Asset-finance software company, IDS Group, will soon be welcomed into the wings of software-focused private equity firm Thoma Bravo and it has big plans for the future. The company creates niche software that helps businesses like John Deere, TCF Bank, and Hitachi rent and finance equipment – a one trillion-dollar market, says COO Katie Emmel.
The company first started as Decision Systems in 1974 and due to the challenges with writing software that could accommodate the complex accounting rules for lease financing, there was very little competition in a wide-open market. The Minneapolis-based business was subsequently able to sign up 50 of the 100 largest lessors in the United States.
In 2000, the business rebranded itself as International Decision Systems (IDS) after merging with British-based company CFS and going public. Two years later, IDS' leadership found being public a poor fit for their firm and made a move to buy their company back. In 2003, James Meinen, CEO of IDS, partnered with Schroder Ventures to make that possible.
The buyout became tricky after competing investment firms began submitting offers and the management team was forced into a bidding war. Ultimately, they were successful and reclaimed their company after the board accepted the $25 million offer. In a 2003 interview, Meinen stated “we focused on winning. We didn’t allow ourselves to think about losing.”
From there, the company moved forward with rolling out its next generation of software. IDS also acquired the rights to programming developed by Thoughtworks – a product that would provide a base for better online integration. IDS has expanded its products over the years, including Rapport, a workflow-based origination solution; InfoLease, a scalable portfolio management offering; InfoAnalysis, a pricing tool for structuring leases and loans; and VehicleData, a source for manufacturer-based data designed to inform fleet management decisions.
Since their early venture with investment firms, the company has been successful with trading up their private equity partners and their latest move from current owner SV Investment Partners to Thoma Bravo is no exception. IDS is hoping to tap into TB's network to expand – through scaling up their company, expanding into new global markets, and making new acquisitions.
“Thoma Bravo provides the resources and operational expertise needed to continue our cloud momentum, accelerate our product vision and support our ability to better serve a global customer base," said David Hamilton, CEO of IDS. "[They have] … a proven track record of investing in building software companies like IDS to achieve exceptional results. We are excited about the opportunity to partner with the team at Thoma Bravo to bring new levels of innovation to our customers.”
Thoma Bravo is a San Francisco-based private equity firm that specializes in software and IT-enabled services sectors. With over $35 billion in capital commitments, the firm partners with portfolio companies to help them develop best practices, identify strong growth opportunities and expand through strategic acquisitions. Some of their past investment successes include ABC Financial, Frontline Education, Hyland Software and Qlik.