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August – and still no let up in M&A activity

Well it's August, which is meant to be the quiet season in the legal tech market but already we've got two new deals to report.

The first – by about 10 minutes – was the announcement of the acquisition of Whitehill Technologies (best known in the legal market for its document, compliance and billing automation and BPM systems) by Skywire Software of Frisco in Texas. The terms of the transaction, which is expected to be complete on or before 31st August 2007, have not been disclosed. Whitehill is a private company and Skywire is a privately-held subsidiary of the Hall Financial Group.

This is an interesting deal – not least because there is currently a lot of interest in the legal market over Whitehill's new range of BPI business process automation systems (see July issue of Legal Technology Insider) – as Skywire's strategy is to focus on niche vertical markets, with the acquisition of Whitehill marking is debut in the legal IT market.

Earlier today The Orange Rag spoke to Kevin Berry, Whitehill's V-P for legal sales. He said it would be business as usual for Whitehill customers as the company would be retaining its current staff, office locations and product ranges – although some rebranding will inevitably happen – as Skywire's strength is in acquiring and running successful businesses as going concerns. His view is that the announcement was good news for customers as by being part of a larger group (Whitehill has about 200 staff whereas Skywire has 400) there would now be greater resources to put into R&D and support services. The move also gives Whitehill access to a London office, as Skywire is already active in the UK insurance market, and longer term there may be some Skywire products that can be cross-sold into the legal market.

Berry also said the deal would not affect Whitehill's relationship with its UK partner Saturn Legal – and added that the first fruits of this relationship would be announced within the next few weeks. This will include the first competitive swap-out of a Metastorm BPM system for a Whitehill BPI product – Whitehill has already replaced Metastorm in some US sites.

And, talking of Metastorm, 10 minutes after news of the Skywire deal broke, they announced the acquisition of the Proforma Corporation, a leading US provider of enterprise modelling solutions for enterprise architecture (EA) and business process analysis (BPA). Metastorm already operates in the EA and BPA sectors – and it is not immediately apparent what impact, if any, this will have on Metastorm's BPM (business process management/workflow) for which it is best known in the legal market.

For the record, Ron Pellegrino, the president & CEO of Proforma said this about his company… “Proforma has built a strong market presence based on its ability to deliver powerful enterprise architecture, modelling and analysis capabilities that are also intuitive and usable by multiple people within an organisation – from architects to business analysts to Six Sigma Blackbelts”. (We're not sure whether these are Ninja Six Sigma Blackbelts or just Common-or-Garden Six Sigma Blackbelts.)