Microsoft has acquired Equivio, a provider of e-discovery solutions, for an undisclosed amount, announced Rajesh Jha, corporate vice president of Microsoft Outlook and Office 365.
The deal was months in the making. On Oct. 7, Bloomberg reported that Microsoft had signed a letter of intent to acquire the company in a deal priced at under $200 million. Equivio is headquartered in Rosh Ha'Ayin, Israel, and operates a customer support unit in Rockville, Md.
"We are making this acquisition to help our customers tackle the legal and compliance challenges inherent in managing large quantities of email and documents," said Jha in a Jan. 20 blog post. The deal was prompted, in large part, by the ever-increasing amount of data enterprises are generating as part of their routine day-to day operations.
"Businesses and governments around the world generate enormous volumes of data every day. Sifting through that data to find what is relevant to a legal or compliance matter is costly and time-consuming," Jha said. "Traditional techniques for finding relevant documents are falling behind as the growth of data outpaces peoples' ability to manually process it."
In a brief statement posted on Equivio's home page, the company wrote, "When we launched Equivio, we had a vision to deliver innovative text analysis software to the legal market. … By joining Microsoft, we will now have the opportunity to help many more customers layer these technologies into their standard operational and business practices."
Equivio's platform aligns with the Redmond, Wash.-based software maker's recent efforts to commercialize its machine learning-based innovations, many of which hail from its Microsoft Research unit.
Last year, John Platt, Microsoft distinguished scientist and manager of the machine learning department at Microsoft Research, revealed that his company was focused on incorporating its machine learning tech into its broader product portfolio. Not only has machine learning taken root in the company's research operations, "but machine learning is pretty much pervasive throughout all Microsoft products. So whenever you use a Microsoft product, you're using a system that's been generated from machine learning," he told attendees of the GigaOm Structure Data conference at the time.
Since then, Microsoft has used the technology to improve data security and search, enhance Office's collaborative capabilities and even launch a cloud-based machine learning service called Azure ML for organizations seeking to build big data-driven predictive analytics solutions. Microsoft is now banking on the tech to firm up its own e-discovery solutions and help its customers stay on the right side of the law as they conduct business.
"Microsoft is serious about providing customers with tools to manage the legal and compliance requirements that are key to responsible business practices," said Jha. "Office 365 includes robust eDiscovery and information governance capabilities today, and we'll use Equivio's machine learning technology to make these vital tools even more intelligent and easy to use in the months ahead."
According to Jha, Equivio has established a firm foothold on the e-discovery market. "Equivio customers include U.S. federal agencies and hundreds of law firms, corporations and other organizations," he stated.