That's certainly been the case for PayScale, a Seattle-based company focused on improving transparency and equality in workplace compensation. On Thursday, the provider of compensation data and software for companies and employees announced that current backer Warburg Pincus plans to sell its majority stake in the company to Francisco Partners in a secondary buyout with an enterprise value of $325 million.
Warburg Pincus acquired PayScale five years ago with a majority investment worth up to $100 million. Before that, the company had raised more than $30 million in venture funding from the likes of Madrona Venture Group, Sapphire Ventures and Trinity Ventures, attaining a valuation of $43 million in 2011. The company has now had various VC and PE backers for nearly 15 years, and with Francisco Partners' new deal, that number could eventually be pushing 20.
For much of the past decade, such SBOs—where one PE firm buys a company from another—have grown more and more frequent despite meeting criticism from industry observers, according to PitchBook's 2018 Annual US PE Breakdown. But that trend reversed last year, when SBOs accounted for just 12.6% of all buyouts in the US, compared to 15.9% the year before.
Secondary buyouts certainly aren't disappearing entirely, though. Dozens of firms have completed 10 or more such deals in the US since the start of 2016, according to PitchBook data. Here's a rundown of the top nine, with deal counts in parentheses:
1. Audax Group (38)
2. The Carlyle Group (34)
3. Genstar Capital (28)
4. KKR (26)
5. Stone Point Capital (21)
T-6. Ares Capital (20)
T-6. Blackstone (20)
T-8. Ardian (19)
T-8. Triangle Capital (19)
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