European mid-market tech investor, Tenzing, announced today that it has entered into a definitive agreement to sell its investment in Smoothwall to Family Zone, an Australian headquartered cyber safety software provider, generating a return of 5.6x invested capital and a 56% IRR.
Tenzing invested in Smoothwall, a dedicated safeguarding technology provider in UK education, in 2017 and has supported its growth both organically and through acquisitions.
With Tenzing as its investment partner, Smoothwall delivered an extensive programme of product development. The company initially leveraged Tenzing’s Entrepreneurs Panel with the appointment of Richard Hurd-Wood, who joined the business as a Technology Advisor in 2017 when Lisa Stone joined as Chair. In May 2018, the company appointed Georg Ell as CEO, who had previously served as Director of Western Europe at Tesla. Since then, Smoothwall has revamped all business operations, expanded its core product suite into the Cloud, and built out award-winning new categories, including a managed monitoring product and record-keeping for safeguarding.
Smoothwall has also made multiple acquisitions with the support of one of Tenzing’s dedicated Acquisitions Directors and, for the past 12 months, the company has benefited from the assistance of a Sherpa*, who worked alongside the CEO on special projects to help accelerate growth.
Recognition for the business recently came when Smoothwall was awarded Three Stars in the Sunday Times’ “Best Companies to Work For” and has been a Top 100 Employer for the last two years running.
Guy Gillon, Co-Founder and Managing Partner of Tenzing, commented: “We’re super proud to have completed our second exit and honoured to have played a part in Smoothwall’s growth. Working with Georg and the management team has been a true partnership, and we’re delighted to have achieved our shared vision of Smoothwall’s potential. We part ways with the company positioned to win in a large and growing market and look forward to the significant benefits Smoothwall will make to future generations and our wider society – it’s a true, mission-led organisation.”
Georg Ell, CEO of Smoothwall, said: “We’ve hugely benefited from the injection of investment, energy and expertise from Tenzing over the last four years; there has always been a real sense of backing us as a team. Their support has enabled us to expand the solutions we offer to our clients, and it makes me incredibly proud that, under Tenzing’s ownership, Smoothwall has grown to protect more than six million children. The management team and I are looking forward to continuing on the journey with the support of Family Zone.”
Tim Levy, Managing Director of Family Zone, commented: “We’re delighted to be partnering with Smoothwall. Our organisations share core values around keeping children safe, and our complementary platforms and culture create a unique and remarkable opportunity for synergies and growth on a global stage”.
Smoothwall is the second company to exit from the Tenzing portfolio in the past two years. It follows the firm’s maiden exit of FMP Global in August 2019, which generated a 5.4x and 72% IRR return. The sale of Smoothwall demonstrates Tenzing’s ability to support buyouts of high-growth, niche market leaders and work effectively with high-performance founders and management teams in order to grow businesses and disrupt the market in which they operate.
The transaction is expected to be completed in August 2021. Tenzing was advised on the exit by Raymond James and Osborne Clarke.
*Sherpas are highly commercial all-rounders deployed within Tenzing’s portfolio during the first 18 months of ownership to support management through the professionalisation phase.