CybelAngel is the startup that protects companies against digital risks by detecting the threats they face.
Founded in 2013, the company, which has just joined the Next 40 index, has already raised 52 million euros, recruited 120 employees, and has four offices in Paris, London, New York and Boston.
So obviously, we wanted to meet Yolaine Tranchevent, legal director at CybelAngel, to understand from the inside what the legal department of a hyper-growth scale-up looks like.
In this spotlight, you will understand what her priorities have been since she took up her post three years ago. Yolaine looks back at her role, the organisation of her team, and shares her vision of the legal profession: supporting the business.
Hello Yolaine, and thank you for accepting our invitation!
First of all, can you introduce yourself? What is your background?
I initially started studying law with the idea of becoming a police commissioner. I didn't find the subject particularly lively, but I was lucky enough to start my career in a law firm and to meet an extremely brilliant and inspiring lawyer who gave me a taste for law! I then went on to work in two legal departments of leading logistics and supply chain groups.
You started your career in large groups. Why did you choose to join a company like CybelAngel?
I had been working in these two groups for more than eight years and the legal processes, even if they still need to evolve, were still well established. It could have been a comfort to stay with what was already in place, but I was looking for more of a challenge. Moreover, in larger corporations there is a strong tendency for lawyers to be compartmentalised into specific areas of expertise, whereas I wanted to continue to develop and make use of my generalist skills.
I admit that I didn't know CybelAngel before joining the team. But the company's project and the energy of its founders attracted me. An exchange with my future COO at CyberAngel made it easy to decide - because of his experience, he was sensitive to legal issues and suggestion that I start with him from scratch to establish and develop a global strategy and build a legal team. This was also a big plus in my decision: I clearly felt that the legal department was not perceived as a "wart" in their conception but as a real pole of competence attached to the business.
Looks like you made the right choice! Can you tell us about your role in the company?
What I do today is quite different from when I started at CybelAngel. In the early days, I was on my own, so I was mainly focused on customer acquisition. As the team grew, I took on more corporate and strategic issues. With hindsight, I realise that it was important to keep a foot in the field to have a good operational vision of where the product is at and to make sure that the overall coherence as well as to ensure that we are still meeting expectations and needs.
Talking about the team, can you introduce us and your organisation within the legal department?
At the moment, the team has two senior profiles who are more contract - IP - data oriented. The files are divided by geographical area: one of them is based in New York and covers this area as well as the UK & Nordics and the other is based in Paris and covers the rest of the world. I am now in charge of corporate matters for all the structures and general strategy matters. We work and think together on process issues.
We often talk about the position of lawyers in the company. What is your position today?
I report to the COO of CybelAngel. The financial and human resources departments also report to him. He represents us on the management committee. I know that there are debates about the relevance of sitting on the COMEX. For me, it is not a battle horse here as our functions and issues are very well represented through him. Perhaps the evolution of society will one day lead us to rethink things.
What is the place given to legal issues in a Next40 scale-up like CybelAngel?
Clearly, there is a fairly high level of expectation on the part of the managers and also the teams. When we talk about "scale", it's not limited to sales but also to the evolution of the product and the legal framework in which it can or cannot evolve.
At CybelAngel, we are in the loop for almost all projects, whatever their level. Teams across the business see us as "business partners", which is very pleasant from a dynamic point of view as well as from a human point of view - and above all it makes things productive!
What luck... I think you'll make some people jealous! What have been the major projects you have carried out over the last three years?
I think the biggest project has been to put in place all the contractual legal documentation that is "smart" both in terms of content and form for our clients. When we sell a cybersecurity service, lawyers often think "OK, it's a SaaS service". This is not true because it is only part of the service. So we had to rethink the documentation so that they could understand it, while ensuring that our interests were protected and that the risk areas were secure. On top of that, the additional challenge is that all this documentation is relevant to customers in all four corners of the world and that it fits in with the sales process as accurately as possible.
Yes, I can imagine the magnitude of the task. It is often said that the legal profession is evolving. Do you also see this at your level?
I don't know if we can talk about evolution. Personally, I just find that there is a very wide diversity of profiles, particularly in terms of skills, and that it is difficult in practice to recruit both technical and business-oriented profiles. You tend to see people with great titles but when you scratch the surface, it's relatively hollow.
There is more and more talk about the digitization of the legal function. What is your view on the development of legal tech in France?
I think that these are generally very useful tools in this objective of scale. There is no doubt that their use contributes to improving the performance of the legal team.
They are all the more useful when they allow you to produce statistics and to quantify exposure to X or Y risk, for example. They also make all the more sense when the legal team is dispersed in different countries.
How do you train on a daily basis?
For more than two years now, I have had a 1.5 hour slot in my diary to keep abreast of legal news, whether through institutional blogs, firm newsletters or my own research. I also ask the people in my team to do the same and we share information with each other.
Then, like many people, I sign up for paid training courses on the topics that interest me.
And outside of work, where can we find you?
Before Covid, I would have told you in a bar or a restaurant but now I'm mainly at my best friend's... the wine shop 😉. I eliminate my excesses at the weekend by running behind my binoculars in the Parc Monceau.
And yes, unfortunately! Would you have a last word for the lawyers who read the Tomorro blog?
I tend to believe that the "good" lawyer has a very artistic and creative side, so don't hesitate, go for it, propose things and try to innovate!