Thoma Bravo is a successor to the firm of Golder Thoma & Co. established in 1980 by Stanley Golder and Carl Thoma. The firm originated the “consolidation” or “buy and build” investment strategy which sought to combine the best of venture investing with the best of leveraged buyouts by investing in a “platform” business in a fragmented industry and then working with management to transform it into a larger and more profitable business through internal growth and a series of strategic, industry consolidating acquisitions. Business Week magazine credited Golder Thoma with pioneering this strategy and Fortune magazine recognized the firm for combining the key elements of venture capital, leverage and “business building.”
In 1998, the original firm split into two firms, GTCR Golder Rauner, to raise larger funds and pursue larger investments, and Thoma Cressey Equity Partners (TCEP), to continue the firm’s traditional concentration on the “middle market.” TCEP subsequently became Thoma Bravo in recognition of the substantial contribution to its success being made by Orlando Bravo.
Over the last 30+ years, Thoma Bravo and its predecessor firms have applied and refined the original consolidation investment strategy across many industries, in all economic cycles and through a series of nine private equity funds representing billions of dollars in committed capital.
Thoma Bravo has become particularly known for our investment experience and success in both the software and services business sectors, including enterprise and infrastructure software and business and financial services of various kinds. The companies below are examples of the firm’s successful investments over the last 3+ decades:
Paging Network, Inc.
A global provider of wireless communications services formed by a Thoma Bravo partner and a telecommunications executive. The company grew to become the world’s largest wireless communications company with more than 10 million pagers in service, successfully went public and reached a total market value of more than $1 billion dollars. Although the paging business later was overtaken by cellular telephone service, the initial $8 million investment in PageNet returned more than $700 million in cash and stock.
American Income Holding, Inc.
A marketer and underwriter of individual supplemental life insurance and accident and health insurance for members of labor and credit unions. The company was acquired in one of the first going-private leveraged acquisitions of a public life insurance company. With an increase in sales of new insurance policies, improvements in home office productivity and greater control of overhead, earnings subsequently grew more than 200%. The company went public again and traded on the New York Stock Exchange until it was sold to Torchmark Corporation for more than $500 million.
Global Imaging Systems, Inc.
A provider of digital office imaging solutions, including the sale and service of copiers, fax machines and printers, electronic presentation systems and network integration and management services, formed by a Thoma Bravo partner and an industry executive. The company went on to complete more than 100 acquisitions and become a leader in its field with more than $600 million in revenue. After a successful public offering, the company was sold to Xerox Corporation in a $1.5 billion transaction.
An expert services firm providing independent expert testimony, original authoritative studies, and strategic advice and consulting to major corporations, law firms, governments and agencies around the world. Thoma Bravo partnered with the founder of LECG to re-acquire it from a company to which it had been sold and then supported its growth through the acquisition of additional expert staff for the expansion of the business worldwide. Thoma Bravo also assisted the company in completing a successful IPO in 2003 and in continuing its growth as an attractive public company. The firm sold its interest in LECG in the public market over the next few years.
A provider of enterprise software and services to the durable goods distribution market. Thoma Bravo led the going-private acquisition of Prophet21 and then worked closely with the company to add expertise to its Board, improve its operating margins, and pursue an aggressive acquisition program that resulted in seven add-on acquisitions. As a result, the company’s revenue doubled and earnings increased 4-fold in less than three years. Prophet21’s success made it attractive to a larger business, Activant Software Solutions, Inc., which acquired it in 2005.
A provider of financial transaction processing, electronic payments, image exchange, item processing, dispute resolution, and e-commerce solutions for financial institutions. Thoma Bravo partnered with management to acquire the business that was the Banking Systems Division of Sterling Commerce and then worked with management to create a Board that included industry experts with whom the firm had a strong relationship; implement a number of operating improvements; and complete an acquisition that enhanced the product and service offerings of the company. VECTORsgi subsequently was sold to Metavante Corporation, the financial technology subsidiary of Marshall & Ilsley Corporation (NYSE: MI).
For over 25 years, Datatel has focused exclusively on helping colleges and universities manage their business processes. Datatel provides fully integrated enterprise information management software solutions to more than 600 colleges, universities and other higher education institutions serving almost 4 million students. Thoma Bravo invested in the company in 2005 and worked closely with the company’s management to improve its operations and enhance its profitability before selling the business about 4.5 years later for a substantial gain.
American-Amicable Life, Inc.
American-Amicable and its affiliated companies market life insurance products, including final expense, single premium whole life, universal life, modified whole life, and term coverage, through a nationwide network of independent sales agents. The companies’ insurance products are designed to fit the particular needs of their individual customers. Thoma Bravo worked with the company’s management to increase the size and efficiency of the business over a ten-year period before a very successful sale in 2010 to an affiliate of Industrial Alliance Insurance and Financial Services Inc. (Toronto: IAG), the fourth largest Canadian life insurer. The purchaser retained all of American-Amicable’s management team and employees and has maintained all of its operations in Waco, TX, where the company has been based since its founding almost 100 years ago.