Thoma Bravo’s frenetic dealmaking pace continued this week with its $12.3 billion acquisition of cybersecurity and compliance provider Proofpoint. The transaction represents the largest cybersecurity take-private deal to date and the latest testament to the firm’s focus on targets that address challenges posed by decentralized workforces and “gaps in enterprises’ security posture.” 

Thoma Bravo appears to be executing on the premise of its October note, quoted above: high profile hacks and Covid’s creation of decentralized workforces will push corporations to integrate systems that coalesce around a few key themes. Companies offering these systems will be increasingly in demand. 

The hot services? Identity verification, automating security to free up IT team time, delivering security as code for increased flexibility and scalability, ongoing certification in addition to compliance, and security baked-in at the developer level. 

Proofpoint’s position as the first security-as-a-service company to reach $1 billion in revenue makes it an obvious addition for Thoma Bravo. But a look at recent analyst notes highlights the viability of other industry players to check similar boxes for future acquirers. 

Ping Identity’s position in identity-based security could make the firm attractive to companies interested in adopting Zero Trust security, a factor aligned with Thoma Bravo’s first signature cybersecurity theme. The company’s identity service is largely “underappreciated,” according to Credit Suisse analysts, with share performance that has lagged peers like Zscaler and CrowdStrike

At a $2 billion market cap, Ping would be digestible for other tech-focused funds even with a premium comparable to the 34 percent tabled for Proofpoint. That lower price point could prove attractive for a private equity buyer base yet uncommitted to deploying eye-watering sums in large deals. 

A purchase of Ping would also fit squarely amongst recent Thoma Bravo transactions, which have spanned the deal value gamut in an active Q1 for its funds. In that period, Thoma Bravo announced plans to take Bay Area data integrity firm Talend private for $2.4 billion. The sponsor also took a controlling stake in business-to-business AI software testing company Appiltools for a reported $250 million. Customer service cloud software player Calabrio was added to Thoma Bravo’s portfolio in an undisclosed acquisition from KKR. And cloud platform provider Calypso Technology, which faces a digitizing financial services industry, joined the portfolio the same month.