Growing Chicago tech PE firm ParkerGale bets on employee feedback programs
ParkerGale has acquired CultureIQ, whose software surveys employee engagement and culture, and backed CultureIQ’s acquisition of the workforce surveys and analytics division of Corporate Executive Board. Corporate Executive Board is owned by Gartner (NYSE: IT), the IT industry research and analysis firm.
ParkerGale has used CultureIQ’s software across its portfolio for several years to conduct employee engagement and culture surveys, so the Chicago PE firm has a “strong conviction about the products and the market,” says ParkerGale partner Devin Mathews.
“We think this is exactly what the market is looking for – a high-tech and high-touch approach to employee engagement,” Mathews says. “From our industry research, we know there is a huge market without a clear leader. Companies are updating the old ways of surveying employees for feedback and are now listening deeply to their employees using technology and fostering engagement through action plans built on decades of benchmarking and best practices. The combination of New York-based CultureIQ and WS&A creates the clear leader the industry has been seeking.”
The transaction to acquire CultureIQ-- and a carve-out from a large public company—Gartner—on the same day was complicated but interesting, Mathews says. ParkerGale will own a majority of the combined business, which will retain the CultureIQ name.
“This is an exciting combination of two great companies,” says CultureIQ CEO Greg Besner, who will be the CEO of the combined business. “One with strong, modern technology and one with decades of expertise and intellectual property. WS&A is the recognized industry leader working with some of the largest companies in the world and we are excited to join forces.”
Besner started CultureIQ in 2013 as a software-as-a-service business in the employee culture and engagement survey industry. CultureIQ helps companies use employee feedback data gathered through surveys and analytics to try to measure, understand and strengthen company cultures. It also has a strategy team that provides advice on how to improve and align corporate cultures.
Corporate Executive Board established its workforce surveys and analytics division through acquiring Valtera and Genesee Surveys. The division provides insights and analytics for corporate strategic planning and business outcomes based on a workforce survey and analytics platform. The business’s intellectual property includes benchmarks and what it describes as the “deepest best practices database in the industry.” The division is also staffed with a team of psychologists to design the workforce surveys to generate insights and actionable intelligence.
ParkerGale brought up the idea of merging the companies this year and financed the transaction with CultureIQ’s existing investors, according to the PE firm. The new company will operate under the CultureIQ brand, providing culture and engagement solutions for companies of all sizes. The focus of the newly merged company will be to invest in areas of growth and to preserve the best of both organizations.
ParkerGale invests in technology companies in North America with at least $2 million in annual profits, taking majority control positions. The firm also produces a podcast, called the PEFunCast, hosted by Mathews and Jim Milbery, another partner at ParkerGale.
ParkerGale has also been recently recognized as one of the “10 young and thriving firms worth watching” by Mergers & Acquisitions. And Kristina Heinze, a ParkerGale partner who co-founded the firm in 2014, was named one of Mergers & Acquisitions’ 2018 Most Influential Women in Mid-Market M&A. The firm raised $240 million for its first fund in 2016. Its recent deals include the acquisitions of Ipro Tech LLC, software provider that helps corporations and law firms organize and produce litigation data, and Profisee, provider of master data management software.