Thursday, January 10, 2013

Knowledge Mosiac: What Did LexisNexis Buy and Why DId They Buy It? What Will They Do With It? The Race for Content Continues

My first reaction to the LexisNexis purchase of Knowledge Mosaic was. "but why?" Doesn't Lexis already have much of the same content as KM in their own mega system, so why buy redundant content? My second reaction was a chill running down my spine as I recalled  the last time a mega vendor purchased a small securities research product ...it got really ugly. The Westlaw purchase of LivEdgar GSI was voted the second worst legal publishing merger by readers of this blog.. ( I personally voted for it as the absolute worst merger).

Ghosts of GSI/LivEdgar. In July 2005 Westlaw purchased Global Securities Information  which had developed the much beloved LivEdgar securities research product. GSI  had roots back to the pre-online days when 10Ks were retrieved by human hands conducting research in SEC reading room. in Washington, DC.  GSI had an extraordinary staff of expert researchers who delivered extraordinary client service . The staff had developed the trust of their clients in handling complex, "bet the farm" research projects to be delivered on short deadlines. Somehow WL overlooked the experience and "good will "resident in the GSI staff and within a short time the staff was gutted and the product began a long exile into the wilderness of lost products, lurching through a series of  name changes and reverses in strategic direction.

What did Lexis Buy And Why Did They Buy it?

Were they buying content, customers, technology or vision? Would they heed the hard lessons of the Westlaw/GSI deal? I spoke with Lexis executives, Karin Lieber, VP Sales, Strategic Accounts and Jeff Wallace who was appointed VP/GM Knowledge Mosaic to seek the answers to these questions. Wallace  had previously headed up the LexisNexis File and Serve product  before it was divested by Lexis.

According to Lieber and Wallace, the Knowledge Mosaic staff are considered key assets in the acquisition. They expect the KM employees to stay. Even Peter Schwartz, former President of Knowledge Mosaic will remain active in providing strategic advice on future developments, although he will not be involved in day to day operations. Schwartz's role is still evolving. And yes they hope that Peter will continue writing his very unique customer communications.

Lieber acknowledged that Lexis does indeed have much of the same content, as Knowledge Mosaic, but they were looking well beyond the content assets.   Lexis was interested in acquiring the  KM expertise and the processes for tagging and mark up of regulatory materials which they recognize as uniquely tailored to securities research. The KM staff has a unique knowledge of the needs of securities researchers.Lieber also pointed out that KM had expanded well beyond SEC materials and that KM had unique approaches to collecting a wide array of federal agency materials. They had in fact amassed a collection of special agency documents which were not widely available.

Is this part of a grand Lexis strategy ? How do the recent alliances and acquisitions hang together?

Lexis had entered into an exclusive alliance with American Lawyer Media in 2011. ALM  publishers newsletters, treatises and industry analysis. This was followed by the purchase of  newsletter publisher Portfolio Media with the suite of  Law360   newsletters in early 2012.  Was the purchase of KM part of larger "current awareness" strategy? Lieber acknowledged the similarities to the Law360 deal in which they also focused on the acquisition of people processes and content. In both cases the goal is to allow the unique cultures at Law360 and KM to remain independent and thrive. Lieber also acknowledged that since Lexis was a pioneer in developing technologies and platforms for legal content "push" and current awareness it is not a coincidence that they have recognized the value of leading edge news sources.  Lexis pioneered the first legal "push" product known as "eclipse"  in 1984 and "Tracer" in 1995 and "Publisher" in 2000.

What's to come?

Pricing There are  no immediate plans to change the pricing but Lieber acknowledged that as they focus on increasing functionality this will increase the value, which will in turn  impact price.

Stand Alone Knowledge Mosaic will remain an independent offering for the foreseeable future.

Content Development Acknowledging the deep subject matter expertise of the the KM staff, Wallace expects that these experts will provide guidance in developing new functionality for existing and future products. They are  in the process of developing a litigation focused product.

Integration. They anticipate that they will find ways to integrate KM with  LexisNexis Practice Advisor Solutions for securities and M&A. A key concern is that any integration with Lexis products should not diminish the functionality of KM.

Mums the Word They acknowledged that they had more ideas incubating which they were not prepared to discuss. However they  insisted that customer needs would guide their priorities.

Market Implications

After talking withe the LexisNexis executives I saw a greater similarity between the LexisNexis /Knowledge Mosaic deal  with the recently announced acquisition of PLC by Thomson Reuters.  Knowledge Mosaic has the potential for tying into a drafting solution such as Lexis Nexis  Practice Advisor and more directly compete with PLC as it gets integrated into TR's drafting tools.
While content remains king, it is becoming clear that the ability to deliver both content and process improvement is will drive the next wave of product solutions.

Related posts:
The Race for Content Continues: Thomson Reuters Acquires Practical Law Company;
Lexis Announces Acquisition of Law360;
The Worst Legal Publishing Merger: Can the Virtuous Circle Be Unbroken?

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