And like with the rest of the software space, PE firms are making more and more cybersecurity deals every year, offering cash to a generation of software startups raised on VC backing that have reached maturity and are now seeking the next stage of financial support.
The latest example of this life cycle comes with a twist. Thoma Bravo announced on Monday plans to pay $950 million to acquire application security testing company Veracode from Broadcom, a San Jose-based semiconductor giant that took over Veracode as part of its purchase of rival CA Technologies in a separate $18.9 billion deal that was finalized Monday. CA Technologies had owned Veracode for barely a year and a half, having bought the business for $614 million in April 2017.
Before that pit stop as a public subsidiary, Veracode had raised well over $100 million in VC funding from the likes of .406 Ventures, Atlas Venture and In-Q-Tel, the investment arm of the Central Intelligence Agency. The company reached a peak private valuation of $538.6 million in 2014. That same year—eight years after its 2006 founding, with early investors surely beginning to get antsy—Veracode reportedly hired banks to pursue an IPO. But the offering never materialized, and those backers had to wait a few more years to realize returns.
Not so for CA Technologies, which flipped Veracode at a hefty markup in a manner of months. The buyer, Thoma Bravo, is one of the firms leading the charge into software in general and cybersecurity in particular. With almost two months to go in 2018, firms have already completed more cybersecurity deals in the US and Europe than in any other recent full year:
The above chart doesn't include the sector's biggest outlier, Dell Technologies and Silver Lake's $67 billion add-on of EMC in 2016. But even excluding that deal, the majority of private equity's most expensive cybersecurity deals have come in the past three years. Last year brought the $2.8 billion formation of Cyxtera Technologies and a reported $2 billion deal for Optiv Security, while 2018 has already seen another major deal in the space by Thoma Bravo: a $1.6 billion purchase of Barracuda Networks.