Sonatype takes long view as it sells out to Vista Equity Partners

Code hygiene specialist Sonatype has been taken over by Vista Equity Partners, joining the private equity group’s roster of software firms you might, or might not, remember.

Vista has acquired a majority interest in the firm, whose Nexus product helps customers keep track of the open source components in their software, and ensure security fixes are applied.

Brian Fox, cofounder and CTO of Sonatype, said the company would remain independent within Vista’s 60 plus roster of companies, which includes the likes of Forcepoint and Infoblox in the security space, as well as Tibco.

There are no immediate plans to change the roadmap or product lineup at Sonatype in the wake of the move, said Fox, though the firm hoped to be able to access expertise in its new stablemates particularly around AI and machine learning. “The expectation is that things continue as planned for the foreseeable future.”

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At the same time, the firm hoped to benefit from the expertise of Vista and its portfolio as it worked to build and scale out its organisation. “We’re at an inflexion point…the appeal is best practices,” said Fox.

Looking a little further ahead, the deal meant Sonatype could contemplate acquisitions to bolster its products. “There’s lots of opportunities…we haven’t decided on anything yet.”

For its part, Vista clearly sees the deal as a way of buying into DevOps, with Patrick Severson, Principal at Vista Equity Partners, saying Sonatype’s products “empower software development teams to continuously innovate responsibly and with the highest quality and most secure open source across every stage of the digital supply chain. We are pleased to partner with Sonatype as they continue to grow their company in the large and rapidly expanding DevOps market.”

Depending on your point of view, it seems to be something of a buyers’ market for “devopsy” firms at the moment. Docker is the most spectacular recent case of a company suddenly finding itself in distress as an enthusiastic community fails to turn into a business model. More broadly, there has been a steady drip of acquisitions over the last year, sometimes to private equity, sometimes to their rivals.

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