Houston Enterprise Software Co. Acquires Silicon Valley-Based Competitor

This article originally appeared on Houston Business Journal.

Houston-based Onit Inc., a fast-growing enterprise software firm, acquired Mountain View, California-based SimpleLegal, the company announced May 13.

The acquisition comes after Onit secured a $200 million private equity investment from Los Angeles-based K1 Investment Management LLC in January. Onit’s acquisition of SimpleLegal, which provides a legal operations management platform for corporate legal departments, represents the Houston tech company’s first expansion into Silicon Valley. SimpleLegal’s product, support and services will continue uninterrupted for its customers, according to a May 13 press release.

Eric Elfman, co-founder and CEO of Onit, told the Houston Business Journal that SimpleLegal was Onit’s “primary up-and-coming competitor” and that Onit had been keeping its eye on the company for a number of years. K1’s private equity investment helped make the SimpleLegal acquisition possible, he said.

“We’d been watching [SimpleLegal] from the sidelines as they’ve gotten bigger, and we started saying, ‘I wonder if there’s an acquisition here?'” Elfman said. “It’s possible, but [SimpleLegal] would never really talk until the K1 transaction. Then it started to get serious about three months ago.”

SimpleLegal has around 55 employees, and the company’s management will remain intact. Elfman will serve as CEO of the merged firm, and Nathan Wenzel, co-founder and former CEO of SimpeLegal, will serve as the general manager of SimpleLegal, per the release.

“Today, corporations spend more than $160 billion on their in-house legal teams. The combination of Onit and SimpleLegal is a game-changer for the legal market and the future of legal operations,” Wenzel said in the release.

Elfman said that while Onit typically provides services for legal, compliance, sales, IT, HR and finance departments for companies with revenues of over $5 billion, SimpleLegal focuses on small to medium-sized businesses. In the past five years, SimpleLegal has helped legal departments process over $1 billion annually and manage nearly 500,000 legal matters globally, per the release.

Looking forward, Elfman plans to continue growing Onit both organically and through acquisitions.

“You’re going to see us adding companies from across the country and across the globe here over the next couple of years,” Elfman said. “So this is just the start.”

Onit was featured on the 2018 Inc. 5000 list of the fastest-growing private companies in the U.S. — the company’s revenue grew a reported 327 percent from 2014 to 2017, when it reached $10.3 million. With offices in Houston, Austin and India, Onit has around 180 employees. Onit was founded in 2010, and SimpleLegal was founded in 2013.

In March, Onit announced that co-founder Eric Smith, formerly chief technology officer, would transition to COO and chief security officerChris Fields, formerly of California-based Innovative Interfaces, joined as Onit’s CTO.

In October 2018, the Houston Business Journal reported that Onit would relocate from its Heights-area headquarters to sublease space from BHP Billiton (NYSE: BHP) in the Galleria/Uptown area. Elfman said that Onit left its former office space at 601 Sawyer in early October to move into the 22nd floor of 1360 Post Oak Blvd., where the company occupies 20,509 square feet of BHP’s sublease space.