See more of the story

Merrill Corp. has spent several years divesting its legacy printing businesses to remake itself as a virtual data room for those going through mergers and acquisitions.

On Tuesday, it changed its name to Datasite to reflect its primary product of the same name. The software allows mergers-and-acquisition professionals to collaborate and share documents via a secure online location.

"For us it's a five-year journey. The brand-name change is kind of the final step in the journey," said Rusty Wiley, president and CEO of Datasite.

The company over five years built the new technology platform to be a 100% service supported by SaaS technology with secure collaboration services while at the same time shedding its financial and regulatory printing businesses.

"We knew this [name change] was going to happen three years ago, but we didn't want a brand that wasn't completely aligned with what we are," Wiley said. "We had to get rid of all the businesses that weren't core to that."

With the final printing business sold in 2018 and a move from its longtime home in St. Paul to the Baker Center in downtown Minneapolis earlier this year, it was time to convert the company name to reflect its business.

Disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic had them rethinking the timing of the name change.

"We went back and forth about should we stop this, but you put so much in motion to launch a new brand, pausing it is really painful," Wiley said. "Most know us, the people who use our product, as Datasite anyway."

The move to the Baker Center centralized almost 400 employees including product-development teams, services teams and finance and accounting teams who were working in offices in St. Paul and the North Loop. The company has a total of 750 employees in 25 offices and 13 countries.

But almost as soon as the local teams came together and began to gain the benefits of closer collaboration, the COVID-19 threat sent those employees to work from home and postponed a grand-opening celebration for the new space.

For a company whose chief product is remote work software and support, the move to work-from-home was a little easier than for some other companies, but still not ideal.

Investments in new communication technology for the move to the new office had immediate benefits when Datasite sent people to work from home, the company said.

"We've been able to move the whole company to a work-from-home model. We can really do 100% of what we can do when we have an office," Wiley said. "Now you certainly don't want to have this environment for a whole host of reasons."

Wiley acknowledged some bumps since everybody has a different work-from-home environment. "Everything is working quite well, once we got through a couple of startup issues," Wiley said.

Patrick Kennedy • 612-673-7926