HGGC writes $180 mln check to build marketing platform

  • Firm adds on U.S.-based StrongView
  • HGGC aims for rapid growth, takes aim at bigger rivals
  • Firm looks to repeat success of Hybris

HGGC is set to spend $180 million to buy U.S.-based email specialist StrongView and combine it with its European marketing automation platform, Selligent, according to a person familiar with the deal.

With an eye on rapid global expansion, HGGC CEO Rich Lawson said the middle-market buyout firm looks to repeat its success with Hybris by positioning the newly combined Selligent as an independent player against behemoths such as Oracle.

“We’re gonna grow this company,” Lawson said in a phone interview. “We’ll take on the big strategics.”

HGGC sold Hybris to SAP in 2013 for a reported $1 billion, after the firm increased its business in Europe and grew its number of employees from 200 to 800. In 2011, HGGC combined its Canadian software developer ICongo with Germany’s Hybris to create “the world’s largest independent e-commerce business,” the firm said at the time.

In the case of Brussels-based Selligent, HGGC will add the email marketing platform of Redwood City, California-based StrongView to expand in the United States and in Europe. The combined company will launch as a debt-free business with “substantial cash” on its balance sheet, Lawson said.

HGGC bought a “majority stake” in StrongView for an undisclosed amount on September 21. It isn’t clear if the investment provided an exit for StrongView’s venture backers, which include DAG Ventures, Evercore Partners, Globespan Capital Partners, Sequoia Capital and Steamboat Ventures. The company, founded in 2002 as StrongMail Systems Inc, raised $38.1 million in venture capital over six rounds from 14 investors from 2004 to 2009, according to CrunchBase.

Selligent is a marketing automation and data management solutions specialist that HGGC bought over the summer. Selligent CEO Andre Lejeune will be CEO of the combined company, while StrongView CEO Bill Wagner will become an operating partner at HGGC, which is based in Palo Alto, California.

The digital marketing business is expected to grow at a 12 percent compounded annual growth rate over the next four years, reaching $103 billion by 2019, according to Forrester market research cited by HGGC.