Symantec ‘discovers’ Kazeon?

We hear Symantec, which has already inked five deals so far this year, may be getting close to another acquisition. Several sources have indicated that Big Yellow is planning to bolster its e-discovery offering through a purchase of startup Kazeon Systems. The two companies have been partners for a year, with Kazeon able to integrate with Symantec’s Enterprise Vault and Enterprise Vault Discovery Accelerator. Mountain View, California-based Kazeon has raised some $51m in venture backing from a handful of firms, including Redpoint Ventures, Clearstone Venture Partners and Menlo Ventures, which led the startup’s second round.

Several large technology vendors have already made e-discovery acquisitions, running up a tab of about a half-billion dollars in the past year alone. Most recently, Interwoven snagged on-demand e-discovery startup Discovery Mining. In the past, we have speculated that NetApp, which at one point accounted for more than half of Kazeon’s revenue through an OEM arrangement, would be a logical buyer of Kazeon. (We would note, however, that NetApp’s share of total sales at Kazeon has declined in recent months.)

While the e-discovery marketplace is relatively crowded, there are also several key challenges for companies looking to sell in this space. For starters, e-discovery products don’t immediately appeal to departments that must budget to buy software, such as IT or finance. The end user of the e-discovery software, which in many cases is a company’s general counsel, may not have the authority to write a check for an offering that can run $100,000 and up. We recently spoke with a venture capitalist who pulled the plug on an e-discovery startup in his portfolio. He pointed out that e-discovery projects are still largely taken on by service providers and companies have been slow to move that work in-house with purchased software. Recognizing this last fact, Kazeon has inked a number of service partners for its e-discovery products.

Selected e-discovery deals over the past year

Date Acquirer Target Deal value
July 2008 Interwoven Discovery Mining $36m
March 2008 Hewlett-Packard Tower Software $100m
February 2008 Dell MessageOne $155m
December 2007 Seagate Metalincs $74m
October 2007 Iron Mountain Stratify $158m

Source: The 451 M&A KnowledgeBase