Ping Identity Bought By Vista Equity Partners, Looks To Make Acquisitions

Ping Identity got scooped up Wednesday by private equity firm Vista Equity Partners, a move CEO Andre Durand told CRN would set the stage for big investments in the company's platform and partners.

Terms of the deal, which is expected to close in the third quarter, were not disclosed.

Durand said the private equity move will allow the Denver-based identity and access management company to invest in acquisitions and accelerate its product growth. He declined to say what areas specifically Ping Identity was looking to invest in its portfolio, saying only that the company is looking to build a "complete identity platform."

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"This is all about acceleration from here on forward," Durand said.

Vista already owns stakes in multiple other security vendors, including Forcepoint (formerly Raytheon|Websense) and Return Path. Founder, chairman and CEO Robert Smith said Vista was attracted to Ping because of its strong platform in the quickly growing security market of identity and access management.

"Identity is the new strategic imperative for winning in the digital economy. With the Internet of Everything upon us, it is more important than ever to protect and secure access to any application through identity,’ Smith said in a statement. ’Vista recognizes the power of Ping's platform and the strength of Ping's business model, and we’re looking forward to working with Andre to support Ping’s growth in the dynamic and strategic field of identity management.’

Ping Identity had previously been open about the fact that it was eyeing a 2016 or 2017 initial public offering, but Durand said a private equity move makes much more sense given the company's size and desire to return liquidity to investors and make acquisitions in the short term. He said Ping was also approached with multiple offers from key competitors, but he said a growth equity firm like Vista provides a quick return for investors and foundation for growth.

"I don’t know that I could envision a better outcome," Durand said, adding that other positives of the move include remaining a standalone company and keeping Ping's headquarters in Denver.

Despite the acquisition, Durand said it will be business as usual for the company's reseller partners, which he said won't feel any direct impact from the deal. Peter Bedi, CEO of IDMWorks, a Coral Gables, Fla.-based Ping Identity partner, said he thinks the acquisition will allow the vendor to pursue the inorganic growth it needs to take it to the next level. As a partner, that's exciting, he said.

"Ping has been ground and pound selling the hell out of their products and they really need to catapult themselves into a different stratosphere to compete against other vendors …This will give them the capabilities to do that," Bedi said.

In particular, Bedi said he would like to see Ping Identity invest in expanding into the user lifecycle management business, something he said would be a natural extension from where they are today.

Durand agreed that partners can expect benefits from increased investments in the company's products enabled by Vista ownership.

"Nothing really changes about our business when you think about it. We're just going to go faster and bigger, with more markets, more product, and pushing the needle on growth," Durand said.