Al Gore’s Former Business Partner Joel Hyatt Is Disrupting Things Again

February 24, 2017, 3:00 PM UTC

Joel Hyatt is a rare breed in Silicon Valley, a fourth-time entrepreneur whose first efforts had nothing to do with technology. Hyatt Legal Services was a nationwide discount law firm. Hyatt Legal Plans, eventually sold to MetLife, let companies provide lawyers to their employees. Current TV, his pioneering broadcast venture with business partner Al Gore, lived long enough to get sold to Al Jazeera.

Hyatt is at it again with a company with a great name, a good idea, and a thin track record—Globality. (Heather Clancy wrote about it at length at its launch.) Though Hyatt will shrug at the small-bore comparison, it is like a Thumbtack for high-end service providers. In theory, big companies will use Globality to find service providers like lawyers, ad agencies, and environmental consultants outside their own country. Globality lines up the service providers, typically small firms with big-firm expertise, and then plays matchmaker for the multinational trying to complete a project. If all goes well, the law firm or ad agency pays Globality a commission on the work they do, essentially a finder’s fee for having identified a client they never would have known.

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I say “in theory” because Globality is just getting going. Hyatt says it worked for two years on its technology platform, a buzzword-friendly mélange of artificial intelligence, machine learning, and natural-language processing that helps put together vendor and customer in a marriage of global bliss. He wouldn’t name any of the “small handful” of multinationals that have agreed to try the platform. He says this is because he hasn’t asked their permission. I suspect he hasn’t asked because these “charter partners,” which will receive some equity in Globality if they meet certain purchase targets, haven’t proven the new service’s value yet.

Globality isn’t exactly a “gig economy” platform. It targets firms with 20 to 500 employees who won’t accept engagements for less than $100,000. Hyatt reckons the world’s biggest law firms, ad agencies, and management consultants will be threatened—he says disrupted—by Globality. His track record suggests that’s at least a possibility.

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