Tenzing backs the management team of cyber security leader, Smoothwall
London, 5 October 2017 – UK lower mid-market investor, Tenzing, today announces its investment in Smoothwall Ltd, the market leading provider of dynamic web filtering technology for the education and public sectors.
Founded in 2001, Smoothwall is a specialist web filtering provider with both on-premise and cloud-based offerings. Smoothwall pioneered real-time, content aware analysis that filters incoming web traffic to protect school children and other audiences from inappropriate, illegal, or harmful websites (including adult content, self-harm, radicalisation and cyber-bullying). Smoothwall also works closely with local government, healthcare and private sector organisations to protect their networks against cyber security threats. Smoothwall’s best of breed technology consistently blocks inappropriate websites that the technology of competitors often does not catch.
With an established UK presence and a growing footprint in the US market, Smoothwall has demonstrated consistent sales and EBITDA growth. Estimated at $1.7bn, the global web-filtering market is growing at c.14% per year, driven by increasing cyber security demands and the use of mobile devices in organisations.
Tenzing has backed the incumbent senior management team, Michael Marks, Nicola Sharp, Gavin Logan and Terry Heath. Post completion Michael Marks, formerly Group COO will become Group CEO. Michael will be supported by Lisa Stone as Chairperson. Lisa was introduced to the Smoothwall team by Tenzing, she is a former founding Partner at HgCapital, where her principal focus was in software and technology driven services businesses. Tenzing has also introduced Richard Hurd-Wood, who joins the team post completion as a Non-Executive Director, to support product advancement. Richard is currently Chief Product Officer of Reward Gateway. The Tenzing team and its Entrepreneurs Panel will support the company with product development and further internationalisation of the business.
The buyout of Smoothwall underlines Tenzing’s commitment to supporting buyouts of high growth independent market leaders and backing high energy, driven management teams and founders to accelerate their growth in the UK lower mid market.
Christian Hamilton, co-founder and joint managing partner, Tenzing, commented: “Everyone at Tenzing is delighted to be able to team up with Lisa, Michael and their colleagues at Smoothwall, to invest in and accelerate the growth of this market leading technology that has significant benefits to future generations and our wider society. We look forward to helping them materially invest in their sales team, develop new products and grow their business internationally, whilst enjoying the journey with the whole team at Smoothwall.”
Lisa Stone, Chairperson at Smoothwall, commented: “The team at Smoothwall has developed a highly effective product set for which there is a significant international market opportunity. I’m excited to be joining the team and look forward to sharing my experience to guide them through their next stage of growth.”
Michael Marks, Group CEO of Smoothwall, said: “As I take the position of Group CEO, I am delighted to have the opportunity to lead Smoothwall into a new chapter, where we are able to respond more rapidly to market demands and become a truly agile and innovative organisation. The backing of Tenzing allows us to give greater focus to our ongoing strategy, one that supports the needs of our customers and enhances the proposition we have to offer.”
Rob Jones led the investment in Smoothwall on behalf of Tenzing, supported by Milan Kellner. Rob and Christian Hamilton will be joining the board post completion. Tenzing was advised on the investment by DWF, Fairgrove Partners and BDO. Management and Newco were advised by Argyll Partners and Squire Patton Boggs, and the Smoothwall shareholders were advised by Walker Morris.