SmashDocs Group Joins Japanese Giant Toppan

The group which owns collaborative doc editing platform, SmashDocs, has become part of the massive Japanese conglomerate, Toppan.

Germany-based smartwork solutions GmbH, which was created by tech entrepreneur Christian Marchsreiter and is the parent company of SmashDocs, has become part of Toppan Merrill, a printing division of Toppan – a 120-year-old company that hit around $1.5 billion in revenues last year.

Key executives, including Marchsreiter, are now operating as part of Toppan Merrill GmbH. The Toppan Merrill brand is based in the US. The move to become part of Toppan appears to have been formalised last month.

SmashDocs was created to improve the doc editing process, so it makes sense that it has been bought by a printing company. The group had made some inroads into the legal market, but it’s not clear if that emphasis will remain in place following the deal. Feedback from the market also suggests that despite their best efforts selling into law firms had not been easy.

The company said in an earlier comment that SmashDocs was created to help with ‘reviewing and negotiating documents, [because] Word and GoogleDocs is still too complicated and inefficient.

‘With its unique technology (patents pending) there’s no more confusion due to changes, versions and emails. And finally no more need for time-consuming file comparisons and annoying proofreading.’

That there has been another legal tech, or at least legal tech adjacent, M&A deal is not a surprise given the current surge in activity. That SmashDocs has found its new home inside an enormous business like Toppan is however less common.

We have seen some deals where legal tech companies join businesses that are many times larger than they are, e.g. eBrevia joining Donnelley Financial Solutions, and more recently Thomson Reuters buying HighQ, but generally there is not usually such as massive difference in size.

Artificial Lawyer reached out to Marchsreiter and Toppan for a formal comment, but has not yet heard back.

(Note: Artificial Lawyer is currently on holiday and will be back in the office on Tuesday, May 4th.)