In its first major move into IT security, buyout firm Welsh, Carson, Anderson & Stowe has acquired a majority stake in SaaS security vendor Alert Logic. The deal substantially cleans up the capital table at 11-year-old Alert Logic, which has drawn backing from six firms since its series A in 2005, including at least two shops that are designated as early-stage investors. As is typical for these late-stage growth investments by private equity (NYSE:PE) firms, we would expect the next major capital event for Alert Logic to be an IPO.
Closer at hand, having a single, deep-pocketed owner should help Alert Logic take on its next opportunity for growth: international expansion. Currently only about 230, or 10%, of Alert Logic's total customers are outside its home US market. The Houston-based company doesn't have any direct sales outside the US.
International expansion for cloud-based companies like Alert Logic can be expensive because not only do they have to hire sales and marketing staff, they may also have to open in-country datacenters, depending on data residency laws. With $20bn in total capital, Welsh Carson can write those checks. (While Welsh Carson doesn't currently hold any information security vendors in its portfolio, we would note that the PE firm is well-versed in the service-provider market, where Alert Logic does the majority of its business. The PE shop has put money into both Savvis and Peak 10.)
Alert Logic's streamlined ownership also should help smooth the way for an IPO, although an offering may not come until 2015. The company finished 2012 with GAAP revenue of $30m and will likely bump that to nearly $45m in 2013. Assuming that growth rate roughly holds, Alert Logic could do $60-65m in sales in 2014. (Keep in mind, too, that Alert Logic is a subscription business, so revenue lags bookings.)
The two most-recent SaaS security providers to debut (Proofpoint and Qualys) both went public when their quarterly sales hit approximately $25m. (Proofpoint went public in April 2012, while Qualys followed suit last September. The two companies have market caps of $1bn and $600m, respectively.) However, we would note that although Alert Logic is smaller, it is growing twice as fast as Qualys and about half again as fast Proofpoint. Alert Logic has been clipping along at a 40-45% growth rate, compared with 20% at Qualys and 30% at Proofpoint.
For more real-time information on tech M&A, follow us on Twitter @451TechMnA.
Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours. I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it. I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.