Optiv Doubles Down On Federal Business With Acquisition Of ClearShark

It’s the first acquisition for cybersecurity powerhouse Optiv under CEO Kevin Lynch — and ‘I do expect that there will be more,’ he told CRN.


Optiv CEO Kevin Lynch

Optiv kicked off a major expansion in the federal government space Monday with the acquisition of solution provider ClearShark, which more than doubles the size of the company’s federal business and provides a foundation for strong growth in the market, CEO Kevin Lynch said.

It’s the first acquisition for Optiv since Lynch joined the cybersecurity powerhouse, No. 25 on CRN’s Solution Provider 500, as CEO in April 2020. And looking ahead, “I do expect that there will be more” acquisitions for Optiv following ClearShark, Lynch said in an interview with CRN.

[Related: Optiv Eyes Acquisitions In 2023 As Part Of New Growth Strategy]

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Terms of the acquisition of Hanover, Md.-based ClearShark were not disclosed. The deal, which adds about 125 employees to Optiv’s existing headcount of more than 2,500, closed Monday.

Lynch noted that Optiv sees the acquisition of ClearShark as “100 percent about growth” rather than being a move to achieve cost synergies.

“This is really about opportunity. And we don’t have to find a single dollar of cost synergies for it to make sense,” he said.

ClearShark was founded in 2001 and its president, Brian Strosser, will become the president for the entire federal business at Optiv, reporting to Lynch. With the acquisition, Denver-based Optiv will now derive roughly 20 percent of its revenue from federal government customers, more than double the previous percentage, Lynch said.

Crucially, the combination of the two companies “sets the foundation for us to really bring a public sector focus on an even larger scale,” he said. “We see ClearShark as the cornerstone of our public sector business going forward.”

In terms of vendor partnerships, a number of the top vendors for ClearShark are already major partners for Optiv, Lynch said. “There’s a fantastic affinity with the partner set today,” he said, though specific vendors were not disclosed. Vendors highlighted on ClearShark’s website include Arista, F5, NetApp, Nutanix, Palo Alto Networks and Splunk.

Within cybersecurity, solutions for helping federal customers to achieve a zero trust security posture, such as identity security, are a particular focus for ClearShark.

In addition to security, ClearShark also focuses on segments including data center and cloud infrastructure, big data and enterprise storage.

‘Ready To Scale’

Prior to arriving at Optiv, Lynch had specialized in M&A as a senior partner at Deloitte. Upon joining Optiv, however, “I think it was time for us to perform and earn the right to be acquisitive,” he said.

Now, just shy of three years later, “we have the full platform to serve [customers]. And that was what I defined as earning the right to be acquisitive,” Lynch told CRN. Optiv has been owned by private equity firm KKR since early 2017.

The Optiv platform now is “ready to scale” not just organically, but also through M&A, Lynch said.

“We’re in a very healthy financial position as a company. And we’re seeking to continue to grow so we can serve our clients better, and serve additional clients,” he said. “I think it’s fair to say, this is the first of an unknown number [of acquisitions] that will follow.”