HighQ has received $50m in private equity investment from One Peak Partners, Morgan Stanley Expansion Capital and Goldman Sachs Private Capital. Its first-ever external funding round, this substantial investment will help HighQ to accelerate its product development and global expansion, particularly in the U.S, where it has hired Norton Rose Fulbright’s legal technology innovation architect Ryan McClead.
The software-as-a-service collaboration and content management solutions provider, which was set up in 2001 by Ajay Patel and ex-business partner Veenay Shah and now employs 180 people globally, will spend a third of the investment money on the research and development work being run out of Ahmedabad in India.
The remaining money will be spent on investment in HighQ’s infrastructure including its data centres, and on its sales and marketing, where it will be making a significant number of hires, many of which will be in the U.S.
U.S. expansion will include setting up an office on the West Coast and increasing HighQ’s presence on the East Coast by growing its New York office. Other plans include setting up an office in the Midwest, most likely in Chicago.
HighQ will be hiring staff across all levels as it looks to both consolidate its position as a market leader within the private practice legal sector and accelerate its growth in other verticals, particularly the corporate counsel market and among financial institutions.
A representative from each of HighQ’s three investors will have a position on the board and HighQ will also be hiring a chief revenue officer. There will be no further changes to the HighQ board and Patel will remain as CEO.
McClead approached HighQ shortly after global CIO Sheila Doyle announced her departure for Deloitte last year. HighQ’s chief strategy officer Stuart Barr said: “Ryan’s hire is slightly coincidental but fits in perfectly with our strategy of U.S expansion.”
A key part of McClead’s role will include evangelism both with existing and potential clients to articulate how HighQ’s products can help them. However, McClead, who at Norton Rose Fulbright has used HighQ Publisher to create products for clients by combining bits of different and often emerging technology, said: “I’ll be building relationships with a lot of smaller tech companies and advising on how to bring them together to create products for HighQ’s customers.”
Going forward, product development will be focused on HighQ Collaborate and HighQ Publisher as well as its Dataroom technology. Barr added: “As part of our roadmap we will be bringing the products closer so they form a more integrated stack. That has been the strategy for a while but now we will be able to do more and simultaneously.”
HighQ started out in 2001 with three people and has grown organically since then. By 2009 the company still only employed around 10 people, but as the legal industry began accepting cloud technology its numbers grew exponentially and it now has over 100 members of staff in India; 45 in London; 10 in the US; and eight across its other European offices in Amsterdam and Frankfurt. The company’s blue chip client base includes over 40% of the global top 100 law firms and some of the largest global financial institutions.
“This is a significant milestone in HighQ’s history and the beginning of an exciting new era for the company,” said Patel.
“We had a lot of interest in the company and when it came to choosing a partner, it had to be right and with people we felt we could work with. We’re really happy with the team we’ve chosen as partners.”
“At One Peak, we seek to partner with exceptional management teams of successful, rapidly growing and innovative technology companies”, said Humbert de Liedekerke and David Klein, co-founders and Managing Partners of One Peak. “We have been very impressed with the achievements and growth of HighQ to date. Our investment will help the company further consolidate its leadership position in the legal sector and accelerate its expansion into financial services and other verticals. We look forward to building on the considerable success already achieved by the management team, and to supporting HighQ in its next phase of growth.”