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Thoma Bravo Buying Spree Highlights Hot Investor Interest in IAM Market

M&A activity in the identity and access management (IAM) space has continued at a steady clip so far this year.

Two recent financial transactions worth billions — both involving private equity firm Thoma Bravo — have highlighted the continued and strong interest among investors and other technology vendors in the identity and access management (IAM) market.

Thoma Bravo last week completed its previously announced purchase of identity security services provider SailPoint Technologies in an all-cash transaction valued at around $6.9 billion. At completion of purchase, the company was delisted from the New York Stock Exchange and stockholders were entitled to receive $65.25 in cash per share of the company's common stock. SailPoint is now a privately held entity.

Earlier this month, Thoma Bravo also announced its intention to acquire federated ID management firm Ping Identity for $2.8 billion. That transaction is expected to close in the fourth quarter. At that time, Ping, too, will go from being a publicly listed company to a private entity under the Thoma Bravo umbrella. Ping's current stockholders will receive $28.50 in cash per share of common stock.

Substantial Premiums

Thoma Bravo paid a substantial premium for both firms. The $65.25 per share of common stock that it offered for SailPoint when it first announced plans to acquire the firm in April represented a more than 31% premium on SailPoint's share price at the time. Similarly, Thoma Bravo's offer for Ping Identity represented a premium of more than 63% of the identity vendor's closing share price at the time of the offer in early August.

The premiums reflect the growing value that investors and other technology firms have begun attaching to IAM firms over the past two years. Much of it is being driven by the realization that companies moving to the cloud and supporting more distributed workforces also require new approaches to IAM.

Cloud Migration Driving IAM Demand

"Identity is core to digital transformation," says Richard Stiennon, chief research analyst at IT-Harvest. "Enterprises are looking closely at identity because they are moving to a zero-trust approach as they transition to the cloud."

Stiennon says that as enterprises move to the cloud, there is an opportunity for them to consolidate their IAM platforms. New and simpler ways to handle identities and authentication have become available which give enterprise organizations a way to consolidate their identity infrastructures in the cloud, he says.

Accelerated cloud adoption is also giving identity-security vendors a window of opportunity to broaden their footprint in a market that Microsoft has dominated since introducing Active Directory more than two decades ago, Stiennon notes. 

"Thoma Bravo is making opportunistic moves," he says, adding that a recent and general decline in cybersecurity stock valuations has created a great buying opportunity for the company.

"It raised a $22.8 billion fund two years ago, and it is putting that capital to work" through strategic investments like those involving SailPoint and Ping, he says.

Near Doubling of Market Size in Next Five Years

MarketsandMarkets has estimated that global demand for IAM technologies will grow from around $13.4 billion in 2022 to some $25.6 billion by 2027. The market research firm has identified several factors as driving this growth including the aforementioned proliferation of cloud-based IAM technologies and services, rapid adoption of hybrid cloud models, and an overall increase in cybersecurity spending post-COVID-19. 

Others, such as Jupiter Research, have estimated similar growth. The analyst firm has predicted that the IAM market will top $26 billion in 2027, driven largely by purchases by small businesses that hitherto have not made big investments in IAM platforms. The growing proliferation of relatively inexpensive software-as-a-service (SaaS) and cloud subscription services for identity management is making it possible for this segment to make these new investments, the research firm said.

Thoma Bravo's latest acquisitions add to the rapid growing portfolio of cybersecurity vendors that the private equity firm now owns. Other major acquisitions in the last few years include Proofpoint, McAfee, LogRhythm, Imperva, Sophos, and Veracode.

However, the company is just one of several that have snapped up IAM vendors just this year alone. Examples of others who have made similar investments include Vectra AI's purchase of identity security and cloud posture management vendor Siriux Security Technologies in January; SentinelOne's March purchase of Attivo Networks for $616 million in cash; and Avast's purchase of SecureKey for an undisclosed sum in April.

Stiennon says there has also been substantial funding activity in the IAM space. So far this year, there has been a total of $1.4 billion invested in 18 identity vendors, he says. 

"Last year saw $2.8 billion in 44 companies, and 2020 saw $2.6 billion in 48 vendors. I expect the pace of investments in IAM to continue at current levels or increase over the next two years," he says. Stiennon estimates there are some 400 vendors in the identity space overall currently. Forty of them have more than 400 employees.

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