Could the kCura-Content Analyst Deal Be A Setback for Thomson Reuters’ New E-Discovery Product?


There is a side story worth noting after Monday’s announcement by kCura that it had acquired Content Analyst Company — one that I have not seen mentioned in any of the coverage — and that is the deal’s potential impact on Thomson Reuters.

kCura is the company behind the e-discovery software Relativity. Since 2008, Relativity has used Content Analyst’s analytics software as its integrated analytics engine. Given that longstanding relationship between the two companies, the acquisition made perfect sense.

“We’re like peanut butter and jelly,” kCura CEO Andrew Sieja told Zach Abramowitz at Above the Law.

The problem is, Relativity is not the only platform using Content Analyst’s software.

In January, Thomson Reuters rolled out its new e-discovery platform, eDiscovery Point. Although TR describes it as “a revolutionary new web-based ediscovery software solution” that “was designed from the ground up,” that is not entirely the case.

One component that TR did not build into eDiscovery Point is technology-assisted review (or predictive coding). Instead, TR licensed that component from Content Analyst.

As an aside, some might argue that Content Analyst does not actually have a true TAR product. Its product performs conceptual search, dynamic clustering, deduplication, email threading and language analytics. But it does not do true TAR or predictive coding, as I understand it. So query whether eDiscovery Point has true predictive coding.

Ignoring that issue, the kCura acquisition nonetheless makes things interesting in the e-discovery market.

In an article about the deal on CMSWire, Forrester principal analyst Cheryl McKinnon says kCura purchased Content Analyst because it is striving to strengthen its position as a leader in the e-discovery market.

Needless to say, TR would also like to become a leader in that market. And it is positioning its new platform as unlike anything already out there. (A premise I questioned in an earlier post.)

So here’s where it gets interesting. If TR and kCura are now competitors in an already highly competitive market, and if kCura owns a component of TR’s e-discovery platform that is considered key in the current market, where does that leave TR?

I have no doubt that TR has a licensing agreement firmly in place with Content Analyst. But I also have no doubt that TR is looking very hard right now at building its own TAR platform and perhaps even scrambling to get it done.

As analyst McKinnon suggests in the CMSWire article, when it comes to competition in the e-discovery market these days, it’s all about TAR. It will be tougher for TR to compete in that market as long as it’s using its competitor’s proprietary TAR technology.

“This gives kCura the power to determine not only its own destiny in respect of its analytics roadmap, but may also end up disrupting some of its key competitors’ plans,” McKinnon tells CMSWire.

So if kCura and Content Analyst are like peanut butter and jelly, it’s a combination that may make for a sticky situation for TR.

[Full disclosure: Note that I work as a paid consultant to the e-discovery company Catalyst.]

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  • Jason Wilson

    Bob, do you have any idea what the patent landscape looks like with TAR? I’m just wondering who holds some of the key patents in this space that might make it difficult for a company like TR to build out an entirely new system.