What happens when you have a motivated, experienced, and professional seller with a deep understanding of how the M&A process works, and a professional and experienced buyer? You get what Corum Senior Vice President Joel Cymberg calls a textbook deal, one that runs very smoothly and achieves an optimal result. And that's exactly what happened when Corum client Infinity Software Holdings was acquired by Dura Software. Cymberg was a primary advisor to Infinity during the M&A process.
Infinity is a U.K.-based provider of interaction management software for contact centers. Their software enables clients to build low-code workflows that present their contact center staff with an integrated set of information that they need to deliver the correct response to questions and requests.
Infinity was a successful business, having started in 1995, and whose software was deployed across more than 12,000 seats in 13 countries. However, its Chairman, Richard Jephcott, was in his 70s and soon planned to retire. In addition, Infinity’s major investor, U.K.-based VC firm Midven, wanted to sunset their investment. And after many years in the business, Infinity's executives were also looking for a return on their effort. So it was the right time for Infinity to seek an M&A. It was Midven that pointed Infinity to Corum because it had successfully advised in some other transactions that involved Midven. That pointer ultimately led to a meeting with Cymberg and Corum Chairman Jon Scott at a Corum Selling Up Selling Out event in London, where Infinity's management team signed with Corum to be their M&A advisor.
Actually, Corum was not the first advisor that Infinity employed to test the market. They had previously engaged with another advisor. Although that engagement did not lead to a sale, it did give Infinity an understanding of the market for their company.
Corum immediately went to work, employing its disciplined, eight-stage M&A process. As part of that process, Corum used its extensive research resources to identify potential buyers. That led to an auction environment in which multiple buyers made solid bids for Infinity. One of those buyers was Dura, a U.S.-based company that purchases and operates hyper-niche software companies, that is, companies whose software products fit within a narrow but mission-critical set of use cases. Although Infinity had previously tested the market, it was Corum’s global search process that identified Dura Software as a potential buyer. Infinity had not been aware of Dura previously.
Throughout the process, Cymberg had an excellent working relationship with infinity. Looking back on that relationship, Cymberg stresses that a key factor was Jephcott. Cymberg recalls, "The person who led the deal, who went on point from Infinity's side, was their Chairman ‒ a gentlemen who has completed over a hundred M&A deals. So Infinity’s point person was an expert. He'd been also working inside the business pretty much as a CFO. He created a management control and spreadsheet that was phenomenal. So our ability to gather materials and organize ourselves was very strong because the quality of resource in the business was second to none."
Not only was Infinity a highly professional, motivated working partner in the deal, but so too was Dura. Cymberg was especially struck by Dura's experience and efficiency in purchasing businesses. A relatively young company ‒ it was founded in 2017 ‒ Dura has already acquired 12 companies in a variety of tech niches and geographies. One of those acquisitions was DVSAnalytics, a company that develops workforce optimization solutions for contact centers. Already having a portfolio company in the contact center space, Dura saw Infinity as expanding their capabilities in that space. That interest led to a very attractive offer that Infinity accepted. In fact, Cymberg notes that with the competitive tension that resulted from multiple buyers, Corum was able to get a higher price for Infinity than initially offered.
Jeffcott retired after the deal was completed, but Infinity's CEO Geoff Land, stayed on as Chief Operating Officer of Infinity, now a Dura company. Part of the payout in the deal was deferred in the form of a revenue-based earnout. Cymberg says the fact that Dura paired Infinity with another company in the same niche, DVSAnalytics, creates a synergy in which the earnout targets are more likely to be hit.
With the level of sophistication presented by both the seller and buyer, the deal process went very smoothly. In Cymberg's words, "It was a very vanilla, very linear deal. There weren't any surprises. Nothing came up in due diligence. And when I say nothing, literally nothing. I think it's one of those situations where the client was so experienced in M&A that we all knew what was expected of each other. Ultimately Infinity sold to somebody that they didn't know before. And that's always a good mark of the added value an experienced M&A advisor like Corum can bring to the seller. It's always nice to find a new buyer for the seller. And we did."