. Shake really is the modern handshake.”