Hg Acquires Majority Stake in Prophix
Craig Schiff , President and CEO, BPM Partners
The trend of significant investments in the performance management space continues into 2021. It was announced last week that Hg, a global investment firm with a focus on software and service businesses, has taken a majority ownership stake in Prophix, a successful midmarket focused performance management vendor. The first question people usually ask when they hear about these acquisitions is: how much did they pay? It has not been publicly disclosed and I’m not one to spread rumors, so you’ll have to do your own research to find the answer to that question. From what we‘ve heard though, the investment does indicate a fairly significant valuation of the company. The second round of questions that people often ask includes: how will this impact the vendor and their customers, prospects, and competitors? Those questions are much easier for us to answer.
Prophix has been around for over 30 years and has over 1,600 customers. More importantly, they have a solid product with a broad range of capabilities that supports both financial and operational planning and reporting. We have met with the team many times over the years and they are very focused and know exactly where they are going. They are also highly thought of by their customers. In fact, our own BPM Pulse Survey confirms the high levels of satisfaction they have achieved (see their current BPM Pulse rating here). The main knock we have heard about them is that they are overly cautious and risk-averse. That’s interesting because that can also describe their target customer in Finance. This may explain why several of their prospects have told us they felt a greater cultural kinship with Prophix than with the other vendors they were considering. This slow and steady approach does sometimes have a cost though. They were late to the party with a cloud-based solution and may have missed out on some opportunities, but in the end they did ultimately deliver a well-received solution.
The Competitive Landscape
The midmarket performance management space is the place to be. In the past year we personally were involved in many deals in the space, even in the middle of a pandemic. In fact, the economic environment may have caused some companies to toss their spreadsheets or legacy systems sooner than planned. From a midmarket vendor perspective, the landscape has evolved over the years. Up until fairly recently Adaptive Planning (Adaptive Insights) dominated this market segment. Since their acquisition by Workday that has changed. While they are still included in many midmarket deals, our experience is that they don’t end up as a finalist as often as they used to. Some of this is due to the fact that they are often the most expensive midmarket vendor in the deal. In addition, they appear to be self-selecting for deals that will also include other Workday solutions. This of course makes perfect sense, but results in them focusing on a subset of opportunities. Other vendors have swooped in to fill the gap and there is now a good array of top-rated solutions to choose from. This space is also about to get even more competitive. Some new venture-backed vendors (see Jirav and PlaceCPM as just two examples) have entered this market in the past year or two and are focused on the lower end of the midmarket. They don’t intend to stay there forever, and as they flesh out their product sets they plan to move up into the core midmarket performance management space.
Impacts of the Deal
We met with Hg several times last year and provided our research to them as part of their due diligence process. We believe they have a good understanding of the space, the opportunities as well as the challenges, and are in it for the long haul. Based on the structure of the deal as we understand it, Prophix employees had an opportunity to participate as well. So, from a Prophix perspective it looks like they found a knowledgeable investor that will help them grow the product set, the team, and their global footprint. With their product and team they were already in a good position to do battle, but sometimes you just need more resources. This is especially true when you consider that competitors Planful (formerly Host Analytics) and Vena Solutions had recent infusions of capital as well, and just this week Jedox also joined in.
From a customer and prospect perspective there seems to be little risk, only potential upside. With more funds Prophix can accelerate the rollout of new product features, expand customer support offerings, open offices in more locations, add more voices to the user community, and perhaps even acquire a complementary product.
For competitors there may be a valid concern that this will make Prophix an even stronger foe, but on the other hand this new investment is further confirmation that there is significant growth still to come in this market segment. From what we have seen in just the past year we are confident there will be continued growth and more than enough opportunities for all the key midmarket players to prosper.