Thomson, owner of West and other legal properties, has acquired Contact Networks. 

The Contact Networks home page has a notice at top:

“Thomson, the world’s leading information company, has acquired Contact Networks, the global leader in Enterprise Relationship Management, providing social networking for the corporate market. Geoffrey Hyatt, CEO and Founder, states “Contact Networks has built a dominant leadership position with ContactNet, the first and most successful product for enterprise social networking. The best companies around the world already use ContactNet to harness the power of their relationship networks. Joining forces with Thomson continues and accelerates this rapid growth with the full resources of a global leader in information and technology.”

In Something for Nothing? Enterprise Relationship Discovery (May 2007) I discussed the value of this category of software. (I spotted this news item at the LawyerKM blog. Surprisingly, I could not find a news release.)

Both LexisNexis and Thomson are bulking up their legal software and practice management offerings. It will be interesting to watch both companies and see if one emerges as the clear winner.

Anytime a large company buys a much smaller one, there are potential trade-offs. On the one hand, it can offer stability and integration across a broader suites of products. On the other hand, it can stiffle innovation, cause confusion, and limit customer service. Thomson has a pretty good track record on this front so I suspect this will be plus for BigLaw customers on balance.

Update (1/21/07): In the last week, I’ve seen numerous references to Thomson’s acquisition of Contact Networks. The Thomson press release about this is dated 1/15/08. You read it here first!