Almost 18 months after a $3.5bn (£3.13bn) initial public offering (IPO), KnowBe4, specialists in cybersecurity training, phishing simulation and awareness-raising, is set to go private after being bought by private equity firm Company Vista Equity Partners was acquired for USD 4.6 billion.
The transaction, tacitly announced on October 12, represents a 44% premium to KnowBe4’s closing price on September 16, 2022, the day before Vista received its original offer, and is expected to close in the first half of 2023, subject to approval become shareholders and regulators. Financing is provided through a combination of debt and equity financing.
KnowBe4 Founder, Chairman and CEO Stu Sjouwerman said, “Today’s announcement is a testament to the success of our strategy and the strength of our incredible team. This acquisition by Vista represents the next phase of our journey.
“KnowBe4 has a strong track record as evidenced by our market-leading platform and global customer base. Under Vista ownership, we will have access to additional resources and support that will help us achieve our goals and deliver value to our customers. We look forward to partnering with the Vista team to continue helping organizations worldwide strengthen their human firewall and make smarter security decisions every day.”
Michael Fosnaugh, Co-Head of Vista’s Flagship Fund and Senior Managing Director, said, “As the trusted partner to enterprise software companies around the world, we place a strong emphasis on investing in companies that make a difference and have a proven track record of success. We look forward to using our deep understanding of the business to help Stu and his talented and experienced team address the human element of cybersecurity.”
Stu Sjouwerman, KnowBe4
Vista CEO Rod Aliabadi added, “As a significant investor in KnowBe4, we couldn’t be more excited to take this next step in our journey together. We appreciate the work KnowBe4 is doing to strengthen the human layer of cybersecurity by training employees on how to detect social engineering and related cyber threats.”
KnowBe4 has approximately 52,000 customers worldwide who use its suite of products to “address the human element of security” by raising awareness of potential threats through innovative approaches to training exercises, many with the help of its Chief Hacking Officer, Cyber Security , developed by pioneer and ex-Black Hat hacker Kevin Mitnick, who once spent eight months in solitary confinement in a US prison after a judge was successfully convinced he had the ability to launch a nuclear missile by poking into a Payphone whistled.
One of his more well-known offerings is his “Netflix-style” cybersecurity drama series, The Inner Manproduced by UK subsidiary Twist & Shout Communications, in the form of a techno-thriller that chronicles the story of reformed cybercriminal Mark Shepherd and his ragtag team of security consultants as they thwart cyberattacks while providing actionable lessons on topics such as social engineering, password hygiene, security in… social media and more.
The show entered its fourth season in early 2022 with a storyline inspired by the 2021 Colonial Pipeline incident and now has a small but dedicated fan base.
For its part, Vista has poured big bucks into the tech sector this year, as has Citrix in February for $16.5 billion at Tibco, another recent acquisition. This process was completed at the end of September 2022.