Jacob Beckerman, a former investment logic engineer at Bridgewater Associates, grew frustrated with using standard document apps like Acrobat and Microsoft Office to print and mark up documents. He wondered why there wasn’t a way to read and write on a PC that felt as fluid as paper, which led him to experiment with PDF processing software.
By 2020, those experiments had grown into a full-fledged custom PDF editor that Beckerman helped build from scratch. With the help of AI, the editor called – Macro – pulls out key terms, sections and equations to make documents interactive and hyperlinked.
The vision intrigued investors, it seems. Macro – the eponymous startup behind the tool, 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 injection comes as Macro prepares to release a word processing tool and expand the size of its eight-person workforce.
“We believe there is a lot of room for improvement in open source formats such as PDF, DOCX, PPTX, XLSX, and email,” Beckerman told londonbusinessblog.com in an email interview. “The nice thing about these formats is that they are standards. Nobody owns them. And they’re extensible, meaning you can actually change the default and build on it. So instead of writing our own formats from scratch and instead of ignoring the network effects these formats already have, we are expanding and building on them.”
To that end, Macro’s PDF editor — which is available for free in addition to a $49 per-user-per-month subscription for additional features and an enterprise volume licensing tier — lets users click on any cross-reference in a document to get an instant preview. Hyperlinks to pages and sections are inserted via an AI-powered detector if the underlying PDF doesn’t contain them, while web browser-like tabs provide a more flexible way to navigate between pages.
In Macro, documents can link between – and within – files. In addition, the. software can compare files, consolidate edits of multiple Word and PDF files into one version, generate files from templates, and create one or more PDF documents at once from a spreadsheet. Other notable features include a filterable side panel of potentially detected errors in a PDF and a table of contents generator.
“We are targeting power users of productivity apps. Finance runs on XLSX. Law runs on DOCX and PDF. Sales, compliance and more run on PDF. Everything runs on email,” said Beckerman. “We are particularly excited about how we made documents dynamic and interactive (within DOCX and PDF) and then we focus on making external communication more chat-like (fun, fast and more casual) while maintaining backward compatibility with email .”
Of course, Macro isn’t the first to try to shake up the PDF space. And it’s really no wonder, if you get the chance. According to according to one source, PDF is the third most popular file format on the web — even 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 bigger players is PSPDFKit, which provides APIs and a software developer kit that customers can use to enable document processing features such as e-signature, document viewing and editing, and collaboration. Another is Nitro, which allows users to create, convert, edit, and sign PDFs in their browser.
A point in Macro’s favor is enthusiastic early adopters, Beckerman argued. He claims the startup is currently partnering with “many” of Wall Street’s top investment banks, Am law 100 And Magic circle law firms, university endowments, private equity firms and hedge funds. And while he wouldn’t reveal the size of Macro’s customer base — or even provide an estimate of the park’s revenue — Beckerman said current economic pressures are working in Macro’s favor.
“We serve several banks and law firms active in countercyclical sectors such as restructuring and distressed investments, which are picking up in the current economic climate,” said Beckerman. “We didn’t realize that our quest to upgrade the PDF experience was just the beginning of a much bigger mission. As we begin serving… organizations, we are constantly surprised by how many document issues remain to be resolved. Version management, information chaos and busy work still plague most workflows – we are excited to solve these issues for our end users and enterprise customers.”
Macro’s focus in the coming year will be on the aforementioned word processing tool, followed by a “business-to-business communication” tool, Beckerman said. “We are interested in tailor-made solutions for different industries,” he added. “We think horizontal tools have a natural economies of scale, but it’s important to understand how different teams will use the software to perform different tasks.”