Just last week, I reported here about the name change of Axiom Managed Services, one of two companies spun off last year from alternative legal services provider Axiom. With its new name, Factor, and a “doubling down” by two long-term investors, the company characterized the move as a relaunch to position it for rapid growth.
Now the company, which has operated without a formal chief executive officer since last year’s spin-off, has named the person who will lead it into this period of ambitious investment and growth.
The company is announcing today that Varun Mehta, 34, has been appointed CEO. A graduate of Boston University in biomedical engineering, Mehta has worked in the legal technology industry since 2008, when he helped found the Clutch Group, an e-discovery managed services firm, and served as its executive vice president and CRO.
Mehta helped lead the Clutch Group to over $55 million in annual revenue, a staff of 500, and seven offices worldwide.
In 2017, Clutch merged with Morae Legal, an e-discovery and information-governance consulting company, and Mehta became president of the combined company, called Morae Global.
Since 2018, Mehta has been an investor in and advisor to businesses. He is on the advisory board of Bodhala, which provides spend-management technology for corporate legal departments.
Speaking by phone yesterday from London, where he was attending the CLOC Institute, Mehta told me that his interest in legal technology grew out of his research and development work as a biomedical engineer, where he was exposed to the inefficiencies of the patent process.
Describing himself as an entrepreneur by nature, he said that when the opportunity came up to help found Clutch and work in legal technology, he jumped at it. He knew little about the legal industry at that point, he told me, “except that I wanted to be part of fixing it.”
He immersed himself in learning about the industry, reading thousands of articles, speaking with customers, and attending industry events. “It was a great learning experience,” he said.
Although Clutch was an e-discovery company, it was while there that he became interested in the potential of technology to innovate the contract space, he said. “We saw an opportunity to be an enabler, to help businesses with the area where they wanted to do better.”
Going forward, Mehta believes the opportunity for Factor is to take the solid base of the managed services business Axiom built over the past decade and scale it.
“It’s clear we have some very talented people,” Mehta said. “We’ve unlocked and understood how to deliver this complex legal work at scale.” Now the challenge is to add more levels of tech to that stack, to add more tools to fit for different purposes, and take the best practices the company has learned to a broader market.
Factor’s backers have said they plan to double down on their investments in the company. I asked Mehta where the company will focus.
“A few key areas,” he said. “First is we have great teams across our centers. We’ll double down on that. We’ll continue to focus on business excellence – how can we do what we do already, but better. We’ll double down on our tech stack, our tools and technology. And we’re getting better about data – we want to put data behind anecdote and conjecture.”
I asked Mehta about the extent to which Factor will continue to work with Axiom. He point out that Mark Harris, cofounder of Axiom and now CEO of the other Axiom spin-off, Knowable, is on Factor’s board, and said he has already met with Axiom’s CEO Elena Donio.
He expects that some customers who use Axiom for the talent they provide will also want the more hybrid people-and-tech solution that Factor provides. “We look to partner with Axiom but continue to build ourselves up.”
Asked what he sees as the biggest challenge to growing Factor, he said it is the high level of cautious skepticism among corporate counsel.
“The biggest challenge I see is how willing, excited and forthright are general counsel going to be about wanting to do something different,” Mehta said, “and where does a business like Factor fit into that stack.”
Referring to the kinds of contractual matters Factor handles, such as NDAs and vendor agreements, Mehta said, “If we can show them that we can do that better at scale, with the right tech and data around it, then there is opportunity.”
LawNext Episode 56: Mark Harris, Axiom Founder and Now Knowable CEO