Autonomy announced on 21 January 2009 that it will acquire Interwoven. 

The Autonomy press release spells out the rationale for the acquisition:

“The combination of Autonomy’s Meaning Based Computing technologies (IDOL) (with its ability to understand content) with Interwoven’s suite of products (focussed [sic] on managing the interactions of people and content) will create a new set of technologies, updating and enhancing Interwoven’s products by significantly reducing the levels of manual effort now required… Interwoven’s products know what the customer interactions are, and Autonomy’s IDOL will allow them to know what they mean…. The combination creates the largest company dedicated to the legal information management industry with over 20,000 customers including 1,200 top law firms…. Autonomy and Interwoven have a shared vision to develop the next generation of legal and compliance software, allowing businesses to further automate the organisation, management and processing of human friendly information (text, forms, emails, voice and video) from disparate internal and external repositories. Interwoven is already a user of Autonomy technology within its products, and there are many joint customers already in place, including Bank of America, Bayer, Deutsche Bank, DLA Piper, Shell, Tesco and White & Case.”

I’m not 100% sure what this means but the combination is interesting. Autonomy is heavily advertising its e-discovery products in legal and general publications. Interwoven is a very strong player in law firm document management (and appears to have won market share from OpenText recently). That said, in large law firms, e-discovery and DM purchasing decisions are typically quite distinct. Also, firms change DM much less frequently than they do e-discovery tools.

Interesting questions include:

  • Can Autonomy use Interwoven contacts to sell law firms e-discovery systems?
  • Will Interwoven DM users get new search options?
  • Does this reflect convergence of content management and e-discovery more generally?
  • Will this change BigLaw KM strategies?
  • Will this present new and better options for corporate compliance managers?
  • Will this drive other acquisitions? I can imagine that managers at companies such as OpenText, Recommind, Attenex, Clearwell, Kazeon, and others are reading about this acquisition with interest.
  • Will new e-discovery features emerge, either from combining technologies or the financial heft of a bigger player?

More questions than answers until I can ponder the news further.