DLP deal flow

Contact: Brenon Daly, Steve Coplan

When Trustwave recently reached for Vericept, the Chicago-based security services company joined a long list of acquirers of data-loss-prevention (DLP) technology. Over the past three years, we’ve seen roughly a baker’s dozen DLP deals, with the total spending on the transactions hitting $850m, according to our 451 M&A KnowledgeBase. Not surprisingly, both the size and valuations of recent DLP deals have declined sharply, sinking to 1-2 times trailing sales, which is down from a high of about 10x trailing sales.

The list of buyers of DLP, which basically works to snuff out insider threats and control the flow of data, includes all of the obvious IT security giants. Symantec gobbled up Vontu for $350m in November 2007, while McAfee has taken smaller bites. It paid $20m for Onigma in October 2006 and then followed that up almost two years later with the $46m purchase of Reconnex. Additionally, Websense, CA Inc, RSA and even Raytheon have made sizeable DLP acquisitions in recent years.

If we had to guess which large security provider will go shopping next in the DLP space, Check Point would probably be our choice. The vendor, which is best known for its firewall offering, could use additional security on the network edge. Check Point also shifted earlier this year to an appliance model, where distinct software ‘blades’ cover specific security threats. Among other benefits, that makes it much easier to plug acquired technology into Check Point’s existing platform. DLP startups that might be of interest include Verdasys, GuardianEdge and Safend, among others.

Select DLP deals

Date announced Acquirer Target Target revenue Deal value
September 10, 2009 Trustwave Vericept $10m* $20m*
January 5, 2009 CA Inc Orchestria $22m* $30m*
November 5, 2007 Symantec Vontu $30m $350m
October 25, 2007 Trend Micro Provilla Not disclosed $15m*
September 20, 2007 Raytheon Oakley Networks $33m* $193m
August 9, 2007 RSA [EMC] Tablus $6m* $50m*

Source: The 451 M&A KnowledgeBase *451 Group estimate

Deciphering encryption deals

Exactly a year ago, McAfee announced its $350m acquisition of SafeBoot, which in turn came about a year after Check Point Software made its own purchase of an encryption vendor, Protect Data AB. We mention this bit of history because, in what has seemingly become an annual autumn event, Sophos just closed its own big encryption purchase, the $341m deal for Utimaco.

Although the three encryption vendors shared a home market of Europe and were in the same neighborhood in terms of revenue, the three transactions are very different. For starters, the relative growth rates of the targets were all over the board. Protect Data, or Pointsec as it was more commonly known, was clipping along at 90% year-on-year growth when we spoke to them ahead of the takeout. (Although we have heard that some of that torrid growth came at the expense of margins.) Meanwhile, SafeBoot, which was preparing for a possible public offering, told us sales were likely to grow about 70% in the year leading up to its acquisition. In contrast, 20-year-old Utimaco had increased sales just 20% in its most recent fiscal year.

Also, Check Point inked its acquisition of Protect Data when it was running at about $600m in sales. McAfee was even larger, having topped $1bn in annual revenue when it reached for SafeBoot. That’s not the case for Sophos and its just-closed purchase of Utimaco. With Sophos having finished its fiscal year (ending March) with revenue of $213m, it will be looking to integrate a company that is nearly half its size.

Finally, the returns on the two acquisitions already on the books have varied quite a bit. Check Point, which has traditionally been strong on network security, has struggled to notch sales of Pointsec, which secures the endpoint. On the other hand, McAfee has kept SafeBoot rolling along, with one source indicating that the unit will do about $100m in sales this year. The reason: McAfee already had a strong presence on endpoint security, as well as a management console that has integrated SafeBoot. Of those two contrasting acquirers, Sophos lines up more closely with McAfee, which bodes well for its combination with Utimaco. That’s crucial for Sophos, since we consider its purchase of Utimaco a make-or-break deal for the company.

Significant data encryption deals

Date Acquirer Target Price Target revenue
July 2008 Sophos Utimaco $341m $86m
October 2007 McAfee SafeBoot $350m $60m*
November 2006 Check Point Protect Data (Pointsec) $586m $64m

Source: The 451 M&A KnowledgeBase *451 Group estimate