Afternoon Coffee: Tradeshift restructuring; Is ‘New Law’ like Atrium disrupting itself?; U.S. won’t label China a currency manipulator; Shelby Group funding

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Tradeshift, a provider known for its network, supply chain payment offerings and marketplaces, announced a $240 million funding round in equity and debt that has the company restructuring and setting itself on “a direct path to profitability in the near future,” the announcement said.

CEO Christian Lanng spoke with Spend Matters and said this marks a time for refocusing on high-value efforts and restructuring the company, which was founded in 2010. “It's been a very long journey to get critical mass. It actually doesn't feel this long today. Ten years is quick in our space,” he said.

In the full interview, Lanng discusses head count, strategy and the future of the payments market. Read all the insights here.

Atrium chooses tech over lawyers

The legal media site Law.com has reported that Atrium, an alternative legal services provider (ALSP), is “reportedly shedding much of its legal workforce.” In recent years, the traditional legal services industry supply side (aka “Big Law”) has been subjected to disruptive forces (“New Law”) in the form technology and ALSPs. See our three-part series, Cutting Big Law Down to Size: New Alternatives for Legal Services Procurement, for further insight into these developments.

Atrium, based in Silicon Valley, was founded in 2017 and consisted of two entities, a law firm and a legal software company. The company’s website states: “We are rethinking and refining how services are packaged and priced so that legal spend is clear, transparent and predictable for start-up legal budgets. We hire experienced start-up lawyers so that clients know our professionals are attuned to their needs.”

The plan seems to have changed — perhaps, not coincidentally — after “the company raised $65 million in September 2018 from Silicon Valley heavyweight Andreessen Horowitz, along with General Catalyst, YC Continuity Fund and Sound Ventures,” according to Law.com.

Now, Atrium “will focus primarily on tech tools it developed for lawyers and law firm clients,” the media site Axios reported. “Even lawyers aren't immune to the unpredictability of working for a start-up — and the appeal of generating high margins from selling software instead of human services.”

In a draft announcement of the changes, Axios also stated, “CEO Justin Kan writes that the growth and success of Atrium's legal services business ‘wasn't enough.’ "

Atrium said, according to Axios, “that only a small number of its lawyers will remain at the firm to work with clients on complex issues and with a network of outside law firms to which it will refer clients.” The company also said “that it's giving laid-off lawyers the option to join this network of outside lawyers.”

Atrium will continue to provide legal services — now almost exclusively through its network of contingents. It has also signaled that it will be expanding into related, non-legal consulting services.

Apparently, “New Law” has not yet reached a new equilibrium yet, particularly in terms of the balance between human expert services and technology like AI and machine learning.

U.S. Treasury reverses decision to designate China as currency manipulator

Reuters reports that China’s yuan climbed to its highest level since July on Tuesday following the U.S. Treasury Department decision to reverse its decision in August to designate China as a currency manipulator. The announcement came as Chinese Vice Premier Liu He arrived in Washington ahead of Wednesday’s signing of a preliminary U.S.-China trade agreement aimed at easing tensions between the two countries.

Shelby Group adds funding

The procurement consulting firm The Shelby Group announced an infusion of funds from WestView Capital Partners, a Boston-based private equity firm. No dollar figure was mentioned, but the announcement said “CEO John Dreyer and Executive Vice President Jim Kandilas will continue to lead the company and maintain a significant ownership stake.”

Dreyer said the vast digital transformation of procurement is fueling its consulting and implementation services.

“In order to meet this challenge, we invested over a year seeking a partner that would share our vision and provide the resources to meet this market influx,” Dreyer said in the announcement. “We are pleased to announce we have found that partner in the WestView Capital team.”

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