ConnectWise has been acquired by private equity firm Thoma Bravo, with founder and CEO Arnie Bellini set to transition into an advisory role.
Terms of the impending acquisition - which is expected to close on 28 February - will see current president and COO, Jason Magee, become CEO of the company.
While financial details of the transaction were not disclosed, the deal follows more than five years of deliberation by Bellini and the ConnectWise business.
“Five years ago, we began exploring all of the financial options to accelerate the ConnectWise mission and our partners’ success,” Bellini said. “Thoma Bravo was the clear and obvious choice over an Initial Public Offering (IPO) and seven other private equity firms.”
According to Bellini - who founded the company in 1982 - Thoma Bravo is a “premier investor” in software-as-a-service (SaaS) technology, with in-market expertise stretching back nearly 20 years.
“ConnectWise and Thoma Bravo have co-created a multi-year strategy that is aligned with our mission, vision, culture and partners,” Bellini added. “With this new relationship we plan to accelerate our partners’ success worldwide.”
The move comes more than 18 months after the private equity giant acquired industry rival Continuum, an IT management platform also targeting managed service providers (MSPs).
Furthermore, fellow competitor SolarWinds was also snapped up in October 2015 - before going public again in October 2018 - suggesting at a possible link up between the MSP-focused businesses.
Such a move between ConnectWise and Continuum especially would mirror that of Autotask and Datto in October 2017, which unveiled plans to merge in a bid to shake-up the managed services market across the channel.
Currently, Thoma Bravo’s private equity software portfolio includes 35 companies that generate over US$10 billion of annual revenues and employ over 33,500 colleagues around the world.
Other current investments within the technology market include McAfee, Barracuda Networks, Dynatrace and Riverbed, alongside Imperva, Centrify, Quorum Software and LogRhythm.
Meanwhile, replacing Bellini in the hot-seat will be Magee, who has been with ConnectWise since 2011, and was named COO in 2016.
During his tenure as COO, ConnectWise - which acquired peer group HTG in January 2018 - grew at a 21 per cent cumulative annual growth rate with more than 81 per cent growth in EBITDA.
“Our success has been founded on deep interactions with our partners through our IT Nation events and peer groups,” Magee said. “We will continue to invest in our partner community and provide the solutions they need to deliver technology as a service to the world.
“I believe the Thoma Bravo partnership will accelerate our ability to continually develop the platform our partners need to succeed through acquisitions and innovation.”
Bellini said Magee was the “obvious choice” as his successor.
“Jason has more than 20 years of deep industry experience with MSPs and value-added resellers,” Bellini added. “Because Jason’s been in their shoes, he is committed to ConnectWise’s partners. He will continue driving the passion, culture and innovation that our partners and colleagues expect from us.”
In looking ahead, the partnership with Thoma Bravo is designed to “advance ConnectWise’s long-term vision and roadmap”.
Specifically, partners can expect "innovative" cyber security solutions, advanced education, go-to-market tools for the "as-a-service world" and a connected ecosystem to drive "greater productivity and simplicity".
“Thoma Bravo has long recognised ConnectWise’s position as a leader and pioneer in the MSP and broader IT services space,” said Robert Sayle, partner at Thoma Bravo. “For nearly 40 years, the company has been the market leader in providing the most comprehensive integrated software solutions to its community of partners.
“Under the strong leadership of Arnie and the management team, ConnectWise has innovated and created top tier products and services, and we are thrilled to partner with Jason to enable further success and opportunity for ConnectWise partners.”
The acquisition comes ahead of an inaugural IT Nation Connect event in Australia, driven by increased partner momentum locally.
Set for the Gold Coast on 25-27 March, the flagship conference will span the entire Asia Pacific region, providing three days of technology product training, business sessions and networking.