In an acquisition that brings together two of the biggest companies in the e-Discovery software market, kCura announced Monday it has acquired Content Analyst Company on undisclosed terms.
Both companies are major players in the e-Discovery software market and have long been partners: Chicago-based kCura makes Relativity, a widely used tool for data collection, processing, review and production. Meanwhile, Content Analyst’s signature product, CAAT analytics, is the back-end technology embedded in Relativity, as well as other e-Discovery platforms, that provides the search engine capability.
In an interview, kCura’s president and CEO Andrew Sieja said the acquisition will allow kCura to expand Relativity’s analytics features, and also to keep the engineers at Content Analyst focused more tightly on the e-Discovery market – as the product was also being used by companies in talent management and other sectors.
“What this is really going to do is allow us to innovate faster,” said Sieja.
Content Analyst’s CAAT analytics engine is known for its concept clustering, which allows users to search data sets by topics or concepts, rather than keywords. It also has email de-duplication, foreign language detection and numerous other features, and can be found in a half-dozen other e-Discovery software platforms.
On its website, the company listed its partners which include a number of kCura’s competitors, such as Consilio, Driven, Ipro, LLM Liquid Litigation Management, Planet Data, Sherpa and Thomson Reuters.
Kurt Michel, CEO of Content Analyst, said his company will honor outstanding business agreements with other companies in the e-Discovery software market.
Said Michel, “We share a lot of the same corporate core values [with kCura] and one of those is doing the right thing. There are a dozen or so [partners] in the e-Discovery world. We’re going to continue to honor those contracts.”
Still, it’s not clear if any of those competitors will continue to sign new contracts with Content Analyst once it’s under ownership of a competitor, kCura, or if kCura will allow Content Analyst to continue signing new contracts with rivals going forward. It also remains to be seen whether another company could step into the role that Content Analyst played. Check back on Big Law Business for more updates on this.
Sieja said the two companies have been working together since 2008 and had often discussed a combination. Those talks became more serious in October during Relativity Fest, an annual conference that kCura hosts in Chicago to showcase its software and offer panel discussion on industry issues.
“Frankly, Kurt and I were hanging out in our [hotel] suite, and I proposed, “Like Kurt, come on, let’s make this happen,” said Sieja. “And then I jumped on the table.”
“Literally,” Michel chimed in.
From there, they spent the past several months working through the terms of the deal.
CAAT has also been used outside the e-Discovery space, for peripheral legal services, such as contract discovery – the company lists Seal Software as a partner on its website. And it lists as a partner ClearanceJobs.com, a job network for professionals with security clearances.
Sieja said the acquisition will allow engineers at Content Analyst to focus more narrowly on building out features for e-Discovery users, which has become more important as data sets grow larger and require better analytics to sort.
According to the press release announcing the acquisition, more than 70 percent of Relativity users are licensing the analytics features of the program, a number which has grown 1500 percent since 2011 as more courts around the world have signed off on predictive coding, and technology-assisted review.
It marks the first acquisition by kCura following an announcement in 2015 that it had accepted “a long-term, minority investor for the first time, raising $125 million from San Francisco-based ICONIQ Capital.”
In recent months, a number of smaller startups have made it more clear they’re seeking to compete with kCura, including Berkeley-based Everlaw, which announced in January it received $8.1 million in venture capital from Andreesen Horowitz, and also San Francisco-based Logikull.
In an interview with Big Law Business, in January, Everlaw CEO A.J. Shankar, said of kCura, “They’re definitely the largest out there … but at the same time, that also makes it harder for them to move quickly.”