Five on Friday: Deals, Details and DocuSign
Featuring ABA, GoCardless, Calm App, IBM and Red Hat
In this week’s edition of Five on Friday, the ABA Journal looks at different types of law firm subscriptions, DocuSign expands its payment options in Europe by teaming up with GoCardless, the Calm App hits $150 million in annual recurring revenue, WarnerMedia reveals additional details about its forthcoming streaming subscription service, and the IBM and Red Hat acquisition is complete, as the two tech companies seal the deal.
Law Firm Subscriptions Growing in Popularity
To boost profitability and grow sustainable revenue, law firms are getting into the subscription business, reports Danielle Braff for the American Bar Association Journal. Citing a 2019 Altman Weil “Law Firms in Transition” survey, Braff notes that law firms are looking at models outside of the traditional hourly rate model.
According to the survey, 64.3% of law firms are working with clients on creative fee options (p. 41). This is particularly true for firms with 250 or more lawyers where 85.6% of survey respondents say they collaborate with clients on alternative fee schedules. Firms with fewer than 250 lawyers said they do this 56.8% of the time.
Law firms are addressing preferences for alternatives. Survey results show the following pricing tactics were the most effective in improving firm performance significantly (p.42):
- Assigning pricing responsibilities to a specific staff person – 52.5%
- Incorporating pricing in all planning efforts – 50.7%
- Identifying each client’s unique pricing preferences – 43.8%
- Collaborating with clients on creative alternative fee options – 38.0%
For some law firms, the subscription model – referred to as lawyer-on-retainer, legal counsel services or toll bridge agreements – is replacing more traditional pricing. In these situations, clients pay a consistent monthly or yearly fee in exchange for legal services rather than an hourly rate. Braff said these types of arrangements are usually utilized by business or corporate clients who need services on an ongoing basis. There are some, however, who use it for one-time services like divorces, estate planning and brand and business development attorneys.
Some companies, like Rocket Lawyer, offer premium memberships for $39.99 a month, following a free seven-day trial OR a per-document, per-phone call cost. Legal Shield offers subscription plans for individuals, small businesses and commercial drivers, starting at $24.95 a month (in Washington state).
For more information on the different types of law firm subscriptions and the growing need for affordable legal services and law firm sustainability, read Braff’s article, “One Size Does Not Fit All: Law Firm Subscription Plans Come in All Shapes and Sizes,” at ABAJournal.com.
DocuSign and GoCardless Team Up to Power Global Subscription Payments
Go big or go home! DocuSign, a leading electronic signature solution, has teamed up with GoCardless, a recurring payment solutions provider, to power global subscription payments. As a result of the partnership, DocuSign customers can use GoCardless as another payment solution option, giving customers alternatives beyond debit and credit cards and PayPal.
“We want our global customers to have access to simple and easy payment methods when purchasing DocuSign,” said Robin Joy, SVP of Digital, Demand & Web Sales at DocuSign, in a news release. “We’re delighted to be working with GoCardless to offer Bank Debit as a payment option throughout the UK and Europe, to ensure customers are able to complete quick and easy transactions with DocuSign.”
Hiroki Takeuchi, CEO of GoCardless, is also pleased with the new partnership.
“GoCardless' global platform provides a new way for businesses to collect internationally – one which meets changing payer preferences and saves businesses time, hassle and money,” said Takeuchi. “Historical payment options designed for ecommerce are just not fit for purpose when it comes to collecting recurring revenue – and a binary choice between cards and PayPal can be a blocker on growth. Businesses are realizing that there is a better way to solve their recurring payment needs.”
In the first phase of the company’s rollout, DocuSign said a “significant portion” of its new European customers have opted to try GoCardless where it was an option.
Staying Calm Really Does Pay Off – if You Are the Calm App
It turns out that staying calm really does pay off…at least if you work for or invest in Calm, the #1 mobile app for meditation and sleep and Apple’s 2017 App of the Year. For $59.99 a year, or $399.99 for a “forever” subscription plan, premium subscribers get access to 100+ guided meditations that address a variety of issues, a library of Sleep Stories, exclusive music, Calm masterclasses, an original Daily Calm daily and access to all Calm Body programs. Can more than 700,000 five-star reviews be wrong?
