The earliest picture I have of Eddie Sheehy, taken at an eDiscovery conference in Singapore in 2010 on a panel which I moderated.
It’s an odd beast the eDiscovery world. Now a multibillion-dollar industry and growing, it somehow retains a sense, if not quite of family, then of a relatively small group of people who have known each other for a long time, and a handful of corporate names which are widely known.
Every so often, news comes along which makes it feel as if the ground is rocking under my feet – a long established corporate name disappears by acquisition; a well-loved character dies or retires; in this case, someone leaves a company with which they have been so closely identified that it is hard to think of them as separate.
Last week it was the news that Eddie Sheehy, long-time CEO of Nuix, had resigned. The company statement is here and I have nothing to add to it. I am an observer of and commentator on the industry, not an analyst or a journalist, and it is not incumbent on me to produce yards of speculation about Nuix and its future place in the market. That is assured anyway, and that is thanks to Eddie Sheehy and the first-rate team he built around him as Nuix moved from a small Australian forensics company to a global player in eDiscovery, cyber security, investigations, corporate intelligence, information governance and pretty well every other field which hangs around the core skills and technology of eDiscovery.
Indeed, it was at a Nuix event in Palm Beach many years ago that I first heard this expounded, this idea that eDiscovery tools and skills would transfer to other areas central to corporate soundness. Eddie Sheehy went on to turn that idea into practical reality.
Instead of hard-hitting analysis, I give you some personal recollections. I cannot remember the year, but it must have been about 10 years ago that James Moeskops, managing director of Millnet in London, invited me to come in and see a demonstration of some software called Nuix which Millnet had come across – Millnet was the first in London to do so and perhaps the best-equipped to identify interesting new technology. My own focus then was more technical than it is now (I had until recently been a discovery software developer) and I was immediately gripped by the potential of Nuix which offered functionality which I had not seen anywhere else.
Roll forward a year or two and I am in New York for Legaltech. Eddie Sheehy invited me to a breakfast chat and a demo, and I can picture both with clarity. One of the highest compliments which the restrained English can give is to say that someone is a “good bloke” (it is not an expression which transfers well between the sexes and there is no equivalent term for the many women now in eDiscovery who deserve a similar level of approbation). It was instantly clear that Eddie Sheehy was a good bloke.
He was also passionate about Nuix and about its potential in eDiscovery (“passionate” – there’s another word which used to have a meaning but has now been degraded by overuse to mean one rung up from “mildly interested”; I use it in its old and complimentary sense).
Later, Eddie Sheehy gave me a demo of the then latest version of Nuix in a modest suite at the Warwick. There were no big booths in those days, no teams of sales and marketing people, and for all I know Eddie was doing all the demos himself. Again, the software impressed.
We got on immediately, and Nuix became one of the early sponsors of the eDisclosure Information Project. Sponsorship involves more (or can involve more if that is what you want) than merely paying a fee in return for some defined marketing assistance. The more you put in, the more you get out, and Nuix put in more than most. This is partly because it had the best marketing team in the industry, led by Carolyn Betts.
The secret lay partly in a constantly-evolving website which mixed clear and imaginative marketing material with thoughtful, interesting and sometimes challenging commentary and leadership content. It lay partly in the social events – the parties, the dinners, and the rest always managed to mix pleasure with thought-inspiring talks and discussions (I am no enthusiast, I should say, for being talked at while I eat, but Nuix always managed to produce speakers who overrode that sentiment).
What sticks in my mind are the conferences over the years, chief among them the 2011 User Exchange in Sydney, the Information Governance Forum at Palm Beach in 2012, the Nuix Insider Conference in London in 2016 and, best of all for me, the Nuix User Exchange at Huntington Beach last year. At most of these, I was given something really interesting to do, but the Nuix events were among the few I would attend whether participating or not. Having the opportunity to talk to Eddie Sheehy was one of the reasons for that.
At the Nuix Legaltech dinner, February 2015
Nuix has punched well above its weight in all these years, always anticipating the next corporate demand, always beating expectations, and forever taking on new areas without lessening its grip on the old ones. It will, I am sure continue to do so as it moves to the next phase in its existence.
I am off to New York in a few days for another Legaltech. It will seem a bit emptier than usual.