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To add intelligence to digital documents, Macro raises $9.3

Former Bridgewater Associates investment logic engineer Jacob Beckerman found it difficult to print out and annotate documents using common document apps like Acrobat and Microsoft Office. He experimented with PDF processing software because he questioned why it wasn’t possible to read and write on a PC that felt as natural as paper.

By 2020, Beckerman had assisted in the creation of a full-fledged, customized PDF editor out of those early experiments. The editor, known as Macro, uses AI to extract important terms, sections, and equations so that documents can be interactive and hyperlinked.

Investors seemed intrigued by the vision. The company named Macro, which Beckerman founded and is the source of the tool, has raised $9.3 million in a seed round led by Andreessen Horowitz with participation from Craft, BoxGroup, and 3kVC. The investment comes as Macro gears up to launch a word-processing tool and expand its current eight-person staff.

Beckerman said, “We believe that there’s a significant amount of room for improvement in open source formats like PDF, DOCX, PPTX, and email.” The fact that these formats are standards is a plus. They have no owner. Additionally, they are extensible, allowing for standard modification and expansion. We are therefore extending and building on top rather than creating proprietary formats from scratch and ignoring the network effects that these formats already have.

To that end, users can instantly preview any cross-reference in a document by clicking on it in Macro’s PDF editor, which is offered for free along with a $49 per user per month plan for extra features and an enterprise tier for volume licensing. While web browser-like tabs offer a more flexible way to navigate between pages, hyperlinks to pages and sections are inserted via an AI-powered detector if the underlying PDF doesn’t already contain them.

Documents in Macro can link both within and between files. The software can also compare files, combine edits from different Word and PDF documents into a single version, create files from templates, and produce one or more PDF documents at once from a spreadsheet. A filterable side panel of potentially detected PDF errors and a tables of contents generator are additional noteworthy features.

“Power users of productivity apps are our main focus. XLSX is used in finance. Law utilizes PDF and DOCX. Runs on PDF: sales, compliance, and more. Email powers everything, according to Beckerman. “We’re focused on making external communications more like chat (fun, fast, and more informal) while maintaining backwards compatibility with email,” the company said. “We’re particularly excited about how we’ve made documents dynamic and interactive (within DOCX and PDF).”

Macro isn’t the first to attempt to disrupt the PDF market, of course. Given the chance, it really isn’t surprising. The third most popular file type on the web, behind JPEG, PNG, and GIF files, according to one source, is PDF. By 2027, the market for PDF editor software, according to Research and Markets, will be worth $3.79 billion.

One of the more significant players in the market is PSPDFKit, which offers customers APIs and a software developer kit to power document processing features like e-signatures, document viewing and editing, and collaboration. Nitro is an additional option that enables users to create, convert, edit, and sign PDFs right inside their browsers.

Early adopters who are passionate about Macro, according to Beckerman, are a plus. He asserts that “many” of the top Wall Street investment banks, Am Law 100 and Magic Circle law firms, university endowments, private equity firms, and hedge funds are currently working with the startup. Even though Beckerman would not disclose the size of Macro’s customer base or provide a rough revenue estimate, he claimed that the current economic pressures are favoring Macro.

The counter-cyclical sectors of restructuring and distressed investing, which are expanding in the current economic environment, are served by several banks and law firms that we work with, according to Beckerman. “We had no idea that our effort to improve the PDF experience was just the start of a much larger undertaking. As we begin to assist these organizations, we’re continually astounded by the sheer number of document issues that remain unresolved. Most workstreams still struggle with managing versions, information chaos, and busywork; we’re thrilled to find solutions for our end users and enterprise clients.

The aforementioned word processor will be Macro’s primary focus in the upcoming year, followed by a “inter-company communication” tool, according to Beckerman. We’re interested in specialized solutions for various verticals, he continued. We believe horizontal tools have a scale advantage naturally, but it’s crucial to comprehend how various teams will use the software to complete various tasks.

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