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Expanding, Adjusting but Still Focused on E-Discovery

When Exterro was founded in Beaverton, Oregon, in 2007 e-discovery was still new. It wouldn’t be until the following year that the U.S. Supreme Court amended the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure to create a category for electronic discovery.

Fifteen years later, the privately held company is still at it. E-discovery is still what it does. And the company is proud of its determination to stay the course. But it’s also made changes that have added product offerings, while it continues to serve the in-house legal market.

During a briefing for TAG Cyber’s analysts, chief marketing officer Bill Piwonka emphasized continuity. Some of the earliest e-discovery vendors “stumbled” by swerving into intrusion detection and data loss recovery, he said. His company, by contrast, has resisted the impulse to dive into security work.

But there have been changes—starting with the role of the general counsel. Over the past decade or so, Piwonka pointed out, lots of functions have been reporting up to the GC, like privacy, compliance and ethics. This new “convergence of responsibilities,” he said, has meant that “previously siloed organizations” are now better integrated.

Exterro has followed this lead. Last June it acquired Jordan Lawrence, a maker of data privacy and information management software. The move was designed to create a newly integrated software platform. And it resulted in a partnership with the Association of Corporate Counsel, the largest membership organization for in-house lawyers.

Jordan Lawrence was the association’s exclusive provider of privacy and cybersecurity services. Now Exterro is the exclusive provider of e-discovery software for ACC members as well, Piwonka said.

The relationship may also help facilitate another initiative. Having focused for the past 15 years on the Global 2000, the CMO said, Exterro is now thinking that the relationship with ACC “will improve our ability to go after the midmarket,” between $250 and $1 billion in annual revenues.

The concepts he laid out struck us as reasonable. But they also seemed at odds with his description of a company that always keeps its eyes on the ball. E-discovery, e-discovery, e-discovery.

The menu has expanded. Especially since Piwonka also mentioned that another new product, due out in Q1, will help GCs respond to data breaches. Even though all 50 states have their own data breach notification laws. And that’s just within the United States. (Piwonka explained that the software will just get them started. It will provide templates to direct the workflow, and companies can then customize the product to match their needs.)

They’re still focused on Legal, and their target is still the GCs. But the focus has gotten a lot bigger. “We want to be your Legal GRC platform,” is the picture that Piwonka painted. And that’s a bigger canvas than “we want to be your e-discovery program.”

If they can pull it off, it will certainly separate them from the pack.