Park Place Buys Curvature To Become Maintenance Goliath
January 18, 2021 Timothy Prickett Morgan
The big tend to get bigger, and this is certainly happening in the third-party maintenance (TPM) business for IT equipment. We didn’t catch this when it happened, but back in November, Park Place Technologies acquired rival Curvature for an undisclosed sum. Both companies have substantial businesses supporting IBM Power Systems customers, although they are by no means exclusively focused on providing alternative hardware support for these platforms alone.
We did a story about using third party maintenance providers back in April 2019, and followed it up in September 2019 as Power7 and Power7+ iron was coming to the end of life at Big Blue about third party options, with a focus on Curvature, a conglomerate of TPM companies put together over the past several years that is located in Charlotte, North Carolina.
In January 2017, Curvature doubled the size of its business when it was merged with sometime rival Systems Maintenance Services, based in Santa Barbara, California. At the time, that gave Curvature more than $500 million in revenues and over 2,000 employees in the field; Curvature said at the time that it had over 10,000 customers and partners worldwide, just to give you a sense of the scope. This acquisition was all funded by private equity firms, as is usually the case these days. In this case a company called Quad-C was selling to another one called Partners Group to accomplish the merger of Curvature and SMS, who retained the Curvature name.
Somewhere along the way, Mike Sheldon, the CEO at Curvature when this SMS deal went down, left the company and in February 2020, Curvature got an interim chief executive officer, Dan Stone, who used to run CompuCom, a technology services company based in Fort Mill, South Carolina (just south of Charlotte) that Office Depot acquired in October 2017 for $1 billion. Stone left CompuCom after the Office Depot deal was done in May 2018. And shortly after taking the helm of Curvature about a year ago, Park Place Technologies made Curvature an offer it would not refuse. Or more precisely, private equity firms GTCR and Charlesbank Capital Partners make Partners Group and offer they would not refuse, and now Park Place Technologies is doubling its size, making it a more than $1 billion company by definition.
In its announcement of the Curvature acquisition, Park Place Technologies said it was looking to acquire Curvature since 2016, even before it was mashed up with SMS. Park Place Technologies has about 2,000 employees of its own, and has done a total of 16 acquisitions in the past 13years. Not counting the Curvature assets, the company has over 1 million assets under support at over 21,000 customers, and counts 445 of the Fortune 500 companies as customers; it has over 1.1 million spare parts in over 2,400 locations around the world. By its own reckoning, Park Place Technologies is now the largest provider of third-party maintenance for datacenter technologies in the world.
So, if IBM’s hardware maintenance prices seem too high, who you gonna call?