Relativity Buys Text IQ to Boost NLP Capabilities

Relativity, the eDiscovery and compliance pioneer, has bought New York-based Text IQ, a company that has developed a strong capability in natural language processing (NLP) and what it calls Socio-Linguistic Hypergraphs. (See Relativity’s in-depth responses to Artificial Lawyer’s questions below.)

The deal value has not been disclosed, but the strategic value is clear: this acquisition of 70-person Text IQ greatly increases Relativity’s unstructured data analysis, not just for eDiscovery, but also for its Relativity Trace offering, which is designed to analyse the communications of financial sector workers for signs of compliance breaches.

It’s on this latter part of the strategy where the socio-linguistic hypergraphs may be especially useful, as they help to connect people and data across multiple media types.

As to Text IQ’s core focus, the company states that it covers: ‘Detecting privileged information, responsive documents, [and] reputation-damaging information.’

Text IQ appeared to be on a traditional tech company growth trajectory and two years ago it received a healthy Series A funding of $12.6m. Touchdown Ventures, which has one of the strongest legal tech portfolios, invested in the company. The company launched in 2015.

Interestingly, BrainSpace, which is also an expert company in unstructured data analysis was bought by eDiscovery rival, Reveal, in January this year. BrainSpace appears to have some of the key capabilities that Text IQ has, especially in terms of connecting and grouping disparate unstructured data sources. However – see responses below – Relativity explained that this deal was not a trigger for the acquisition of Text IQ.

Is this a big deal? Yep, for sure, and it raises the stakes now in the eDiscovery segment, and perhaps may trigger more M&A deals as rivals jostle to build more powerful platforms, especially in order to gain advanced NLP capabilities.

Interview with Relativity:

– What triggered this deal? Was it the Reveal purchase of BrainSpace earlier this year?

No, the acquisition was not triggered by Reveal buying Brainspace. Text IQ’s founders Apoorv Agarwal and Omar Haroun have known Andrew Sieja since 2014. When they first incorporated their company, Andrew was one of the first people the founding team interviewed after receiving a government grant to commercialise the team’s technology.

Relativity’s leadership team first met Text IQ in early 2018 and was impressed with their leadership team and machine learning expertise. Over the years we stayed close and regularly connected with Text IQ to see how the two companies could partner to bring the best of natural language processing (NLP) and machine learning to our customers.

After extensive conversations, we realised that our customers would benefit from both companies coming together, with Relativity bringing a leading SaaS legal and compliance platform and Text IQ providing world-class machine learning and AI capabilities to power that platform for the benefit of the broader legal and compliance community.  

Is this a change in strategy? 

No, the acquisition will not change our existing strategy. Both Relativity’s and Text IQ’s product offerings will be enhanced by the acquisition. 

Text IQ’s products will bring new AI-powered capability to Relativity that enables customers to quickly and efficiently find privileged documents and to manage data breach response.

Text IQ’s inherent capabilities will augment existing RelativityOne capabilities like entity extraction, name normalisation and PII/PHI identification and redaction. 

Text IQ has deep experience building targeted classifiers to identify very specific communication patterns and behaviours, which is a skillset that Relativity Trace, our AI powered communication surveillance platform is developing.  This capability along with their expertise in NLP and deep learning will enable Relativity Trace to advance its efforts to detect market abuse, market manipulation and other forms of misconduct in communication.  

Ultimately, the combined Relativity and Text IQ team will accelerate both optimisation of existing AI capabilities and development of new AI-driven solutions for e-discovery, investigation, surveillance, privacy and compliance use cases.

– Does this mean Relativity is offering a more complete service now?

Relativity has always been focused on bringing the best and most innovative AI technology to its product suite. Through the acquisition of Text IQ, we are bringing on a team that is second-to-none with half of their engineering team holding advanced degrees in AI and machine learning. These AI researchers and engineers will bring the latest in AI techniques to RelativityOne and Relativity Trace. 

Text IQ’s approach to AI goes beyond the supervised machine learning techniques that are typically used in the industry by applying a combination of techniques, including deep learning, social network analysis (SNA), natural language processing (NLP), unsupervised and self-supervised machine learning to create a layer of structure on unstructured data, and identify sensitive information at scale and with little human input.

Text IQ also develops AI-powered products focused on privilege review and privacy that major global corporations have already implemented to solve their legal, privacy and compliance challenges. Its products help to lower the cost and risk of privilege review, speed up and increase accuracy with data breach response workflows, and quickly identify and handle personally identifiable information (PII) associated with Data Subject Access Requests (DSARs). Text IQ has deep experience building targeted classifiers to identify very specific communication patterns and behaviours, which is a skillset that Relativity Trace is developing.

This capability along with their expertise in NLP and deep learning will enable Relativity Trace to advance its efforts to detect market abuse, market manipulation and other forms of misconduct in communication.

Will you aim at the M&A due diligence space now, given the increased NLP capabilities?

No, it’s business as usual for now. 

Also, in earlier statements, Mike Gamson, Chief Executive Officer at Relativity, commented: ‘We’re merely scratching the surface of what the application of AI to our industry can mean. Our customers recognise that while AI offers immense possibility, it must be thoughtfully designed and applied to address use cases that yield specific business outcomes.

‘We know that Text IQ’s proven technology, coupled with its incredible team of talented professionals, will be a wonderful addition to Relativity and help us deliver even more value to our customers.’

And, Apoorv Agarwal, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer at Text IQ, added: ‘Most of the industry’s legal and compliance data already live within the Relativity ecosystem, which adds to our excitement around increasing Relativity’s customers’ access to our AI models.’

‘The fusion of our companies and technology will deliver on the promise of AI in a way that our industry has yet to experience all while ensuring that ethical and unbiased AI is at the core of everything that we do.’

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