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Exclusive: Thomson Reuters acquires HighQ!

Added on the 18th Jul 2019 at 10:20 am
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Following a period of intense multi-party bidding that one person with knowledge of the situation described as “aggressive”, we understand that HighQ has been acquired by Thomson Reuters, in what looks likely to become our deal of the year for 2019.

The acquisition has yet to be formally announced but we understand that it has just been agreed today (18 July).

Questions have long hung over Thomson Reuters as to what it will spend the money it has made from divesting its 55% stake in its finance and risk business for around $17bn.

HighQ provides secure project and client collaboration and over the past few years has heavily focussed on the automation and workflow space, leveraging iSheets, a data collaboration module in HighQ Collaborate. Addleshaw Goddard is one law firm leading the charge on this and in 2018 Dentons, the world’s largest law firm, announced that it was adopting HighQ’s intelligent work platform.

The platform can be used for extranets and client portals, transaction management, legal project management and litigation management.

In March we revealed that HighQ was about to launch a new platform for corporate legal teams that includes work and collaboration tools for enterprise legal management, document management, matter management, legal intake and self-service, contract management and vendor management.

HighQ is also notably among the vendors positioning itself to become the leading AI platform or hub, and already has an integration with Kira Systems.

Within Thomson Reuters itself, HighQ already integrates well with Contract Express: if you use HighQ for client collaboration, you can import iSheet data into Contract Express Version 8 to generate documents and export documents back to HighQ as part of your drafting workflow.

The acquisition comes as Thomson Reuters groups heavily around legal tech products not services, having this year divested its legal managed services business that is still best known as Pangea3 to EY.

In February it launched legal workflow solution Panoramic, which is designed to help fee-earners plans each stage of a transaction or case, including pricing; cost and process; project management; and knowledge and data.

This acquisition follows a year of significant growth for HighQ. Its largest client base is in the United Kingdom, where it ended the financial year to 30 April 2018 with a 29% increase in revenue to £18.6m and what it describes as “significant progress in all markets the business operates in.” However, it made a loss in the most recent financial year thanks to the investments made during the past 12 months.

It has over the past three years been building out its global offering, having received $50m in investment from Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and One Peak, in an indication of the type of sums involved in Thomson Reuters acquisition. Its latest accounts showed that it had £2.7m in total equity, £8.7m in cash and no senior bank debt.

This is the latest example of consolidation in the legal technology market: Litera only recently acquired Workshare, in its continuing bid to own the document drafting lifecycle, with clients welcoming integration as they look for simplicity and integration.

We’ll bring you more as soon as we have it. A spokesperson for Thomson Reuters declined to comment.

14 Comments

  1. Tech lawyer says:

    Well that’s HQ f**ked.

  2. Legal IT person says:

    Sad times – just when you thought you could erase Thomson Reuters from your life, this happens.

  3. Burnt by TR before says:

    Hmmm, HighQ is a great product. All credit to Stuart Barr and the team. My concern is that Thomson Reuters will destroy it like they have a number of other products. I would like TR to issue a statement as to how they will operate differently so this doesn’t happen again.

  4. Legaltech says:

    Thompson Reuters – where Legal Technology goes to die.

  5. Stuart Barr says:

    Some thoughts from my perspective on yesterday’s news. I’m excited to continue our mission to transform the legal industry. The HighQ management team is staying and we now have the backing of significantly more resources and much broader reach. HighQ will become the core of the legal software platform for Thomson Reuters going forward and we’re going to retain HighQ’s client-centric culture, entrepreneurial spirit and product focus – the things that have made us successful. The HighQ team believes we share an ambitious vision with our new colleagues and we’re excited to continue trying to realise it. Together, we can accelerate our vision for the industry and build an amazing platform that drives real, exciting change at a scale that would otherwise have been impossible. Change and progress is inevitable. It’s exciting, let’s give it a chance.

    • Ann Ahnhmas says:

      How soul-crushing it must have been to edit this comment, Stuart. The writing of the first draft of it —okay, that’s pretty rote. But actually editing it down to convince people that TR isn’t going to be the kid who decides to take apart the vacuum cleaner because of course they can reassemble it. Sorry. This must have been immensely hard to write and publish.

  6. This is why we can't have nice things says:

    TR acquires plucky start-up.

    Founders exit.

    Innovation ends as engineers focus on integration with other TR products.

    Prices go up so customers can pay for the TR acquisition.

    Start up becomes neglected division or simply a cash cow.

    Customers leave.

    TR starts migrating customers to something else.

    Company is forgotten.

    Other plucky start-up starts acquiring customers.

    (Elton John sings)

    It’s the circle of life!

    • Plucky Startup says:

      Taking the opportunity to hoist a lion:

      safelinkhub.com does client portals, data rooms, and custom sheets and forms. We also have doc review, a workflow engine, apps for client onboarding and contract management, DMS integration and great security. We’re owned by lawyers and technical innovators, old enough to know what we’re doing, and young enough to still love our customers (they say they love us back). We’re ready for demos, migrations, cost-free parallel runs, and friendly conversations at any time. We just can’t wait to be king!

      • Was once a plucky start up says:

        And if things go well, you, too, will one day be acquired. Or are you less ambitious than that?

  7. NC says:

    In life there will always be HighQs and LowQs

    Not sure who I feel most sympathy with, the customers or the employees.

Any Comment?