Network security company Proofpoint goes private in $12.3B deal


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Private equity firm Thoma Bravo has announced plans to acquire cybersecurity company Proofpoint in a deal worth $12.3 billion.

The deal serves as further evidence, if any was needed, that demand for cloud-based security is at an all-time high, driven in large part by the continued embrace of cloud computing and the rise of remote work, which necessitates robust network security.

Founded in 2002 by former Netscape CTO Eric Hahn, Proofpoint was originally known for an email security product that helped businesses identify spam, viruses, and other electric correspondence that might contravene company policies. In the subsequent years, the Sunnyvale, California-based company has expanded its scope to include an array of cloud-based security products designed to protect enterprises from targeted threats.

Proofpoint went public back in 2012, with its shares trading initially at around $13 — these have grown steadily over the past decade, hitting an all-time high of $140 earlier this year, giving it a market capitalization of more than $7 billion.

Thoma Bravo has a track record of taking publicly-traded cybersecurity companies private, having done just that with network security company Barracuda in 2017 deal worth $1.6 billion and Sophos last year for $3.9 billion. The Proofpoint deal, which is expected to close in Q3 2021, sees Thoma Bravo paying a 34% premium on Proofpoint’s closing price at the last full trading day (April 23), with shareholders set to receive $176 for each share that they own.

It’s worth noting that the $12.3 billion price tag positions this as the biggest cybersecurity acquisition of all time, putting it ahead of the $7.68 billion that Intel doled out for McAfee 11 years ago. And by VentureBeat’s calculations, the Proofpoint acquisition represents one of the biggest overall technology acquisitions ever, putting it in the top 20 alongside megadeals including Dell’s $67 billion EMC purchase, IBM’s $34 billion Red Hat deal, and Salesforce’s impending $27.7 billion Slack acquisition.

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