After Calabrio, a software company that focuses on the call center space, spun out of its parent business, Tom Goodmanson, the company's former CEO, says it had venture capital money as its initial funding to get going. The company was profitable most of those years. But as the company got into 2016, it had gotten big enough where there were some inorganic things it wanted to do — buy some things, invest in in some infrastructure — but it didn't have the capital to do it in a big way.
"So, we endeavored, the venture capitalist and I, to go out and find a partner that wanted to jump onto this next stage," he says. "We went through a bunch of PEs and KKR was, at that point, the logical partner for us to do that."
That's a transition, he says, that requires a CEO to be ready.
"As long as you know what it is, and you do your research and you find that right partner, it can be fairly smooth because you've already decided," he says.
It was agreed long before the company sought out a transaction that he and the team were the right people to take it forward. What was left, then, was determining how they would approach the market and the things they wanted to do, and those, he says, happen to match. And, because of the venture capital backing, the team understood what an acquirer would want a professionalized business.
"Most (of what) people get freaked out about in private equity it's that they aren't used to the cadence — the monthly and quarterly real heavy reporting. We, fortunately, had been doing that for the first eight years," he says. "And so, I feel like it wasn't as big of a heavy lift for us as it is for some people. But I recognized that it can be pretty intimidating sometimes."
Since then, the company has grown significantly and, in 2021, was acquired by Thoma Bravo. Goodmanson, spoke on the Smart Business Dealmakers Podcast about the two transitions, what each was like, how he prepared and what the future holds for the business.