Afternoon Coffee: Icertis raises $80 million in funding; New unemployment claims fall; EU supply chain faces fraudulent COVID-19 vaccines

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Icertis, a contract lifecycle management solution provider, announced an $80 million round of funding on Thursday, bringing its valuation to over $2.8 billion.

According to a press release, the series F round was led by existing investor B Capital Group, with participation from Greycroft, Meritech Capital Partners, Premji Invest, PSP Growth and e.ventures. The CLM company has now raised over $280 million, and the current funding nearly triples its valuation after its most recent round of funding in July 2019. Icertis said it will use this latest funding to invest in its artificial intelligence (AI) and blockchain development, expanding sales and marketing, and building its global partner network.

Nick Heinzmann, Spend Matters' research analyst for CLM, put the deal into perspective with current events.

"It's no surprise in a year that required rapid pivots and agile risk management at businesses of all types that contract lifecycle management became a major investment priority. But perhaps more than any other vendor, Icertis was uniquely positioned to absorb and help customers find opportunities in these challenges," Heinzmann said.

"Icertis represents far more than 'check the box' functionality in CLM. It is at its core designed to transform the contract from a mere legal artifact to a true source of commercial intelligence. The vendor continues to hold the highest functionality scores in our CLM SolutionMap — not just because it enables faster and better contract standardization but because it also proactively identifies the risks of a contract's underlying obligations, because it enables granular tracking of performance against those obligations, and because it continues to expand the boundaries of CLM to encompass adjacent areas like sourcing and supplier management. And with an eye-watering Series F funding round now closed, we only expect to be further impressed by Icertis' pace of innovation.”

Number of Americans seeking full-time unemployment benefits falls to 712,000

The US Labor Department reported Thursday that the number of Americans seeking full-time unemployment benefits fell to 712,000, the lowest total since early November, according to the Associated Press.

Meanwhile, 4.1 million Americans are receiving traditional state unemployment benefits. The numbers indicate that fewer employers are cutting jobs amid a decline in confirmed coronavirus cases and point to an improving economy. The job market has been slowly strengthening, but 9.6 million jobs remain lost to the pandemic that shuttered the economy a year ago, the AP said. The unemployment rate for February was 6.2%, on par with the rate for January too.

One bright spot in the economy was reinforced Wednesday when Congress approved a $1.9 trillion Covid relief bill that will give $1,400 payments to most adults and extend $300 weekly unemployment benefits, the article said. Economists suggest that a combination of federal aid, the rising pace of vaccines, low borrowing rates and increasing willingness of consumers to spend will help unleash a robust economic recovery this year.

“These are welcome policies, but they are still temporary relief,” AnnElizabeth Konkel, an economist at the Indeed Hiring Lab, told the AP. “To fully heal the labor market, the public health situation must be under control. Coronavirus started this mess and continues to cause massive economic damage on a daily basis.”

EU’s mass vaccination effort threatened by fraudulent COVID-19 vaccines

A new supply chain hurdle is threatening the European Union’s mass vaccination effort: fraudulent COVID-19 vaccines coming from groups posing as intermediaries of drug companies, according to Vice World News.

The European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) previously reported that up to a billion fake vaccines have been offered to EU countries. Experts warned that the black market for fake vaccines or Covid test certificates in the EU will grow if the vaccination program continues its slower rollout across the region, the article said.

“An economic crisis, in combination with the public health crisis, as we have it at the moment, is perfect for organized crime,” Jan Op Gen Oorth, a spokesperson at the bloc’s law enforcement agency Europol, told Vice.

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