GFI Software Files $100 Million IPO Plan

Managed services and security vendor GFI Software last week filed plans for $100 million initial public offering. If successful, GFI will have a major war chest to expand its reach among remote monitoring and management tools users. Could this also be a prelude to a major managed services merger?

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Add GFI Software S.A. to the list of tech companies seeking acceleration on Wall Street. The Luxembourg-based company filed an IPO application last week in which it hopes to raise more than $100 million to support its remote monitoring and management tools and security software business.

The IPO application by GFI is significant given the increasing competition among the major RMM vendors in North America, the world’s largest managed services market. GFI supports more than 244,000 customers around the world and has a large concentration of users in the U.S. However, it remains a relatively tertiary RMM player compared to the likes of N-able Technologies, Level Platforms Inc., Kaseya International Ltd. and LabTech Software, and Continuum Managed Services LLC.

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In terms of top-line revenue, GFI looks extremely healthy compared to other RMM vendors. It reported more than $120 million in revenue in 2011, of which only $12.5 million came from its Sunbelt Software security solution sales. However, the company reported a comprehensive loss of $41 million.

No word on the IPO price. The IPO is orchestrated by J.P. Morgan, Credit Suisse and Jefferies & Co. GFI is backed by venture capital firm Insight Venture Partners, which also backs other leading software firms Paralles, Acronis, Mimecast, BeyondTrust and DataCore Software.

GFI is looking to follow recent technology IPOs, including next-generation firewall vendor Palo Alto Networks, which blew away IPO expectations by going to market at $42 per share and shooting up to as high as $57 per share.

With $100 million cash infusion, GFI will have plenty of money to pay out investors and invest in further market expansion. GFI has been making more noise of its desires to expand channel presence in the U.S., where competition is already high among RMM vendors for new and displaced manager services providers. The GFI IPO could signal a changing dynamic in the competitive landscape dominated by Level Platforms Inc, N-able Technologies and LabTech Software.

The IPO will also rekindle rumors that GFI plans to buy Autotask, a leading provider of professional services automation software. Many channel observers have noted that a marriage between GFI and Autotask would create a counterbalance to the virtual merger of ConnectWise and LabTech. ConnectWise’s venture capital arm, ConnectWise Capital, invested in LabTech, and the two companies now operate out of the same offices in Tampa.

Neither GFI nor Autotask have commented on the potential for a deal.

While a GFI acquisition of Autotask is not beyond the realm of possibilities, there is a strong argument against it. Other RMM vendors have flocked to Autotask as a PSA safe haven, as the bond between ConnectWise and LabTech grows stronger. A GFI takeover would ruin the perceived open platform that Autotask is today.

For the record, ConnectWise maintains that it does not discriminate against any RMM platform, and LabTech remains open to integration with any PSA provider.

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