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Gov Tech Biz Quarterly Roundup: Q3 2023 With Jeff Cook

After a slow second quarter, activity picked up between July and October, including some market-signaling moves such as a major investment in Accela that could spur further dealmaking in the coming months.

Closeup on businessman holding a card with Q3 QUARTER 3 message, business concept image with soft focus background and vintage tone
After a dismal level of activity in Q2 2023 — the slowest quarter since I have been writing these quarterly updates — we saw a resurgence of activity this quarter. In last quarter's article I noted that there were more businesses “in market” than there had been all year and, thankfully, most of those businesses ended up successfully transacting and driving volume in Q3.

In Q3 2023, we tracked $2.3 billion in deal value, nearly four times more than the $625 million in the prior quarter of Q2 2023, and up slightly from the $2.1 billion in Q3 2022 a year prior. That brings total year-to-date volume to $5.1 billion versus $5.9 billion for the same time frame in 2022, and with a strong finish to the year there still is a chance that 2023 volume eclipses last year’s volume of $7.4 billion. So it’s not out of the question that 2023 ends up being the second-most active year on record, one of my predictions from earlier this year.

While the headline numbers look good, the most encouraging takeaway from the quarter was the composition of the activity. In contrast to Q1, where we saw a huge deal and several smaller ones, this quarter brought a healthy balance where no single deal drove the activity. But most important was the presence of several new private equity platform investments (like Accela and Exostar) alongside the strategic acquisitions that so far have comprised the vast majority of activity this year. These types of deals tend to be harbingers of future activity, as it gives potential sellers watching from the sidelines increased confidence of getting their own deal done, and also usually sets off consolidation activity as those new platforms look to be acquisitive. It also signals the gradual “thawing out” of private equity activity — nearly every article about deal activity mentions private equity’s record amount of “dry powder,” and as each quarter goes by there is more and more pressure and urgency for investors to put that to work. Looking ahead to the rest of the year and into the early part of next year, we expect that what we saw this quarter will continue, as the leading indicators in our business certainly suggest even more activity on the horizon.

The volume metrics above and transactions below are for deals announced between July 1, 2023 and Sept. 30, 2023.


Accela Receives Strategic Investment from Francisco Partners

Why it matters: Community development, specifically in the areas of licensing and permitting, has emerged as one of the most active sectors in the government technology market as business and residential development processes rapidly digitize. Accela has long been a household name in the gov tech market, focused on licensing and permitting for the largest population centers. The business underwent a major transition since Berkshire Partners invested in 2017, undertaking both a “SaaS-ification” of its business while also rationalizing its portfolio as it divested businesses such as Springbrook and IQM2. Now, Accela’s next chapter starts with a strategic investment from Francisco Partners, a global investment firm that specializes in partnering with technology and technology-enabled businesses. Berkshire Partners, a Boston-based private equity firm that acquired Accela in 2017, will remain a significant investor with an equal equity holding. Accela serves more than 300 million citizens worldwide.


LeadsOnline Acquires Forensic Technology from Ultra Electronics

Why it matters: We have seen a spike in activity driving consolidation in the forensics and investigations market segment in the last 18 months, with transactions such as Thoma Bravo’s majority investment in Grayshift and subsequent merger with Magnet Forensics, Spire Capital’s investment in PenLink and TA Associates' investment in LeadsOnline. LeadsOnline has been an active acquirer, buying out Business Watch International (data management system for pawn, second-hand and precious and scrap metal businesses) and Hawk Analytics (call data analytics platform for investigative agencies) in 2022, and more recently, Forensic Technology, a business unit of Ultra Electronics and portfolio company of Advent International. Forensic Technology’s ballistic identification technology combined with LeadsOnline’s suite of data, technology and investigative tools will provide law enforcement agencies with a more robust solution for gun crime investigations. Montreal-based Forensic Technology also expands the company’s international presence.

Arlington Capital Partners Agrees to Acquire Exostar

Why it matters: In another notable private equity platform deal, Arlington Capital Partners announced it agreed to acquire Exostar from Thoma Bravo. Based in Virginia, Exostar accelerates digital transformation initiatives of users in highly regulated industries including aerospace and defense, health care and life sciences. It also mitigates risks when engaging with global communities of customers, partners and suppliers. Exostar’s product portfolio allows users to share sensitive information in a trusted environment and transact business securely, compliantly and efficiently across multi-tiered networks. Arlington’s acquisition will position the company to continue building on the significant growth and transformation realized under Thoma Bravo, driving product development and expanding solutions for customers.

gWorks Acquires BMSI

Why it matters: gWorks, a Nebraska-based provider of software solutions designed specifically for small and medium-sized cities and rural communities, has acquired BMSI, a provider of tax and utility billing, work order and human resource solutions for local governments. It's gWorks’ third acquisition since taking investment from private equity firm BV Investment Partners after buying out PubWorks, a public works software provider, and Softline Data, a provider of utility billing, meter reading and alerting software, in 2022. BMSI adds additional functionality in tax and utility billing, work order and human resource solutions, expanding the breadth of gWorks as the company continues to carve out a niche as a modern platform serving smaller governments.

