Investment gives Vista Equity Partners majority stake in Maryland's Sonatype - Technical.ly Baltimore

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Nov. 19, 2019 7:00 am

Investment gives Vista Equity Partners majority stake in Maryland’s Sonatype

The Fulton-based company, which makes tools for software developers building with open source code, has grown to 350 employees.
Sontaype team members with CEO Wayne Jackson, as he was awarded EY Entrepreneur of the Year in 2018.

Sontaype team members with CEO Wayne Jackson, as he was awarded EY Entrepreneur of the Year in 2018.

(Courtesy photo)

Private equity and venture capital firm Vista Equity Partners is making a majority investment in Fulton-based Sonatype, the companies announced Monday.

Founded in 2008 and run by prominent CEO Wayne Jackson, Sonatype makes tools to help developers manage the open source code components that its leaders say are part of the supply chain of building software. Its Nexus products help ensure the code is secure by detecting vulnerabilities in the third-party software and keeping risky components out.

“While we’ve built a terrific business on our own over the past decade — we have a truly enormous opportunity in front of us and so much more to accomplish,” Jackson said. “Not only is Vista the perfect partner to help us continue to scale — but now is the perfect time.”

Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but a majority investment means that Vista is acquiring more than 50% of the company. Several existing investors in Sonatype will retain a stake in the company.

This investment comes a little over a year after Sonatype raised $80 million in a growth round led by TPG that was designed in part to help the company grow internationally. It is looking to continue scaling with the new deal.

Vista invests in enterprise software and data companies.

“We realized early into the investment deliberation process that Vista and its team shared our vision for Sonatype,” Jackson said. “They demonstrated how their commitment, experience and focus on the software sector could help us grow and evolve our business and result in our shared success. We believe that the Vista team and their investment philosophy, which champions operational improvements and innovation over capital alone, was the best fit for our business.”

Sonatype said it grew annual revenue close to 250% over the past three years, and counts 60 Fortune 100 companies among customers, including banks, credit card companies and tech companies. It also said four out of five branches of the U.S. Armed Forces use its products.

The company employs 350 people globally, and will be keeping the headquarters in Howard County.

“We moved the headquarters to Fulton almost eight years ago, and have no plans on changing that,” Jackson said.

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Sonatype drew IPO chatter after last year’s investment. Jackson has experience with exits, having led Riverbed Technologies through its $1 billion sale to Aether Systems in 2000, and was CEO of Columbia-based Sourcefire when it went public in 2007.

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