Macro pays $9.3 billion to add intelligence to digital documents • TechCrunch

Jacob Beckerman, a former investment logic engineer at Bridgewater Associates, grew frustrated using standard document applications like Acrobat and Microsoft Office to print and markup documents. He wondered why there wasn’t a way to read and write on a PC that felt like liquid paper, which led him to experiment with PDF processing software.

In the year By 2020, those experiments had grown into a full-fledged custom PDF editor that Beckerman helped build from scratch. Using AI, the editor – called a macro – extracts keywords, elements and equations to make documents interactive and hyperlinked.

The vision attracted investors, apparently. Macro — the popular startup behind the device, founded by Beckerman — has raised $9.3 million in a seed round led by Andreessen Horowitz, with participation from Craft, BoxGroup and 3kVC. The capital infusion comes as Macro prepares to release word processing equipment and increase the size of its eight-person workforce.

“We believe there is a huge amount of room for improvement with open source formats like PDF, DOCX, PPTX, XLSX and email,” Beckerman told TechCrunch in an email interview. “The good thing about these formats is that they are standards. They have no owner. And they’re scalable, which means you can actually modify and build to the standard. So instead of writing proprietary formats from scratch and ignoring the network impact these formats have, we’re extending and building upon them.

Macro aims to improve PDF browsing with AI-powered highlights.

To that end, Macro PDF Editor—a $49-per-month per-user plan for additional features and an enterprise-level license for audio—users can click on a link in a document to get an instant preview. Links to pages and sections are accessed through an AI-powered finder without the underlying PDF, while web browser-like tabs provide a more flexible way to move between pages.

In a macro, documents can be linked between – as well as within – files. Moreover, the The software can compare files, consolidate multiple Word and PDF files into a single version, generate files from templates, and create one or more PDF documents from a spreadsheet at once. Other features of note include a side panel that can check for errors in PDFs and a content generator.

“Our focus is on the power users of productivity apps. Finance works on XLSX. Law works in DOCX and PDF. Sales, compliance and more work with PDFs. Everything is done by email,” Beckerman said. “We’re focusing on how to make documents flexible and interactive (in DOCX and PDF) and then, making external comets like chat (fun, fast and informal) while maintaining backward compatibility with email,” he said.


Image Credits: Macro

Of course, this isn’t the first time Macro has tried to shake up the PDF space. And no wonder, really, given the opportunity. According to one source, PDF is the third most popular file format on the web – more popular than JPEG, PNG or GIF files. Research and Markets estimates that the PDF editor software market will be worth $3.79 billion by 2027.

One of the biggest players is PSPDF Kit, which offers software developer kits that customers use to enhance document processing features such as e-signing, document viewing, and editing and collaboration. Another is Nitro, which allows users to create, convert, edit and sign PDFs in their browsers.

One point in Macro’s favor is enthusiastic early adopters, Beckerman countered. He says the startup is currently working with “a lot” of major Wall Street investment banks, Am Law 100 and Magic Circle law firms, university endowments, private equity firms and hedge funds. And while he wouldn’t disclose the size of Macro’s clients — or provide a ballpark revenue estimate — Beckerman said current economic pressures are working in Macro’s favor.


Macro finds errors in documents.

“We serve a number of banks and law firms that work in counter-cyclical industries such as restructuring and distressed investments, which are thriving in the current economic environment,” Beckerman said. Little did we know, our quest to improve the PDF experience was the beginning of a much larger mission. As we begin serving organizations, we are constantly amazed at how many documentation problems remain to be solved. Managing versions, data chaos and busy work still plagues most workflows – we’re excited to solve these problems for our end users and enterprise customers.

In the coming year, Macro’s focus will be on the aforementioned word processing tool, followed by the “Corporate Communications” tool, Beckerman said. “We need custom-made solutions for different verticals,” he added. “We think horizontal tools have a natural balance advantage, but it’s important to understand how different teams use the software to do different jobs.”

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