HelpSystems Gets New Investors, CEO
October 16, 2019 Alex Woodie
Change is in the air in Eden Prairie, Minnesota, as HelpSystems recently announced that it has a pair of new investors, as well as a new CEO. The software company has also made strides in the security space with a pair of new offerings, including one that supports IBM i.
Let’s start with the man – or should we say, the woman – at the top. Kate Bolseth, who was most recently the COO, has taken over the top job at HelpSystems. Bolseth was the general manager of cross platform products at HelpSystems when IT Jungle interviewed her last November, and was listed as COO in a June press release announcing the partnership with Skytap.
According to her LinkedIn profile, Bolseth was promoted to the CEO position in July. Before joining HelpSystems four years ago, she was the CEO of ad tech firm Jingit, the COO of Amcom Software (which became Spok in 2014), and the EVP of engineering and development at Wireless Ronin Technologies. She holds a B.A. in computer science from the University of Saint Thomas.
Bolseth replaces former CEO Chris Heim, who remains at the software firm as its executive chairman. Heim joined HelpSystems as its CEO in December 2014, a position he kept for four-and-a-half years. His reign kicked off with an acquisition of Halcyon Software, and Heim would go on to oversee a string of deals, including acquisitions and bringing on new investors.
Since he took over for longtime CEO Janet Dryer, Heim grew the privately held company’s revenues by 130 percent, Heim claims in his LinkedIn profile. He also lists the recapitalization efforts of 2015 to H.I.G. Capital and 2018 to HGGC as major accomplishments.
When a Reuters story from last year quoted an anonymous source as saying the company’s valuation exceeded $1.2 billion during the deal with HGGC, Heim threw cold water on the “unicorn” reference. He did, however, take credit for helping to grow the company’s revenues by 70 percent at the time, with 7 percent of the organic variety (i.e. not from an acquisition) over three years.
HelpSystems spokesman Mike Devine released the following statement:
“After being a CEO for 22 years, Chris expressed a desire to take a step back from running a company with 25 worldwide offices and 785 employees, but loves the company and its vision so wanted to stay as executive chairman. The board has been very pleased with Chris and the performance of the company under his leadership and was very supportive of this decision. The company more than doubled under his leadership.”
HelpSystems also promoted longtime executive Jim Cassens to president. Most recently, Cassens has held the positions of executive vice president of M&A and international.
The change at the top coincides with new investors at HelpSystems. Last week the company announced two new investors, including TA Associates and Charlesbank Capital Partners, have signed definitive agreements to take stakes with the company and join HGGC as investors. HelpSystems says the transaction is expected to close next month.
Charlesbank is Boston, Massachusetts-based private equity firm with $5 billion under management. The company holds stakes in a variety of industries, including consumer, financial services, energy, healthcare, technology and industrial services. TA Associates, meanwhile, is based in Boston and Silicon Valley and has more than $23 billion under management. The company has hundreds of investments in firms across multiple industries. In the technology space, investments in Flexera, Idera, InstallShied, JDA Software, and Lawson stand out.
It’s unknown how the deal was structured, as financial terms were not disclosed. While we knew that HGGC was the majority owner of the company, HGGC was not the only owner. When HGGC was brought on board last year, existing owners – including H.I.G. Capital and Split Rock Partners – retained their stakes. That 2018 deal also brought on board another minority stakeholder, Pamplona Capital Management. Executives and employees also own shares in the company.
TA Associates Managing Director Harry Taylor, who will take a seat on HelpSystems’ board, noted in a press release that HelpSystems “has grown and transformed significantly over the past few years,” with expansions into cybersecurity and other areas. TA Associates Senior VP Michael Libert, who will also join the board, said in the press release that he was “impressed by the company’s strong reputation with its customers, as well as its vibrant corporate culture.”
Another new board member is Hiren Mankodi, a managing director at Charlesbank Capital Partners. “We are excited to be investing in this terrific company and its deep and talented management team,” Mankodi said in a press release. “HelpSystems is well-positioned for continued growth…”
The deal marks an important milestone for HelpSystems, new CEO Bolseth said in a press release. “We are honored to welcome both of these firms to the HelpSystems family, and look forward to benefiting from their complementary array of resources and skills,” she added.
In other news, HelpSystems finally delivered the security information and event management (SIEM) product that we told you about over a year ago. The new Windows-based product, dubbed PowerTech Event Manager, allows customers to monitor any device or software with a SYSLOG, CEF, or log file output capability. That includes just about any server, database, application, or network device, running either on-prem or in the cloud.
PowerTech Event Manager does support IBM i environments. However, IBM i audit logs must first be translated to a standard SYSLOG format via a third party tool, like PowerTech SIEM Agent, before streaming them to PowerTech Event Manager.
The company offers free and enterprise versions of PowerTech Event Manager. The free version has all the same features as the enterprise version, the company says, except there’s a limitation in how many servers or other endpoint assets that a customer can manage. Customers get 20 free points; supporting one IBM i partition consumes 15 points, while monitoring Windows and Linux systems cost just two points each.
Last but not least, the company is getting into the pen business – as in penetration testing. In August, the company announced that its Core Security subsidiary (which we told you about in May) released a new version of its penetration testing software. “Version 19.1 focuses on testing Web applications, as well as general ease of use and functionality enhancements for other focal attack areas like networks, endpoints, applications, and users,” the company says.
The Core Security offering does not support IBM i, however. The company does offer specialized penetration services via its Managed Security Services group, formerly known as Skyview Partners.