The HaystackID Era? Four Eras of eDiscovery

Editor’s Note: HaystackID recently had an opportunity to attend and participate in the annual ILTACON 2019 event held from August 18-22, in Orlando, Florida. As part of our participation, HaystackID had an occasion to share on the topic of eDiscovery business trends as part of the first Litigation Support Day hosted by ILTA and led by David Hasman of Bricker & Eckler, David Horrigan of Relativity, and Philip Weldon of Fried Frank. Provided below is a short overview of content prepared to support the HaystackID presentation on industry trends as part of the Litigation Support Day State of the Union discussion.

Four Eras of eDiscovery? One Approach to Framing Market Growth

Typically used to highlight a span of time for purposes of chronology or historiography, the word era is defined by the Dictionary as a period identified by some prominent figure or characteristic feature. In researching data points on the size of the eDiscovery market from its inception through the reasonably forecastable future, it appears to be clear that, at best, the market can generally be described as one that has experienced an initial accelerated growth period followed by periods of strong, steady, and controlled growth. However, what seems less clear is how one might frame, describe, and delineate each of these growth periods, or eras, for study, comparison, and discussion.

With the understanding that there are many ways to construct a framework for considering and conversing about market growth over time, provided below in a talking point format* is one era-based approach that may be helpful for deconstructing time frames, market size, growth rates, and investment pulse rates for the eDiscovery market from 2002 through 2023. This era-based approach also attempts to put a memorable “face” on each defined growth period by associating each era with one prominent eDiscovery platform from that era.**

Talking Points

Four Eras of eDiscovery: A General Chronological Overview 

+ The Concordance Era: 2002-2009
+ The Clearwell Era: 2009-2012
+ The Relativity Era: 2012-2018
+ The Next* Era: 2018-2023

The Concordance Era: Characterized by accelerated growth of a new market.

+ General Time Frame: 2002-2009
+ Estimated Market Size in 2002: $0.3B
+ Estimated Market Size in 2009: $3B
+ Market Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR): 38.95%
+ Technologies adapted for eDiscovery (1st Generation Platforms) or designed for specific tasks in eDiscovery (2nd Generation Platforms).
+ Estimated Merger, Acquisition, and Investment (M&A+I) Events in eDiscovery: 69 (2002 – 2009)

Figure 1: Market Size in the Concordance Era

The eDiscovery Market – The Concordance Era (2002-2009)

The Clearwell Era: Characterized by the strong growth of an expanding market.

+ General Time Frame: 2009-2012
+ Estimated Market Size in 2009: $3B
+ Estimated Market Size in 2012: $4.73B
+ Market CAGR: 16.39%
+ Technologies designed for specific tasks in eDiscovery (2nd Generation Platforms) or designed to integrate multiple tasks in eDiscovery (3rd Generation Platforms).
+ Estimated M&A+I Events in eDiscovery: 91 (2010-2012)

Figure 2: Market Size in the Clearwell Era

The eDiscovery Market – The Clearwell Era (2009-2012)

The Relativity Era: Characterized by the steady growth of an established market.

+ General Time Frame: 2012-2018
+ Estimated Market Size in 2012: $4.73B
+ Estimated Market Size in 2018: $10.11B
+ Market CAGR: 13.5%
+ Technologies designed to integrate multiple tasks in eDiscovery (3rd Generation Platforms) and designed for task automation (4th Generation Platforms).
+ Estimated M&A+I Events in eDiscovery: 203 (2013-2018)

Figure 3: Market Size in the Relativity Era

The eDiscovery Market – The Relativity Era (2012-2018)

The Next*** Era: Characterized by the controlled growth of an entrenched market.

+ General Time Frame 2018-2023
+ Estimated Market Size in 2018: $10.11B
+ Estimated Market Size in 2023: $18.7B (Forecast)
+ Market CAGR: 13.09% (Forecast)
+ Technologies designed for integration and automation of eDiscovery (4th Generation Platforms) and adopted to extend beyond traditional trigger-event initiated legal discovery to data-creation initiated data discovery (5th Generation Platforms).
+ Estimated M&A+I Events in eDiscovery: 34 (2019)

Figure 4: Market Size in the Next Era

The eDiscovery Market – The Next Era (2018-2023)

Post Script: Framing the eDiscovery Market

There are many excellent resources for considering chronological and historiographical approaches to framing the eDiscovery market. This talking point approach developed around four eras of eDiscovery is only one of many ways to reflect on market growth over time. And it is highlighted only to serve as a potential starting point and a stimulus point for thoughtful research, descriptions, and discussions around this established segment of the legal technology market.

HaystackID: Your Resource for the Next Era of eDiscovery

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About HaystackID

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* A Talking Point Format is essentially an expanded outline that contains clear and easily remembered phrases and facts designed to help keep a presenter on topic.

The prominent association for each era could have just as easily been leading companies, notable developments, or pre-eminent delivery models, however, there are characteristics of the named eDiscovery platforms that transcend their specific capabilities and speak to era-wide offering characteristics.

*** The Next Era serves as the initial designation of the near term time frame from 2018-2023 where innovation and internationalization will be key drivers of sustained industry growth. The platform or engine that will define the next era is still to be determined as only time can provide the insight to name the era appropriately.


+ (2019). Era. [online] Available at: [Accessed 13 Aug. 2019].

+ (2019). Definition of ERA. [online] Available at: [Accessed 13 Aug. 2019].

+ Austin, D. (2012). eDiscovery Trends: What Do Investment Bankers Think About the eDiscovery Industry? – CloudNine. [online] The eDiscovery Daily Blog. Available at: [Accessed 13 Aug. 2019].

+ Robinson, R. (2019). ComplexDiscovery. Available at: [Accessed 13 Aug. 2019].