Microsoft acquires Equivio for its machine learning eDiscovery, IG and compliance technology

We learned yesterday that Microsoft has acquired Equivio, confirming a rumour which started circulating during last year. An article on the Microsoft blog says:

“We are making this acquisition to help our customers tackle the legal and compliance challenges inherent in managing large quantities of email and documents”.

Microsoft has contributed more than any other company to the world’s ability to create user content. It is fitting that it should want to own some of the best technology that exists for managing that content, not just for eDiscovery and compliance purposes, but for extracting value from it. The reference in the Microsoft blog post to Office 365 is as significant a pointer as you could want as to Microsoft’s intentions.

You can judge the importance of Equivio by the impact when rumours first started circulating about this acquisition, with long articles devoted to the implications. I kept my trap shut, preferring to avoid speculation on a subject where I had no more hard information than anyone else.

The subject kept recurring in private conversations, however – it came up in a discussion with an eDiscovery provider as recently as last week in which it was an unspoken given that the Microsoft deal would happen at some point. I sometimes write predictions on scraps of paper, date them and stick them in a drawer; I did not do that on this occasion but, if I had, I would have anticipated an announcement before LegalTech. That would have been a Holmesian “dog that didn’t bark” conclusion: Equivio always announces something new at LegalTech – it was Themes last year, and Zoom the year before that; I have had no hint of any such product release, so something else must be coming, and it wasn’t hard to guess what.

As you will have seen, I have been trying to write up all the eDiscovery news to clear my decks before LegalTech. I was a bit stuck with Equivio, because there was nothing new to say, and I got no further than writing a heading about their extremely good series of predictive coding webinars from last year. One concludes from Microsoft’s announcement and from Equivio’s references in their own announcement to “our user community” and to the continuing support for customers and partners, that these webinars remain relevant – you will find them here.

I recall a discussion with someone at the dreadful LegalTech of 2009 – “dreadful” because eDiscovery companies were failing (one closed down the day before it was due to give a LegalTech presentation), and the main activity at the show seemed to be the hawking around of CVs. My companion expressed concern about Equivio, then only five years old and very much smaller than many others in the industry. Equivio will be fine, I said, with its lean development and sales teams, strong work ethic, and already a range of inventive solutions which were solving real problems. There were many other software companies, those with me-too and catch-up solutions and with big teams to support, which would suffer before Equivio, I said. That analysis proved correct.

There was a nice tweet yesterday from iCONECT, one of Equivio’s technology partners. “Good things happen to good people”, it read. I agree, and I look forward to hearing more about the proposed role of Equivio under its new and very broad umbrella.

About Chris Dale

I have been an English solicitor since 1980. I run the e-Disclosure Information Project which collects and comments on information about electronic disclosure / eDiscovery and related subjects in the UK, the US, AsiaPac and elsewhere
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