Thoma Bravo To Acquire Security AI Pioneer Darktrace For $5.3B

The AI-focused cybersecurity vendor is slated to join a private equity portfolio that includes numerous security industry companies. Darktrace CEO Poppy Gustafsson says the deal will enable ‘the next stage in our growth journey.’

Thoma Bravo has reached an agreement to acquire AI-powered security trailblazer Darktrace for $5.32 billion, as the private equity firm looks to add another major cybersecurity vendor to its portfolio.

In a comment included as part of a regulatory filing, Darktrace CEO Poppy Gustafsson said the proposed acquisition—which would constitute taking the company private—will provide support for “the next stage in our growth journey.”

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Darktrace noted in the filing that its board believes that the company’s “operating and financial achievements have not been reflected commensurately in its valuation with shares trading at a significant discount to its global peer group.”

Founded in 2013, Darktrace was early to the idea that AI/ML could be used for improving detection of cyberattacks. The Cambridge, U.K.-based company went public on the London Stock Exchange in 2021, but by the following year was in talks with Thoma Bravo over an acquisition deal. The negotiations reportedly fell apart over price disagreements.

The deal that has now been reached offers Darktrace shareholders a 20 percent premium over the closing price Thursday for shares in the vendor. The deal is subject to approval by shareholders.

Thoma Bravo has been a prolific acquirer of cybersecurity vendors in recent years, with a portfolio that currently includes Proofpoint, Sophos and SailPoint, along with significant stakes in a number of other security vendors.

The private equity firm also owns Ping Identity, which the firm combined with another identity security vendor, ForgeRock, in August.

In a statement included in the regulatory filing, Thoma Bravo Partner Andrew Almeida said that Darktrace is “at the very cutting edge of cybersecurity technology.”

“We have long been admirers of its platform and capability in artificial intelligence,” Almeida said in the comment, adding that “we will bring to bear the full range of our platform, operational expertise and deep experience of cybersecurity in supporting Darktrace’s growth."

Along with detection, Darktrace has expanded its self-learning AI technology to include attack prevention, response and remediation—spanning cloud, applications, email, endpoint and network environments. Last summer, the company unveiled a new product, Heal, that leverages AI to assist with cyber incident response.