Private equity firm Court Square Capital Partners has recapitalized Thrive to further accelerate the MSP’s push into fast-growth areas such as ServiceNow, automation, artificial intelligence and cybersecurity, Thrive disclosed this morning.
Pull back the curtain a bit, and Court Square is now Thrive’s majority owner. However, it’s important to note that private equity firm M/C Partners and Thrive’s senior management team also remain investors in the MSP. Those investors see this recapitalization as a “re-financing” to load the Thrive coffers and reinvest in the MSP’s platform; sales & marketing activities; and additional acquisitions — including larger MSP targets, Thrive CEO Rob Stephenson tells ChannelE2E.
Thrive has been growing rapidly in recent years — both organically and through M&A. Still, the MSP’s formula for success took multiple years to fine-tune and optimize. Part of the challenge involved multiple ownership changes over the past two decades.
Here’s a timeline of Thrive’s business journey, according to ChannelE2E research:
2007: Thrive Networks was acquired by office supply retailer Staples and occasionally struggled under Staples’ ownership.
2014: Communication services provider MetTel acquired Thrive Networks.
2015: Rob Stephenson began consulting for Thrive Networks under MetTel’s direction.
Thrive Recapitalization: Executive and Investor Perspectives
Gillis Cashman, M/C Partners
Matt Dennett, principal, Court Square
Jeff Vogel, managing partner, Court Square
In a prepared statement about the recapitalization, Stephenson said:
“Thrive is proud to have built a company whose business model has been validated by a sophisticated technology services investor with a strong track record like Court Square. Our goal has always been to be viewed as a leader in the managed services space and this partnership will greatly benefit our existing customers, as well as provide an opportunity to expand our Cloud, Cybersecurity and ServiceNow-Powered Next Generation Managed Services Platform to new clientele.”
Added Jeff Vogel, managing partner at Court Square:
“Court Square is excited about the opportunity to partner with Thrive’s management team to continue to grow their managed services practice.”
Noted Matt Dennett, principal at Court Square:
“We’ve been actively pursuing an investment in this space for a long time and believe Thrive’s NextGen Platform provides a differentiated competitive edge in the marketplace.”
Concluded Gillis Cashman, managing partner at M/C Partners:
“M/C remains a strong advocate of Thrive, its management team, business model and continued trajectory of success. We’re thrilled for the opportunity to carry on as investors and partner with Court Square Capital Partners in this next phase of growth.”
MSPs and ServiceNow Expertise
Meanwhile, an M&A feeding frenzy has started in the ServiceNow partner ecosystem — an area where Thrive appears poised to focus more of its business efforts.
Demand for ServiceNow’s software booming. The evidence: ServiceNow revenue was $1.25 billion in Q4 of 2020, up 31 percent from Q4 of 2019, the ITSM software company announced on January 27, 2021.
According to ChannelE2E’s ongoing coverage, ServiceNow partner M&A deals that surfaced in January 2021 include:
It’s important to note: ServiceNow doesn’t specifically target midmarket and small business MSPs. But scores of MSPs are adopting the IT service management (ITSM) and workflow automation platform for their own use, and to introduce co-managed services with mid-market end customers that already run the ServiceNow platform.