-by Thomas Rasmussen, Brenon Daly
Rather than hitting the public markets, Authoria has landed in a private equity (PE) portfolio, where it is slated to serve as the initial plank in a rollup in the fragmented human capital management (HCM) market. PE shop Bedford Funding picked up Authoria last week, after checking out the market for about a year and a half. (The guys behind Bedford know a thing or two about market consolidation. Before hanging out a shingle with their $400m buyout fund, the Bedford directors and principals served as executives at ERP rollup Geac, which gobbled up dozens of companies before getting swallowed in a $1bn LBO.)
Its experience with ERP consolidation will likely come in handy for Bedford because we have noted a number of times that the current HCM market – with more than 50 startups, along with three or four large vendors – bears more than a few similarities to the ERP market earlier this decade. The ranks of ERP companies were thinned quite a bit as both strategic and financial acquirers went on shopping sprees. (Oracle, Microsoft and Lawson have all inked significant ERP acquisitions this decade, while PE-backed Infor and Consona got their ERP rollups started in 2002 and 2003, respectively.)
We suspect a similar wave of consolidation may be heading to the HCM market, which covers all the stages of hiring, from pre-employment screening to succession planning. And it’s not a bad time to be a buyer, since HCM valuations are coming down. (Authoria sold for about 1.3x its trailing sales, just half the level Vurv Technology got in its $128.8m sale to Taleo earlier this year. Granted, that’s only one data point, but we’ve heard from sources that the markdown of multiples is being seen across the sector.) Given that, along with Bedford’s stash of cash, we expect the rollup to get rolling very soon. What might it be looking for? Maybe a small vendor that could bolster Authoria’s offering around the early part of the hiring process, such as talent acquisition or screening.
Significant HCM deals since 2007
|September 29, 2008
|September 16, 2008
|June 9, 2008
||US Investigations Services
|May 6, 2008
|December 21, 2007
||Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Company
||Northgate Information Systems
|February 4, 2007
||Infor Global Solutions
|March 23, 2007
||Hellman & Friedman
Source: The 451 M&A KnowledgeBase *Official 451 Group estimate
While overall tech spending on M&A has fallen about one-third so far this year, the once-bustling leveraged buyout (LBO) business has virtually disappeared. Just how much? It’s literally dimes instead of dollars. Buyout spending has plummeted from more than $100bn during the first three quarters of 2007 to just $12bn so far this year. That’s about the level of LBOs in 2004, before buyout shops were really looking at tech companies and before banks were comfortable lending for deals in the unproven and cyclical industry. (Of course, we have new problems in the credit market these days.)
Still, LBOs are getting done, despite the disappearance of debt and, in some cases, even the banks that were backing the buyouts. Earlier this week, for instance, Bedford Funding took home on-demand talent management vendor Authoria for $63m, the first of what we expect to be several deals by Bedford in the fragmented human capital management market.
Also, Nokia said earlier this week that it plans to sell its security appliance unit to an unnamed financial buyer. Several sources have indicated that one of the lead suitors for Nokia’s firewall and VPN business is Vector Capital. The San Francisco-based buyout shop already has experience with a security hardware company, having teamed with Francisco Partners to acquire WatchGuard Technologies, the maker of the Firebox UTM appliance for the midmarket, for $151m in July 2006.
PE deal flow
Source: The 451 M&A KnowledgeBase