America’s wealthiest Black man Robert F. Smith acquires a major stake in London-based tech firm

BY Ben Ebuka Oji November 9, 2023 8:37 PM EDT
Robert F. Smith
Robert F. Smith . Credit: Yale School of Management
Robert F. Smith
Robert F. Smith . Credit: Yale School of Management

Vista Equity Partners, led by Robert F. Smith, America’s wealthiest Black man, has achieved another significant milestone in its strategic growth. The prominent American technology firm has successfully acquired a majority stake in Gatekeeper, a London-based vendor and contract lifecycle management platform.

The investment was facilitated through the Endeavor Fund, owned by Vista Equity Partners. The Endeavor Fund specializes in providing growth investments and strategic support to high-growth software companies that generate recurring revenue ranging from $10 million to $40 million.

Notably, this new investment is significant for Gatekeeper as it is the company’s first external capital infusion since its establishment in 2012. Sources close to the deal revealed that the transaction values Gatekeeper at over $100 million.

Gatekeeper, a procurement consultancy that has evolved into a leading provider of unified vendor management and third-party risk management solutions, has received this remarkable investment to accelerate innovation and expand its global market reach. With increasing demand for its software, Gatekeeper has built a reputation for helping large businesses centralize contract data, manage vendor and third-party relationships, and ensure compliance.

Gatekeeper, operating as a remote and distributed SaaS provider, has over 92 employees and boasts a roster of over 300 global customers, including Autotrader, Pizza Hut, The Telegraph, and Crocs.

Gatekeeper initiated a sales process approximately four months ago and engaged Shane Seelig, a director at PEAK Technology Partners, to identify a potential buyer. During the early stages of the process, Abhay Puskoor, a senior vice president at Vista Equity, visited Gatekeeper and spent an afternoon with the CEO and founder Patrick O’Connor and his team in the Jersey Channel Islands. O’Connor was highly impressed with Puskoor’s knowledge of the sector and his understanding of the opportunities available for Gatekeeper. Ultimately, Gatekeeper selected Vista as its partner of choice due to its capacity and vision to support Gatekeeper’s expansion in the vendor and contract lifecycle management (VCLM) space.

“We really needed a partner that could put in both the capital, and the crucially [needed] expertise to take us from where we are now, and scale us into the dominant player within this new category that we’ve created,” said O’Connor.

 “Our vision is rooted in the convergence of vendor, contract, and third-party risk management. With Vista, we have a partner that shares our vision and provides the resources and expertise to define the future of VLCM,” he added.

Commenting on the investment, Rene Yang, co-head of Endeavor Fund and Senior Managing Director, said, “Gatekeeper is a unique founder-led business that’s established a leadership position in a large and growing addressable market.”

“This is a testament to the company’s vision and ability to execute. We look forward to partnering with Patrick and the entire Gatekeeper team as they accelerate investments to support increased customer demand and gain further market traction,” he added.

Other Investment

This latest investment is among the several strategic deals Vista Equity Partners has inked this year. In February, Vista Equity Partners successfully acquired KnowBe4, which is the world’s largest integrated platform for security awareness training and simulated phishing attacks. This acquisition added to Vista Equity Partners’ portfolio, which already boasts over 65,000 customers.

During the same month, Vista Equity Partners also purchased an additional stake in Tyler Technologies Inc., a technology company based in Texas. This acquisition was made in cash, with each share valued at $24.90, resulting in a total value of $16.6 million. Tyler Technologies Inc. specializes in providing software solutions in the United States and Canada.

Two months later, Duck Creek Technologies, the leading provider of intelligent solutions for property and casualty (P&C) and general insurance, was acquired by Vista Equity Partners at $19.00 per share. The transaction, valued at approximately $2.6 billion, was completed in an all-cash deal.

Vista Equity Partners is currently processing the acquisition of General Atlantic’s publicly traded portfolio company EngageSmart, a business-to-business software company. The all-cash deal is valued at approximately $4 billion. As part of the transaction, EngageSmart shareholders will receive $23.00 per share, representing a 30% premium. Additionally, General Atlantic has agreed to retain a portion of its controlling stake in the post-closing company.

Upon the conclusion of the transaction, Vista affiliates will possess approximately 65% of EngageSmart’s outstanding equity, while General Atlantic affiliates will hold approximately 35%. Nevertheless, the conclusion of the transaction is contingent upon various factors, including a 30-day “go-shop” period, regulatory approvals, and customary closing conditions. It is projected to be finalized within the first quarter of 2024.