Skip to content

Data Risk Management

How I’m Turning My Vision for Legal Technology into Reality: Why Exterro Acquired Zapproved

February 10, 2023

This article by Exterro Founder and CEO Bobby Balachandran originally appeared on the EDRM blog here on January 30, 2023 and is republished here for Exterro blog subscribers. 

I’m sure you’ve seen the big news from Exterro from last week. We’ve acquired Zapproved, an e-discovery provider and software developer known for its exceptional customer service and outcomes. This is the third major acquisition we’ve made since 2019, and it’s given me an opportunity to reflect on all the amazing achievements we’ve had–and the exciting work that we have ahead of us.

In 2008, my team and I founded Exterro because we saw that legal departments lacked the technology they needed to tackle the challenges of the unfolding world of big data, and we knew we could create that technology. After a decade of building the industry’s most complete e-discovery platform, we received some great validation for that vision. In May of 2018, Exterro announced a strategic investment from Leeds Equity partners, and since then we’ve been taking the legal technology industry by storm. We’ve accelerated our efforts to make that vision–a holistic software platform for enterprise legal departments like Peoplesoft for HR or SAP for enterprise resource management–a reality.

The strategic investment gave us the resources we needed to do the hard work of transforming our vision into truly game-changing technology. In 2019, we acquired Jordan Lawrence, a leading privacy and information governance software and services company. With their 30 years’ experience in data privacy and 1,000 premier clients, we entered the privacy market with a bang. Since then we’ve built out a comprehensive suite of privacy solutions that allow Exterro users to:

  • Understand what data they hold, where they hold it, for how long and why
  • Implement defensible, legally compliant retention policies
  • Find hidden personal, sensitive, and confidential data
  • Search, collect, review, redact, and produce it on demand as required by global privacy regulations
  • Comply with consent requirements in a post-cookie world
  • Mitigate risks associated with data breach and regulatory enforcement actions

And that was just the start. As 2020 wound to a close (and what a year that was!), Exterro acquired AccessData, the company behind the gold standard in digital forensics technology, the FTK® forensic toolkit, used by law enforcement, government agencies, law firms, and private enterprise alike for defensible, forensically sound investigations into everything from terrorism to cybercrime and HR violations to matters of corporate cybersecurity incidents.

At one level, we had achieved our vision. We had built the platform uniting the technologies legal departments needed to tackle the challenges of e-discovery, compliance, data privacy, and cybersecurity incident response into a singular platform. They could understand the petabytes of data enterprises hold, find what was needed easier than ever, and mitigate the risks and uncertainties that keep corporate boards up late at night.

But of course there’s more to meeting the needs of enterprise legal departments than just building a software suite and selling it. Last summer, we completed a strategic recapitalization that valued Exterro in excess of $1 billion dollars, which gave us the dry powder we’d need to make this acquisition and other strategic maneuvers in the future. E-Discovery is at the heart of what our technology enables, but true success isn’t about building a better mousetrap. It’s about ensuring that our customers succeed–and that’s what drove us to acquire Zapproved last week.

I’ve known Monica Enand, Founder and CEO of Zapproved, for years. As co-residents of the technology scene in Portland, Oregon, we frequently saw each other at events and certainly knew all about what each other were doing, building successful legal technology companies just a stone’s throw apart. We’re both passionate about the technologies and teams we’ve built–and will continue building now that Exterro and Zapproved are part of the same family.

As Monica said in the press release that went out on Thursday, “Zapproved’s mission has always been to make our customers ridiculously successful.” Combining Zapproved’s world-class customer service with the amazing innovation delivered by the Exterro product development and engineering teams was a no brainer. We’re going to take our powerful, robust technology platform, and then empower users in legal departments across the world to maximize the benefits of the data their organizations have while reducing the risks threats like litigation, privacy regulations, and data breaches pose.

Some might question the wisdom of placing a big bet on ourselves in what most people would say are choppy economic waters–but I disagree. When others are retrenching–and with headlines stating that companies across all industries are doing just that–that is the time to be bold. At Exterro, we’ve been betting on ourselves for more than 15 years now, since the first time I sat down at my dining room table with Exterro’s three co-founders during another economic downturn, and today we’re bigger and better than ever. There are great opportunities ahead of us, as the trends we recognized then have grown from a light but significant breeze to a strong tailwind.

If the recent past has shown us anything, big data today is what oil was at the turn of the 20th century. It has the potential to unlock transformative economic growth for us all–but it also has the potential to pose tremendous, even existential, risks. Legal departments have the experience, training, and skills needed to help enterprises navigate both the opportunities and pitfalls along the path ahead of us–and Exterro will be there to give them the technology they need to find the way.

This recent acquisition has given us an opportunity to celebrate our successes and the resources we need to take the next steps. I’m looking forward to talking a little more about what we see unfolding and the next steps in this exciting journey later this week. Stay tuned!

Sign Up for Alerts

Get notified when new content for specific topics is available.

Sign Up