Axiom Hires Microsoft Vet as Technology Officer

The alternative legal services provider Axiom announced on Monday it has hired a Microsoft veteran as its first chief technology officer.

Doug Hebenthal, who was a founding member of the Microsoft team that developed the Xbox and departed in 2012, will be based in Seattle with CEO Elena Donio.

In an interview, Donio said Axiom decided to create the CTO position and hire Hebenthal because it is planning to ramp up investment in technology solutions and hire more programmers for its contract management services.

Hebenthal said his experience is as a technology project manager, who works with customers to figure out what goals they have and then works to help create product solutions.

He spent two decades at Microsoft before leaving in 2012 to join Amazon as a director of engineering, working on its payments platform, according to his LinkedIn bio. In 2014, he departed and joined the pharmaceutical company Change Healthcare, as a networking engineer, until it was acquired by McKesson Corp. earlier this year. Now, he said he is looking forward to helping corporations take advantage of technology to meet their need for legal services.

“There is a real analog to digital conversion that’s going to take place” in the legal industry, said Hebenthal.

As an example, he cited a service Axiom already provides to corporate clients in the midst of a merger: An acquiring company might hire a team of paralegals and attorneys to read through all the contracts of a target company, and then categorize the contracts, for example, by whether or not the contracts have indemnification agreements. That information helped the company quantify the risk, but can be expensive in many situations, Hebenthal said. 

Now, Axiom is hoping to replace such “artisanal” solutions, as he called them, with automated computer solutions that can use pattern recognition and other technology to index a set of contracts based on various risk factors.

Big Law Business previously covered how Axiom developed software for banks and other financial institutions that deal in uncleared derivatives. Those companies faced a slew of new regulations around the world, which came into effect earlier this year, and the companies needed to rewrite contracts to make sure they were in compliance.

Donio said Axiom plans to use its software solutions in new scenarios, such as helping pharmaceutical companies conducting clinical tests on drugs understand their contracts.

“We provide a portfolio level view of risk,” she said, as opposed to analyzing single contracts.

Contact the reporter responsible for this story: Gabe Friedman at gabefriedman@outlook.com.

Contact the editor responsible for this story: Casey Sullivan at csullivan@bloomberglaw.com.

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