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Thoma Bravo to buy ConnectWise MSP software business

MSP software provider ConnectWise has revealed plans to be acquired by Thoma Bravo, a private equity investment firm.

According to ConnectWise, the transaction is expected to close on Feb. 28. Following the transaction, ConnectWise COO Jason Magee will become the company’s CEO. Arnie Bellini, ConnectWise’s founder and CEO, will step into an advisory role.

“After five years of thoughtful consideration, evaluation and interviewing [private equity firms], we selected Thoma Bravo, because they are very excited about” ConnectWise’s strategies, partner community and vision, Bellini said in an interview.

Thoma Bravo’s portfolio contains notable MSP software companies, including remote monitoring and management (RMM) vendors Continuum and SolarWinds. Thoma Bravo also owns security and data protection vendor Barracuda Networks, which early this month revealed plans to acquire Avast’s RMM software, Managed Workplace.

Other Thoma Bravo-acquired companies include security vendors McAfee, Centrify, DigiCert and Imperva; networking vendor Riverbed; and visual analytics company Qlik.

Bellini said one of the reasons ConnectWise selected Thoma Bravo was its expertise in the software-as-a-service industry.

“If you look at [Thoma Bravo’s] portfolio, current and past, they have an amazing track record — I would say the best track record — of creating success with software-as-a-service companies,” Bellini said.

What’s ahead for ConnectWise users

ConnectWise won’t veer from its commitment to its MSP software user base, Bellini said. Thoma Bravo and ConnectWise have co-developed a five-year strategic plan that will adhere to ConnectWise’s established vision and roadmap, he said.

Magee, who joined ConnectWise in 2011 and was appointed COO in 2016, said ConnectWise partners can expect to see the cybersecurity offerings outlined at the 2018 IT Nation Connect conference. Additionally, ConnectWise will focus on providing advanced education and go-to-market tools for as-a-service businesses, as well continue developing a “connected ecosystem” around its platform.

Bellini also noted acquisitions on the horizon. “We made four acquisitions last year, and we plan on making some nice acquisitions now that we also have the benefit of Thoma Bravo,” Bellini said.

ConnectWise’s 2018 acquisitions included HTG Peer Groups, managed security services provider Sienna Group, and cloud software development firm HashInclude Computech. In 2018, the company also invested in Perch Security, a threat intelligence vendor.

Restructuring ConnectWise

As part of the Thoma Bravo deal, ConnectWise will undergo an organizational restructuring, Bellini said. The company will eliminate 110 positions and add 70 new positions to align to the strategy co-created with Thoma Bravo.

“In year two, three, four and five of our strategy, we are going to be adding … new jobs and opportunities here at the company,” Bellini said.

Bellini noted that ConnectWise is taking an active role in helping employees affected by the organizational restructuring land on their feet. He said ConnectWise has hired outside consultants and is contacting recruiting firms to place laid-off employees in new career opportunities.

ConnectWise IT, the Tampa, Fla.-based IT services provider that had originally developed ConnectWise’s software, is not part of the Thoma Bravo acquisition, Bellini said. He said he will be rebranding ConnectWise IT and continue to  oversee the company.

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