Not if Calm’s financials are any indication. The company is currently valued at more than $1 billion. According to Pulse 2.0, Calm has more than 2 million paid subscribers and 50 million downloads. Pulse 2.0 reports that Calm, which launched in 2018, has now hit $150 million in annual recurring revenue and it has raised more than $27 million in a Series B extension, which is an add-on to $88 million in Series B funding raised earlier this year. The total raised to date is now more than $140 million. The company will use the new funding to expand its guided meditations, launch more classes, stories, readings and music.
The Latest Details of WarnerMedia’s New HBO Max
When you are done binge-watching Season 3 of Stranger Things on Netflix, you might be interested to hear the latest details WarnerMedia has revealed about its upcoming direct-to-consumer streaming video subscription service, expected out later this year. First, WarnerMedia will call the service HBO Max, not to be confused with HBO (premium cable network), HBO Now (a streaming standalone version of HBO for cord cutters and cord nevers) or HBO Go (streaming service available to HBO subscribers who are on the go).
“Anchored with and inspired by the legacy of HBO’s excellence and award-winning storytelling, the new service will be ‘Maximized’ with an extensive collection of exclusive original programming (Max Originals) and the best-of-the-best from WarnerMedia’s enormous portfolio of beloved brands and libraries,” said the company in a July 9 news release.
Other highlights of HBO Max include:
- Starting in spring 2020, HBO Max will retain the exclusive streaming rights to 236 episodes of “Friends” and favorite shows including “The Fresh Prince of Bel Air” and “Pretty Little Liars.”
- HBO Max will be the exclusive home to new Warner Bros’ produced dramas for The CW, starting this fall, including “Batwoman” and “Katy Keene,” a spinoff of “Riverdale.”
- The service is expected to launch next spring with more than 10,000 hours of premium content.
“HBO Max will bring together the diverse riches of WarnerMedia to create programming and user experiences not seen before in a streaming platform. HBO’s world-class programming leads the way, the quality of which will be the guiding principle for our new array of Max Originals, our exciting acquisitions, and the very best of the Warner Bros. libraries, starting with the phenomenon that is ‘Friends,’” said Robert Greenblatt, chairman, WarnerMedia Entertainment and Direct-To-Consumer.
“Under the leadership of two of the strongest creative visionaries — Casey Bloys (HBO) and Kevin Reilly (original content and acquisitions) — and two of the most experienced digital experts — Tony Goncalves and Andy Forssell — I have no doubt they and their dedicated teams will deliver the world’s best storytelling to audiences of all ages wherever and whenever they want it,” he added.
IBM and Red Hat Officially Seal the Deal
On Tuesday, IBM and Red Hat confirmed that they officially closed the planned acquisition, giving Red Hat independence and neutrality while positioning IBM as a leading hybrid cloud provider and accelerating its growth in the open source market. To close the deal, IBM acquired all of issued and outstanding shares of common Red Hat stock at a price of $190.00 per share in cash, a deal worth approximately $34 billion.
“Joining forces with IBM gives Red Hat the opportunity to bring more open source innovation to an even broader range of organizations and will enable us to scale to meet the need for hybrid cloud solutions that deliver true choice and agility,” said Jim Whitehurst, Red Hat president and CEO.
Whitehurst will continue to lead Red Hat. The company will remain headquartered in Raleigh, North Carolina, and will become a separate business segment within IBM.
"Businesses are starting the next chapter of their digital reinventions, modernizing infrastructure and moving mission-critical workloads across private clouds and multiple clouds from multiple vendors," said Ginni Rometty, IBM chairman, president and CEO. "They need open, flexible technology to manage these hybrid multicloud environments. And they need partners they can trust to manage and secure these systems. IBM and Red Hat are uniquely suited to meet these needs. As the leading hybrid cloud provider, we will help clients forge the technology foundations of their business for decades to come."