Compuware's Channel VP Says $2.5 Billion Thoma Bravo Sale A Big Boon To Partners

Software developer Compuware announced a $2.5 billion sale to private equity firm Thoma Bravo on Tuesday, bringing an end to years of outside pressure by minority shareholder and hedge fund Elliott Management. The sale, once approved, is being hailed by Compuware channel executives as a "huge win" for channel partners, who will no longer have a cloud of uncertainty over them.

"Whenever there is an acquisition, there are always partner and customer questions. With the deal done, partners should see this as a big win," said Todd Kaloudis, Compuware's vice president of worldwide partners.

"Thoma Bravo is a growth investor," Kaloudis said. "They have invested in other channel-friendly firms like Blue Coat and Sirius Computer Solutions. They get the channel, they know the channel. Compuware, as a private company, will now have the flexibility to invest in its fastest-growing part of the business -- the channel."

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The Detroit-based company said it has 500 worldwide channel partners, including resellers, managed service providers, systems integrators, consultants, distributors and OEMs, with about 200 partners located in North America.

Compuware, which reported revenue of $944 million for its 2014 fiscal year, sells software that monitors and helps optimize the performance of mission-critical business systems. The application performance management (APM) side of its business drives over half the company's revenue.

"The channel is now the fastest part of our APM business. We have seen near 100 percent growth year-over-year in our channel sales. And a majority of our new sales are channel- influenced," Kaloudis said.

Kaloudis, who has been leading Compuware's channel charge for just over a year, said since he has taken the helm, Compuware has grown its channel by about 150 partners. "Our focus isn't on growing our partner head count, necessarily," he said. "Growth is partners increasing their customers' spend and adding value to their solutions with APM. We tell them, 'Keep doing what you are doing, but ask your customer what their strategy is for performance.'"

As a private company, Compuware, which counts Forsythe, Accenture and Wipro as channel partners, will be able to "leverage strategic product and other growth opportunities that will take Compuware to the next level," Orlando Bravo, a managing partner at Thoma Bravo, said in the statement.

The transaction, which is expected to close by early 2015, is subject to regulatory approvals and those from Compuware's shareholders.

One large Compuware system integrator partner said the Thoma Bravo deal will allow the company to look beyond Wall Street's quarterly reporting calendar to longer-term goals, such as expanding its solution sets and differentiating itself from competitors.

"New application-performance-monitoring opportunities arrive every day, thanks to the growth of mobile devices and the web. We have had years of success with Compuware. A private Compuware will help it not only keep pace with the market, but lead it. We are happy to go along for the ride," said the partner, who asked not to be identified.

Kaloudis said Compuware is committed to investing more in its partner program. "The APM market is fragmented. We are the only APM vendor with more than 10 percent share. We can't reach our potential without joining forces with the channel. No APM vendor has more than 20 percent share, and we aim to change that."

Over the past year, Kaloudis said, Compuware's channel has benefited from increased investment in regional partner sales specialists and better governance of partner opportunities to minimize conflicts between partners and direct sales.

"Our future plans include better aligning our marketing and service experts with their counterparts in our partner community," Kaloudis said.