Seven and a half years ago, I left Reed Elsevier with a vision of building a dynamic, global business information platform. I knew from the start that the world was changing, but in January of 2007 we had not foreseen the start of the greatest financial crisis since the Great Depression. I had decided in the fall of 2006, with my departure from Reed Elsevier being imminent, to partner with Austin Ventures’ Growth Equity team. During 2007 and early 2008 we considered five unique business verticals for platform opportunities. It started to become clear in the spring of 2008, as the world’s financial foundations began to shake, that if we were going to emerge on the other side and start a recovery cycle the need for transparency and new regulations would drive the growth of the financial information sector.
Many of you, I trust, have noticed that I have been remarkably quiet over the past several months. We decided late in the fall of 2013 that 2014 would be the time to run a sale process and deliver a return for our sponsor, Austin Ventures and its limited partners. Since 2009 we had made seven acquisitions, five significant companies and two product lines. As we started 2014, we had almost doubled in size since 2009 and our cash flow had increased almost 4 times. The first three companies we purchased in 2009, Asset International, The Trade and Strategic Insight, gave us the building blocks for our global expansion in the asset management and securities servicing sectors for the buy side. Our clear focus on the global retirement market and the demographics of our aging population gave us a clear differentiation from our competitors.
Over the past several months we have been engaged in an auction process to find our new partner. After a very thorough process, that brought interest from firms in both the U.S. and the U.K., I am delighted to say that we are closing this month with Genstar Capital. With 20 first-round bids, one can never be certain who will win the prize, but from the start I believed that with their understanding of the space gained through prior investments and with a first-class investment team, Genstar Capital would be my personal preference if they emerged victorious through the process. Their team, lead by Tony Salewski, invested the time and made the extra effort to understand where we had been over the past five years and, more importantly, where we saw our future growth opportunities.
Together, we have ambitious growth plans to more than triple the size of our company over the next 3-5 years. This growth will be primarily driven by an aggressive acquisition strategy, followed by integration and a new round of organic growth. Our team remains in place and committed to having a high touch with our clients to provide them with the best quality information that will allow for informed decisions to drive their own growth.
As we begin our next chapter, I would like to thank all of our clients for their support and commit to you that your success will continue to be our top priority. I would also like to thank all of our employees, who worked hard every day to turn our vision into reality, even when faced with strong headwinds, particularly in 2009 and 2010. Austin Ventures, in particular Ken DeAngelis and Phil Siegel, who supported our growth over the past 7 years, deserve special recognition.
Finally, our new partner Genstar Capital, who believes in our story and our team, also deserves our thanks. With their support and resources behind us, we know that we can continue to earn your trust every day, as together we identify opportunities for growth.
With my best personal regards,
Chairman & CEO