LANDesk To Be Acquired By Investment Firm Thoma Bravo


Following consolidation trends in the security space, endpoint security company LANDesk Software signed a definitive agreement Monday to be acquired investment firm Thoma Bravo.

The Thoma Bravo acquisition, which is expected to be finalized by the end of September, will tear LANDesk away from manufacturing and technology company Emerson for a yet undisclosed price.

Executives said Salt Lake City, Utah-based LANDesk entered the deal with the aim of accelerating the company's growth and focusing on its core offerings, which include endpoint security, lifecycle management and IT services management.

"Now we get to essentially become an independent company and focus on our core business," said Steve Daly, LANDesk executive vice president and general manager, who will become the company's CEO once the acquisition is finalized.

Daly said that the acquisition would also provide the company the freedom to invest more resources into innovation and research and development and provide the financial backing necessary to focus on growing its channel, adding that he doesn't anticipate that the deal would fundamentally change LanDesk's channel focus or product strategy.

"As we go forward, the appealing thing is that Thoma Bravo is going to carve us out of Emerson and let us go as a standalone company," Daly said. "We have no plans to change our focus. We believe we can grow faster in those areas. What they'll see is more innovation, not necessarily a change in strategy."

Among other things, the infusion of cash would be allocated to more resources for channel training programs and technical help and support, as well as partner recruitment efforts, Daly said.

Thus far, LanDesk has around 300 channel partners worldwide. LanDesk recruited about 70 new channel partners in 2009, but executives stopped short of speculating how many new partners might be added this year.

While financial terms of the deal remain undisclosed, executives maintain that the acquisition wasn't a financial bailout.

"We've grown every year since we spun out of Intel," Daly said. "Even through the downturn, we grew revenue."

Altogether, LANDesk revenue has grown 20 percent since breaking away from Intel in 2002, reaching $150 million at the end of 2009.

Prior to the Thoma Bravo purchase, LanDesk was acquired manufacturing and technology company Emerson, which among other things, had competencies in network power, process management, industrial automation and climate technologies. However, executives contended that Emerson was not a good fit for the endpoint security company.

"What we do is manage endpoints," Daly said. "Emerson, they're data center-focused. Inherently, there's a strategy mismatch between those two."

LANDesk is yet another security company to be swallowed up by investment firms. Thoma Bravo acquired the network security company SonicWall in June in a deal valued at $717 million, which is expected to close between September and December of this year.

Solution providers hailed the acquisition as a good move for LANDesk, but question its position -- and relevance -- in the IT marketplace in the marketplace.

"The acquisition is good for LANDesk and their customers. Thoma Bravo is a respectable equity company that has a stake in some decent companies such as SonicWall, NetIQ and Entrust. I think LANDesk customers can rest a little easier knowing that LANDesk is in the hands of a capable equity firm,” said Andrew Plato, president of Beaverton, Ore.-based Anitian Enterprise Security. “However, there are some a lingering question here. In eight years, LANDesk has been sold three times. It’s moved from Intel to Avocent/Emerson and now to Thoma Bravo. It seems like nobody wants to hold on to this company.

“While LANDesk’s products are technically sound, security is not their focus. Most customers use LANDesk as a systems management platform. Their security components are OEM’ed from Kaspersky and Lavasoft, which are solid engines, but LANDesk does not own them,” he added.

Meanwhile, solution providers partnering with competing vendors say that LANDesk has been dwarfed by some of the bigger players in the security space, but still might be relevant overall, especially with the their specialty in IT management products and suites which could give them a leg up against other security players.

"They have a series of suites on the IT management side of the house that appear to be less of an overlap with other security companies," said David Sockol, president of Emagined Security, a Santa Clara, Calif.-based solution provider.

"They do seem to offer a breadth of different services we might want," he said, adding, "They're still a player, even if they may not be one of the 'chosen few.'"