The cloud practice management company SurePoint Technologies today announced a strategic investment from the private investment firm Aquiline Capital Partners by which Aquiline will acquire a majority ownership stake in the company.
Existing investor ParkerGale, which acquired a majority stake in the company in 2018, will roll a portion of its stake and maintain minority ownership.
Founded in 1982 as Rippe & Kingston Systems and rebranded last year, SurePoint provides SaaS-based software that addresses all areas of law firm operations, including financial management, payment processing, mobile timekeeping, billing, business intelligence, and real-time reporting.
It was started as the sister company to a Cincinnati accounting firm of the same name. Cofounder George Kingston ran it until 2018, when ParkerGale acquired a majority stake.
Later that year, ParkerGale brought in a new chief executive officer, Tom Obermaier, who had most recently been CEO of Regulatory DataCorp, a reg tech firm serving the global financial community, and who began his career as lawyer at Skadden.
SurePoint’s customers are primarily midsized U.S. law firms ranging in size from 20 to 300 lawyers, with some much larger firms and some firms as small as five lawyers.
Aquiline, based in New York and London, invests in businesses across financial services and technology, business services, and healthcare. It had $6.4 billion in assets under management as of Dec. 31, 2020.
While most of Aquiline’s investments are in fin-tech and financial services, it is an investor in one other company in the legal sector, ABC Legal, which specializes in tech-enabled service of process, e-filing, skip-tracing and other legal services.
Aiming for Explosive Growth
In an interview yesterday, CEO Obermaier described Aquiline as a firm that specializes in helping companies achieve exponential growth. “They transform solid, scalable properties into industry powerhouses.”
He credited original investor ParkerGale with taking the company from an early phase of growth to one that is now mature and scalable. With that scalability established, he said, Aquiline can now help take the company to a level of more explosive growth.
When he came aboard in 2018, Obermaier said, the company still operated as a legacy subsidiary of the CPA firm that founded it and its product was a driver of consulting revenue for the firm.
Since then, he said, the business has been transformed through four major initiatives:
- Moving to a completely SaaS model with a predictable monthly subscription, something that he said is unusual for ERP products and described as revolutionizing the market.
- Initiating an innovation trajectory to continually make its product more robust and to build new models and new technology.
- Aggressively enhancing scalability in order to onboard more clients more quickly, effectively productizing the onboarding process and dramatically reducing onboarding time, while continuing features such as onboarding clients’ full financial histories, not just recent histories.
- Modernizing customer support to meet the demands of greater numbers of customers, including by creating support pods of specialists in certain aspects of the product and by using AI to help quickly get support issues to the right pod.
Those initiatives have paid off, Obermaier said, resulting in 35% growth last year and an increase in customers from 150 firms when ParkerGale acquired the company in 2018 to nearly 400 today.
With the investment announced today, Obermaier said the company will continue to focus on developing its product and building its customer base. But what most interests him as a former lawyer is developing the predictive capabilities of the technology.
“I view legal tech as at the cusp between automation and prediction,” he said, by which he means the ability of technology to help carry the administrative burden of managing a firm by giving firms information they can rely on, from profitability assessments to pricing schedules to resource allocation.
“When I talk about going to prediction, I’m saying the law firm’s own data needs to speak to its attorneys in more powerful and useful ways than it does now,” he said.
SurePoint is nearing launch of two prediction models, one for pricing and one for profitability, with others still to come.
As for building its customer base, SurePoint will continue to focus on the U.S. market, as well as Canada, where it has several customers.
The company will also consider making strategic acquisitions, especially if it did decide to expand internationally, he said.
In a statement provided by the company, Jeff Greenberg, chairman and CEO of Aquiline, said, “Tom and the SurePoint team have built a strong business that is well-equipped to help manage more seamless administrative processes, enabling law firms to improve performance and operate more efficiently.
“We are excited to partner with SurePoint, where our experience with investing in vertical software, legal services and payment processing will support the company as it continues to deliver cutting-edge solutions to its customers.”