Nintex CEO: Thoma Bravo Will Help Guide Acquisition Strategy To Bulk Up Its Product Portfolio


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With Thoma Bravo now the majority owner of Nintex, the workflow automation software company is ready to start eyeing potential acquisitions, especially those that can add artificial intelligence capabilities to its platform.

The Thoma Bravo deal that closed last Friday was less about providing additional funding to Nintex, and more about bringing in an investment partner that could advise the business through a new phase of growth and product development, Nintex CEO Eric Johnson told CRN.

"If you look at companies they partner with, you'll see a ton of growth, both organic and from acquisitions," Johnson said.

[Related: New Partner Portal Ignites Massive Channel Growth For Nintex]

Thoma Bravo bought equity in Nintex from TA Associates, an earlier investor that remains a minority shareholder.

The Chicago-based firm has been aggressively investing in Software-as-a-Service companies in recent years, to whom it lends its institutional knowledge and experience. That will be extremely valuable to Nintex as it looks to implement an acquisition pipeline to build out its product portfolio, Johnson told CRN.

Advances in machine learning offer tremendous potential to impact workflow automation software, already a fast-growing and highly competitive sector. Nintex wants to be on the vanguard of introducing intelligence to its platform, Johnson said.

Some new capabilities "we will build ourselves and are building now, and some we will go acquire," he said.

Adding AI and other capabilities to the portfolio will ultimately be a boon to a growing base of channel partners.

"The more we can do to solve problems on the platform for end-customers, the more our partners can do and our customers can do," Johnson said.

Claire Prosser, who has led the Nintex partnership at global consulting firm Protiviti for the last three years, told CRN the software vendor is a "partners-led organization," and a leader in its field.

"They make it easy for us to work with them to bring their intelligent process automation technology to our clients," Prosser said.

Nintex generated more than $100 million in revenue last year and is profitable. Over the last four years, the company has shifted to a cloud-based delivery model, with subscription revenues and a more comprehensive workflow platform.

But there's still work to do, Johnson said.

Nintex has made only one acquisition in its history: Drawloop, a popular Salesforce app for document generation it bought in 2015 and has since integrated into its product line.

"Going forward, we think we have an opportunity to be more aggressive," Johnson said.

While Nintex, headquartered in Bellevue, Wash., was born in the Microsoft ecosystem, and Microsoft customers still account for most of its revenue, the company's alliance with Salesforce is expanding quickly.

Efforts to move into other ecosystems are also gaining traction, including Box for document management, ServiceMax for field service workers, and eSignature application vendors like DocuSign and Adobe.

Thoma Bravo is asserting itself as a major player in the IT sector with a string of high-profile acquisitions, most recently Barracuda Networks.

The private equity giant made a big splash in the security market with its $3.6 billion acquisition of Riverbed Technologies in December 2014. It later teamed with Silver Lake to buy IT infrastructure management vendor SolarWinds for $4.5 billion in October 2015, and last June it purchased IT security management vendor Continuum.

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