Extract from article from Gibson Dunn (Gareth Evans, Jennifer Rearden, Heather Richardson, Chelsea Mae Thomas, and Natalie Dygert
The consolidation among medium-sized and large e-discovery service providers, usually financed by private equity funding, that has been going on for several years now only seemed to accelerate more in 2017. It is not apparent whether this consolidation is fundamentally altering the market for e-discovery services, other than to possibly result in greater stability in the space once all of the M&A dust settles.
Generally, the market appears to be settling into several different segments: (1) large vendors with a national and often international footprint providing basic, commodity services using mostly standard technologies; (2) medium-sized vendors—also with a national and global footprint—focused on providing both expert e-discovery consulting and professional services as well as standard and more advanced technologies; (3) vendors of “do it yourself” online e-discovery software services (i.e., “SAAS,” aka software as a service), usually targeted at small and medium-sized law firms that now, increasingly, must deal with e-discovery; and (4) traditional local and regional vendors providing basic services, much as they have in the past.
The local and regional vendors seem to be increasingly squeezed in this market, either being acquired by or not able to compete with the large vendors providing commodity services. Notably, it appears that there are far fewer new entrants in e-discovery services market—which used to have relatively low barriers to entry—than in the past. Also, there appears to have been significant maturation of some of the SAAS providers, which appear to be finding a solid niche in a potentially large market segment—small and medium-sized law practices—often not previously serviced by e-discovery providers.