Arlington Capital Partners Acquires Integrated Data Services

Why it matters: The Washington, D.C.-based private equity firm, Arlington Capital Partners, also acquired Integrated Data Services (IDS), an industry-leading provider of mission-critical software and related support and development services for the federal government. IDS’ flagship software solution, Comprehensive Cost and Requirement (CCaR) automates historically manually intensive program portfolio management processes. Headquartered in El Segundo, Calif., the company serves nearly 30 customer locations across the U.S. Air Force, Army, Space Force and other defense and civilian departments. This marks another government technology platform deal this quarter for Arlington.

GCOM Merges With OnCore Consulting

Why it matters: GCOM, a company that specializes in outcome-driven solutions for state and local governments, and OnCore Consulting, a provider of technology modernization and digital transformation services for the California public sector, have merged. The combination of GCOM and OnCore creates a nationwide digital software and solutions vendor focused solely on the public-sector market. Together, the two companies will specialize in health and human services and taxes, among other critical areas for state and local agencies. Backed by private equity firm Sagewind Capital, GCOM has been an active acquirer in recent years: It bought out government AI and advanced analytics platform ASR Analytics in 2022; and in 2021 it purchased data analytics and business intelligence firm Qlarion, and Authomate, a digital identity solution that protects credentials and increases security controls.

Munetrix Acquires Eidex

Why it matters: Education technology has been an active sector as the pandemic rapidly accelerated the adoption of digital learning tools and highlighted the enduring importance of innovative educational solutions and platforms. Munetrix's acquisition of Eidex brought it into the education sector. Founded in 2012, Eidex is a K-12 data analytics company that enables schools to leverage data to help students succeed. The company serves more than 500 schools, primarily in Michigan. The acquisition adds incremental product capabilities to Munetrix’s K-12 performance analytics platform and expands the combined company’s geographic footprint. The acquisition marks the second for Munetrix; in April 2022 it acquired public-sector planning and analytics software firm Dynamo Metrics.

Brydon Acquires Peak Performance

Why it matters: The Brydon Group, an investment firm that partners with mid-career executives to acquire small businesses, announced its acquisition of Peak Performance, a provider of training, compliance and audit software for federal, state and local law enforcement agencies. With 1.4 million users and 70 federal and state-level customers, Peak Performance aims to deliver timely and accurate information to law enforcement. With Brydon, the company plans to introduce new products such as Agency Relationship Management for state law enforcement agencies. The law enforcement market, particularly within training, compliance and policy management, will remain an active segment as large players such as Lexipol, NEOGOV and Vector Solutions continue to consolidate.

FieldWare Acquires Uptrust

Why it matters: Public safety technology has been incredibly active in the last few years, including, more recently, the “resolution” end of the incident life cycle (think courts and justice). FieldWare’s acquisition of Uptrust is a notable example this quarter — both companies provide technology solutions for public defenders, prosecutors and other relevant stakeholders in the legal system. The strategic acquisition aims to increase completion rates for court-mandated programs and reduce the time defendants spend in jail with digital and automated engagement tools. FieldWare, an established vendor of software solutions for the justice system and community supervision agencies, has more than 50 state, county and local clients in the U.S. Together, FieldWare and Uptrust will seek to modernize and streamline the justice system, reducing the need for in-person visits.

Tyler Technologies Acquires Computing System Innovations

Why it matters: Another example of legal system market activity is the acquisition of Computing System Innovations (CSI) by Tyler Technologies. Based in Florida, CSI provides AI automation, redaction and indexing solutions for courts, recorders and attorneys. The company’s AI technology analyzes courts' document oversight and case management workflows to develop automated solutions that streamline processes across federal, state, county and local court systems. Tyler plans to leverage CSI’s AI and automation technology across other verticals, including municipalities and schools, property and recording and platform solutions. CSI was founded in 1987 and has more than 80 clients across the country.

Modaxo Acquires Civix’s Critical Infrastructure Division

Why it matters: Civix, a portfolio company of HKW, announced the sale of its Critical Infrastructure division to Modaxo, a global transportation technology organization based in Canada. The sale aligns with Civix's strategy to concentrate on its core state and local government business. By divesting Critical Infrastructure, Civix aims to redirect resources and capital into its team of public-sector experts and government solutions. The Critical Infrastructure division will operate under Modaxo's TADERA brand, providing integrated solutions to major airports worldwide. The acquisition marks Modaxo's first in the aviation segment.

IVIX Raises $12.5M

Why it matters: IVIX has raised a $12.5 million Series A led by Insight Partners, with participation from Team8, Citi Ventures and Cardumen Capital. Founded in 2020, IVIX enables tax authorities to identify cases of tax noncompliance to increase revenue. Government agencies rely on tax collection to fund budgets, and every dollar counts as agencies look to maximize funds available for infrastructure projects, benefits programs and other critical citizen services. IVIX leverages a combination of publicly available business data and internal agency data to help agencies combat tax evasion and other financial crimes. The raise will enable IVIX to invest in R&D and global expansion.
Jeff Cook is a managing director at Shea & Co., an investment bank that has advised in more than 20 gov tech deals (investments and exits) in the past 5 years.