Contact: Ben Kolada
In another sign of growing interest in the digital media sector, and in Internet companies in particular, Getty Images has announced that its management and The Carlyle Group are acquiring the company from Hellman & Friedman for $3.3bn. The consortium is paying nearly 40% more for the company than H&F did just four years ago when it took Getty private in a $2.4bn deal. The deal is the largest Internet content and commerce acquisition since Silver Lake Partners and Warburg Pincus announced in May 2010 that they were taking Interactive Data Corp private for $3.4bn.
With the exception of a dip in 2003, M&A volume in the broad Internet content and commerce category has risen every year since we began tracking tech acquisitions in 2002. Unlike the greater tech sector, Internet deal volume was even resilient during the recent recession. According to The 451 M&A KnowledgeBase, while overall yearly tech M&A volume dropped 25% from its high of 4,032 transactions announced in 2006 to 3,020 in 2008, Internet M&A volume rose 10.5% over the same period.
Both older Internet properties and hot upstarts are attracting interest. The advent of social media has enabled today’s Internet startups to rapidly market their products to millions of consumers through powerful word of mouth marketing. Meanwhile, older Internet vendors that survived the tech industry’s nuclear winter a decade ago have now matured, and many are seeking liquidity.
Also driving M&A activity is the rise of serial Internet acquirers such as Google, which has picked up 31 Internet firms. And we’re seeing a resurgence of Internet consolidation shops, such as Rebellion Media and MITRE.
Internet content and commerce annual deal volume
Source: The 451 M&A KnowledgeBase
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-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