That’s not market

“Preparation meant the leg work had been done – the message was in fact so powerful, the hard part was delivering it delicately. “

As I make my start at Deloitte Legal, the ‘what is Four Corners Intelligence‘ conversation keeps coming up.

Wood for the trees

It’s been a really useful exercise in getting clear and focussed on what Four Corners Intelligence is and is not. It has made me realise that for a while we had been operating in a safe-space of people that had seen, touched, and used Four Corners Intelligence – and we had lost our touch at conveying the what and how (and our value proposition) to people new to the product.

The genesis story

One story from the early days of Four Corners Intelligence, shortly after I built it, helps put some colour on this.

We were negotiating for a tier 1 bank, with the market leader on the other side – known for being inflexible in negotiating its standard terms. Some ‘top of house’ relationships meant a deal must be done, but the vendor’s lawyers were resisting reasonable changes.

We were bogged down on what derived data the client would be allowed to make (what research, analytics, indices, products, etc.) – we just wanted a fair position that matched what the client could do with the rest of their database, and was a reasonable market position.

So that’s how I ended up in in 2015 arguing ‘what’s market’ for derived data with the M&A lead of a white shoe US firm, and GC of information services at the market leader. We said tom-ah-toe, they said toe-may-toe, but we definitely didn’t mean the same thing.

It turns out however we had put the clients data licences into Four Corners Intelligence: we had every important clause, of every contract, organised, categorised, analysed and instantly reportable.

It was high stakes – deal team asking why this completion requirement wasn’t finished yet – me, emailing a senior partner and M&A lead on the other side directly – as a lowly associate – telling him he is wrong – but I was right.

I had the proof, in fact, that we were right, line by line.  In fact, that was the easy part, 5 seconds to pull it from Four Corners Intelligence:

Vendor 1: "Derived Data" means any content, information or data created by Customer or any Designated User … that could not be reasonably be reversed engineered by a typical individual client

Vendor 2: Derived Data means Information other than news which has been Manipulated to such a degree that the original cannot be recognised or traced back to us

Vendor 3: Nothing herein shall permit the Recipient to: … (ii) distribute information derived from the Rates where this amounts to or could be used as a direct substitute for the Rates and Service provided under this Agreement.

Vendor 4: the know-how, copyright and other intellectual property rights, database rights and all other rights of whatever nature in and to the data resulting from analytics performed by Customer on the Data are the property of and vested in Customer; provided that in no event shall any of the Data be identifiable or traceable from the resultant data or the resultant data be capable of use substantially as a substitute for the Data.

Your position: that Licensee may not use or disseminate the Data in any way which could cause the information so used or disseminated, in Licensor's sole good faith judgment, to be a source of or substitute for the Data otherwise required to be supplied by Licensor or its affiliates or available from Licensor or its affiliates.”

The harder part was telling the lead M&A partner:

I think this is an unreasonable definition and not in line with market practice.

We will be required to go to data vendors are ask them not to assert ownership over data which can be calculable or reverse engineered from, or could be used as a direct substitute, to their data.  We have set out another alternative for the drafting below.  If this cannot be accepted, then we need to escalate this.

– Me.
– 2015. Late at night.

Gulp.  Draft.  Re-read.  Click send.  Hope it’s ok….

Long story short we won the point, and it helped the client on the way to getting a good deal.  Backing up our view with data, and getting it over realtime had made all the difference.  Preparation meant the leg work had been done – the message was in fact so powerful, the hard part was delivering it delicately.  The sense of power was a world away from the oh-so-typical ‘defeat by appeal to authority’ that happens in these things, and this was the forge in which ‘Four Corners Intelligence’ started.