Today is E-Discovery Day 2020, and Portland, Ore.-based Exterro is celebrating in a big way.

In a nine-digit deal that it says makes it the only company to address governance, risk, compliance and digital investigations in a single integrated platform, Exterro is announcing that it has acquired AccessData, one of the world’s leading providers of digital forensic investigation technology.

Exterro says that the acquisition furthers its vision of empowering customers to proactively and defensibly manage their legal governance, risk and compliance (GRC) obligations while maintaining and ensuring the highest levels of data integrity.

Through the acquisition of AccessData, it says, it can now provide companies, government agencies, law enforcement agencies, law firms and legal service providers with the only integrated platform that addresses all legal GRC and digital investigation needs.

Bobby Balachandran

In an interview yesterday, Bobby Balachandran, Exterro’s CEO, declined to disclose the financial terms of the deal, but said that the value was substantial and in nine figures, meaning somewhere more than $100 million.

He also said that the acquisition helps set the stage for Exterro to go public, possibly sometime in 2021.

“We will first integrate this business effectively, and make sure we create value for our customers,” he said, “but 2021 would be a good target.”

All of AccessData’s staff and management team will remain with the company, including CEO Ken Naumann. The combined companies have more than 3,000 clients and 500 employees spread across North America, Europe and Asia Pacific.

In June 2019, Exterro announced that it had acquired Jordan Lawrence Group, a company that provides data privacy and data management software. In 2018, Exterro announced that it had received a major investment from Leeds Equity Partners. At a reported $100 million, it was 2018’s largest investment in a legal technology company.

Founded as an e-discovery technology company in 2004, Exterro has expanded over the years into what it calls a Legal GRC company, with software products for governance, risk and compliance, as well as a full range of e-discovery software covering everything from legal holds to review and production.

AccessData, founded in 1987 and based in Lindon, Utah, has been a pioneer in computer forensics, e-discovery and litigation support. In recent years, it has become one of the leading technologies used by law enforcement agencies in digital forensics investigations and by corporate enterprises for internal investigations and data-breach analysis, particularly through its product Forensic Toolkit, or FTK.

Balachandran said that FTK will remain a distinct product, but that Exterro is also already working to integrate it with its own GRC and machine-learning products to allow companies to more quickly identify information risks and more quickly expose “smoking gun” evidence.

“This was a very market-driven acquisition,” Balachandran said. Exterro had already become a leader in governance and compliance, he said, and its acquisition of Jordan Lawrence last year strengthened its position in data privacy. With AccessData, it strengthens its position in cybersecurity and digital forensics.

“When you think about these three areas, everything is driven by data, and data that is very diverse,” Balachandran said. “We really shine in the area of being able to identify where the information is and get to the data in the fastest and most cost effective manner.”

For customers, the integration of these technologies within a single platform is critical, he believes. Analogizing it to the plumbing in a house, he said that you don’t want separate systems of pipes for the kitchen, the washroom and each bathroom.

In the same way, it makes no sense for companies to have to buy separate products for data privacy, cybersecurity, e-discovery and forensics. “You want to run a common infrastructure then have workflows within it to deal with different types of data acquisition.”

I did not speak with Naumann, AccessData’s CEO. In a statement provided by the company, he said this is an exciting day for AccessData customers.

“As the leading Legal GRC technology provider, Exterro offers a portfolio that perfectly complements our own innovations,” he said. “The acquisition will bring tremendous new value to our users, helping them strengthen and defensibly accelerate end-to-end forensic investigations and e-discovery.”

Photo of Bob Ambrogi Bob Ambrogi

Bob is a lawyer, veteran legal journalist, and award-winning blogger and podcaster. In 2011, he was named to the inaugural Fastcase 50, honoring “the law’s smartest, most courageous innovators, techies, visionaries and leaders.” Earlier in his career, he was editor-in-chief of several legal publications, including The National Law Journal, and editorial director of ALM’s Litigation Services Division.