ILTA 2012 Pre-Game: E-discovery Year in Review

Why wait til year-end for a recap? It’s been a head-spinning time for e-discovery acquisitions, and by December we’ll all be too busy prepping new announcements for LegalTech to worry about the last year anyway (or is it just me?).

Since the announcements for ILTA 2012 are embargoed until Monday (and the best gossip won’t emerge til happy hour), let’s examine some recent news impacting the space, in the context of what to look for at the show.

Symantec Buys Clearwell and LiveOffice

One of the early “in-housing” success stories for Early Case Assessment, Clearwell has been a great cross-selling opportunity for archiving titan Symantec, and has held its own in the indirect market against no shortage of competitors. The company now introduces transparent predictive coding – an interesting check-box for in-house buyers as they increase DIY review on smaller matters, and potentially even more interesting for indirect sales, depending on the pricing mechanism behind it. Could Clearwell review threaten predictive coding in the channel like kCura RAR, Recommind’s hosted version of Axclerate and Equivio’s integrations at top service providers? Also, while less relevant for this law-firm oriented show, enterprise buyers will want the full integration update for Symantec’s Information Governance holdings with Clearwell and the LiveOffice acquisition, including status reports on Enterprise Vault’s Discovery Collector and Discovery Accelerator

Guidance Buys CaseCentral

Guidance customers now have an end-to-end story in the cloud for review with the purchase of CaseCentral, as well as a new app store debuting this fall. Workproduct reuse has always been a strong story for CaseCentral – one potentially to build on now that it’s paired with one of the Fortune 500’s favorite collection and e-discovery response tools.

HP Buys Autonomy

Always a brand with a strong reputation, the fate of Autonomy (and the fate of HP, given the enormity of the acquisition) is of interest. Is it “a whole new Autonomy” with founder/CEO Mike Lynch gone, as some inside the company have claimed? Or will Autonomy’s popular “meaning-based” messaging continue to provide a valuable lesson for users in the divide between software sales and software deployment? I.e. is the price of Autonomy still that it comes with Autonomy, for both HP and its customers?

Xerox buys Lateral Data

Long known as an IP innovator for the contributions of its PARC and Grenobles research centers, Xerox has nevertheless avoided productizing its own Xerox Litigation Service review IP and services. Instead, it’s invested in Lateral Data, the product of another service provider who did go the software route. Lateral’s end-to-end story was running them up against Relativity in direct sales to law firms near acquisition time, as kCura continues to expand outside the channel. Will Xerox persevere in this drive for enterprises sales, particularly given the company’s more service-oriented slant since their acquisition of ACS?

Applied Discovery bought by Siris Capital

AD’s not only split from LexisNexis, but gone best-of-breed as a Relativity partner, offering kCura’s tool alongside its own hosted Leverage review (formerly ORA). It’s early days for this transition, but expect big moves from CEO Ramana Venkata (formerly of Iron Mountain-Stratify).

Service Provider Consolidation

EPIQ buys De Novo for managed review and staffing, DiscoverReady buys ACT Litigation, Huron Consulting buys AdamGrayson, Deloitte buys IE Discovery, Navigant buys Ignited Discovery - thank goodness we're all wearing nametags with our current employers on them!

FTI continues integrating Attenex and Ringtail

Not “new news,” but always positive to see integration in the wake of an acquisition. It’s a slow road and one some acquirers pursue half-heartedly. A service provider once told me that the best thing that ever happened to Clearwell in the channel was Attenex being acquired by FTI - for those Attenex-lovers out there, it’s now more well-integrated than ever in Ringtail 8, which allows easier shifting between linear and visual review with Document Mapper.

Recommind goes for an IPO

Recommind is planning a 2013 IPO, and it doesn’t look like an idle threat (remember how many times Clearwell claimed it was going for an IPO pre-acquisition?). The company’s moves internally and externally seem to reflect a drive for growth - for instance, its first ever partnership with Hudson Legal to provide consulting, project management, staffing, and training for its Axcelerate review tool with predictive coding . More are reported to be on the way. Bold moves from a vendor which has heretofore been very protective of its IP, and largely pursued license sales. More good sporting fun for rival review vendors in the indirect market. And does Autonomy’s acquisition open up opportunities for Recommind in direct sales as well? Recommind’s recent release of Content Delivery for SharePoint shows it’s backing its product and customer base even up against Microsoft’s FAST, the SharePoint search to beat.

Nuix adds North American CEO

The Oz-based company builds a yellow-brick road to North America with its new CEO, Mark Chardack, formerly of Merrill Corporation. Service providers and their customers have spearheaded rapid adoption of Nuix’s highly-scalable processing and review, adding collection through partnership. Will this move catalyze yet more partner wins in the coveted North American market? And with the release of Nuix 4 with more information governance applications, can a full-throttle enterprise campaign be far behind?

Catalyst gets $32m infusion

The hosted review provider took on $32m of private equity funding this year, and is probably looking to partner, particularly towards its inroads in the fast-growing Asian market. The company demos Catalyst Insight at the show, its latest rev since re-tooling its underlying search and interface, as well as moving to the Amazon cloud.

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Finally, a blind item: what key acquisition by a market titan has been an open secret for almost a year? No I won’t tell, but I’m interested (like many others) in what’s the holdup.