From Artificial Lawyer, 12/03/2021.
‘We have the same vision,’ explains Grégoire Debit the CEO of Closd, the Paris-based deal management platform that was sold to LexisNexis yesterday and is dedicated to making the legal work in transactions simpler and more efficient for all involved.
So how did this all come about?
‘We raised money in 2020, just before France went into its first lockdown. That helped with hiring and growing during Covid. But, we also have competitors in the US, UK and worldwide. So we have been accelerating and we also have needed funds [to do that],’ Debit (pictured above) says.
These competitors are Closing Folders, which has moved into iManage, Doxly which is now part of Litera, and to some extent, HighQ, which was bought by Thomson Reuters.
As you can see, there is a pattern emerging here. Debit left leading French firm Gide in 2017, from there he went on to co-found what would become Closd. It really got into its stride in 2019 and got Seed funding of €600,000 in March 2020.
It was doing well, but has remained fairly small, with nine staff listed on LinkedIn.
As one can appreciate, competing with the likes of iManage and Litera was going to be tricky without more rocket fuel and the ability to scale more rapidly.
‘The company has been doing great, and we have clients across Europe. But we needed to grow. We talked to a lot of funds and corporates, and we also spoke to LexisNexis in 2020. They were the best discussions we had,’ he explains.
Discussions turned into M&A negotiations, and now LexisNexis has bought Closd for an undisclosed sum.
‘LexisNexis wants to grow its workflow capabilities, both organically and by acquisitions. LexisNexis has been a business that is more focused on content, but now they are moving to more of a SaaS approach and legal tech is a booming sector,’ Debit adds.
Debit also notes that there are some interesting developments to come from out of the LexisNexis stable. All he can say for now is that: ‘They are developing a lot of tech internally and we will integrate with that.’
‘They have business intelligence solutions and AI solutions developed internally, but which are not in products yet.’
And that sounds intriguing indeed.
Then add this to what Philippe Carillon, President of LexisNexis Continental Europe, Middle East and Africa, said yesterday: ‘Closd has quickly become a top-tier provider of legal transaction management. Its technological edge in legal workflow management, data rooms and electronic signatures will be combined with our own strengths in advanced technologies and content to deliver products that enable our customers to work in more effective and efficient ways. This acquisition is in line with our organic growth driven strategy, supported by acquisitions of analytics and workflow automation solutions that are natural additions to our existing business.’
Combined together we have a picture of LexisNexis really growing its legal tech offering beyond content, and really getting into workflows.
But, back to Closd.
‘LexisNexis is a giant and we can now grow into a lot of markets, and we can scale because deal processes are similar all over the world,’ Debit says, and adds that the UK and US will be growth areas, as well as the rest of Europe and also the Middle East.
On the last point, Closd was bought by LexisNexis CEMEA, or Continental Europe, Middle East and Africa, so there naturally will be a lot of focus on those markets.
As to the staffing and base, they will stay in Paris and the team will stay as well. Debit adds that LexisNexis appreciates their entrepreneurial spirit and they want to keep this. The brand will also stay in place.
Debit concludes: ‘We will keep our vision.’
And that is a vision all about simplifying transactions, which they share with LexisNexis. It will be fascinating to see what comes out of this new strategic push into workflows by one of the world’s legal tech giants.