Private equity firms are more active in the public sector than they were a couple of years ago, Brian Miller, the CFO of Tyler Technologies Inc. (NYSE: TYL), tells Mergers & Acquisitions.
The company’s $150 million deal for data service company Socrata probably will not be the company’s last. Tyler has completed over 40 acquisitions in the past decade, according to Miller.
The public sector software space is attractive to companies like Plano, Texas-based Tyler because government agencies typically hold on to old software systems longer than most companies and are slower to replace them.
Socrata, headquarted in Seattle, provides cloud-based data integration, visualization, analysis, and reporting services to state, local and federal government agencies to help them improve performance, increase accountability, gain better financial insights, and extend citizen engagement. “Anything in the public software space is of interest to us. Anything is fair game,” says Brian Miller. “We want to acquire companies that will increase our competitive position.”
In 2017, Veritas Capital paid $690 million for Harris Corp.’s (NYSE: HRS) government information technology division. The business offers communications, engineering, and IT services for intelligence, defense and federal civilians. In addition, the target supports NASA’s Space Communications Network and Deep Space Network programs. Veritas is a New York-based private equity firm investing primarily in companies that provide technology-enabled products and services to government and commercial clients. In that same year, H.I.G Capital bought NIC Inc., which provides data analytics, engineering and logistics, cybersecurity, and IT infrastructure optimization to U.S. defense, intelligence, health and civilian government agencies, for $283 million.
In May 2018, Tyler acquired cybersecurity company Sage Data Security. Portland, Maine-based Sage offers education and training, threat detection, technology testing, advisory services, and digital forensics. The company works with companies in the education and government sectors.
Tyler’s technology is aimed to automate and support mostly all processes in government, ranging from 911 dispatch to courts and jails, as well as permits and business licenses. The company serves more than 15,000 organizations.
In 2015, Tyler paid $670 million for Troy, Michigan-based New World Systems. a software maker for dispatch centers, paramedics, police officers, firefighters and other emergency personnel that help them reduce response times. New World’s other product is Logos, which is designed to assist government and public agencies with their financial matters.
“We don’t have any quotas on deals. We’re pretty disciplined,” Miller concludes.