Tuesday, January 23, 2007

LPO: A Good Hedge?

"May you live in interesting times!" may be a Chinese saying, but this is so apt for what Indian investors are doing. Rakesh Jhunjhunwala - the Indian version of Warren Buffet - has caught a new fancy, and no prizes for guessing what it is - Legal Process Outsourcing!

Yes, Jhunjhunwala has acquired a stake in Inventurus Knowledge Solutions, a Mumbai based startup. His $5.5 million stake is supposed to be non-controlling. The firm seems to have some clients. As an industry watcher I know said in a private conversation, "It's like a new LPO everyday!"

Media, as always has been not very sure about what is happening. Moneycontrol is confused about BPO/KPO/LPO but this one takes the cake!

Interesting times indeed...

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

LPO goes to IIT

Legal Process Outsourcing company Pangea3 is participating in recruitments at various Indian Institutes of Technology (IIT) across the country. Economic Times has this article about the news.

Two things in particular interest me:
1. The number of offers - 5 IITs, estimated 10 offers per IIT i.e. 50 offers! 50 offers across IITs for a company that is less than 2 years in operation. It will be interesting to see how many of those actually join and how many stay on 6 months after joining.
2. Compensation - This isn't confirmed but from what I hear is being offered to fresh graduates, 8-9 lakh p.a. (~ $20,000 p.a.), the competition is surely going to feel very uneasy. 8-9 lpa is something that companies offered to someone with 2-3 years of high quality experience. These unusually high numbers are definitely going to skew the talent supply in the space and it will be interesting to see how the competition tackles this.

This development is certainly a "mover and shaker" and this blog is happy to track it!

Monday, January 08, 2007

New LPO Shops ...

This can well become a sticky on this blog! There are too many "Legal Process Outsourcing" shops opening here and there all the time, and many of them do not seem to be serious or long term players.

Anyway, here's a round-up of some of the recent names:

1. UnitedLex - Located in Gurgaon - This company is funded by Helion Venture Partners. I found the "process mapping, performance baselining and process reengineering" bit quite intriguing, though evidence will help. This thing about a technology platform "state-of-the-art technology platform which empowers decision makers at corporations and law firms by providing them increased control over their processes and allowing them to objectively measure work output against key performance indicators" seems something new, beyond the usual, 1-You-mail-me-2-My-guys-sweat-3-I-mail-you-back 3-step workflow model! The dedicated team model also seems something audacious, though I have seen evidence of it with some of the well-to-do players in the space. "Our dedicated resource model enables clients to maximize the high value contribution of internal resources while managing increasing workloads more cost effectively." I will agree with that.

2. Cobra Legal Solutions - To start operations in Chennai - Ah, one LPO whose entry has been spamming everyone's mailbox with all the alerts we have signed up for! I am happy to see another player "backed by partners at US Law Firms", but if the zero-quality-check of the news piece is any sort of a signal of things to come, I have my doubts! The article heralding their "arrival on the LPO scene" begins like "If Clarvolex, Paneaga and Intellevate are the top MNCs that are in Noida to tap the legal process outsourcing (LPO) opportunity in India, then the entry of Cobra Legal Solutions (CLS) into Chennai, is expected to [yada] [yada] [yada]..." The first two company names are wrongly spelt (they should be Clairvolex [which is in New Delhi not Noida] and Pangea3 [again, the company is in Mumbai, not Noida], respectively), while the third, Intellevate, isn't a full-service "Legal Process Outsourcing" firm, its rather an "IP support services" firm. And what on earth does "MNC" really mean? If it means only a sales front end in a foreign country and operations in India (which is the case for Clairvolex and Pangea3 - Intellevate has operations in Minneapolis), then can we really have a [something] Process Outsourcing company which is not a Multi-National Company!

3. I-Runway - Has a small team in Bangalore - A small self-funded player having their services focused on the IP part of the LPO menu. It is particularly interesting to see such a company, one that is founded by people who became an early part of the industry - first few employees of one of the early movers, Evalueserve. This is quite in line with the long-expected big-time entrepreneurial activity in India, and 20 somethings doing so is very exciting. Other such companies are Inrea, and Infolitics. It is not a co-incidence that all of these companies are formed by IIT Bombay graduates, the prestigious institution has a long and glorious history of being home to first-generation very-successful entrepreneurs.

4. IusJuris - India location not known presently - The CEO of this company reminds me of several attorneys I've run into: Either born in India/born to an Indian family, educated in common law countries, countries - like Mauritius and Fiji - which are home to a lot of Indian immigrants , educated in the UK, and wanting to start an LPO company. I am also reminded of Sanjay Kamlani's comment: Every brown lawyer in the US wants to start a Legal Process Outsourcing venture! That their website reminds me of Neoworth is another thing! By the way, the website of Neoworth does not seem to have changed a bit (byte?) in more than 2 years. I am not keeping track but it seems that the company entered the space twice, once in late 2004 (when they started their first round of recruitment) and in late 2005. Of course, they might just have been busy...

If this post does become a sticky, I will try to keep it updated. Any inputs will be helpful.