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BCMS advises the shareholders of Firmstep on its sale to Vista Equity-backed Granicus

INSIGHT: View all Insights articles.
  • Firmstep and Granicus join forces to accelerate digitisation of public services

  • Vista Equity Partners-backed Granicus makes first overseas acquisition

  • SaaS duo to unify technologies into a single engagement platform

BCMS has advised the shareholders of government SaaS specialist Firmstep on its sale to Granicus, the leading provider of cloud-based software solutions and digital engagement services for the public sector.

The acquisition brings together Firmstep's proven capability and experience transitioning hundreds of UK government services and transactions online with Granicus' leading public sector communications, government website design, and meeting management software. The Firmstep acquisition enables Granicus to significantly accelerate its mission and commitment to deliver the industry’s first and only unified civic engagement platform. 

London-based Firmstep was established in 2001 and has developed the UK's leading SaaS platform for automating government services, working with one in three UK local authorities to accelerate the online migration of transactions, applications, and service requests.

Founded in 1999, Granicus is the leading US provider of cloud-based communication software and digital engagement services to help the public sector move more services online. The Minnesota-headquartered group has been backed by Vista Equity Partners since 2016.

"Firmstep was founded to empower U.K. governments to deliver easier, faster and better customer service," said Firmstep CEO Brett Husbands. "By bringing Granicus and Firmstep together, we have the opportunity to replicate in the U.S. the success we've achieved in nearly one-third of U.K. local governments - helping government organizations lead with a ‘digital-first’ services strategy, better serve and engage today’s modern citizens, and ensure that every interaction is streamlined and executed with automated workflow and service visibility." 

Firmstep was advised by the corporate finance team at BCMS (Doug Edmunds, Simon Glover, Andy Denny, Lee Robbins and Madhavi Sodha), with legal support from Squire Patton Boggs (Paul Mann).

Husbands says of the transaction; "We had decided to move quickly to a sale process having received several expressions of interest in our business, and selected BCMS as our chosen advisor for the sale of Firmstep. 

We saw the US market as the next key growth area, and a complexity was that one of the interested parties was a key strategic partner in that territory. It was therefore essential that any process be handled with a high degree of sensitivity. 

BCMS tailored a process that ultimately lasted just 6 months. We had multiple interested parties, but Doug and his team took a finely judged approach to create a competitive environment whilst ensuring that relationships could be preserved throughout the discussions and negotiations. Once we had established a preferred bidder, BCMS guided us though the complexities of the deal, and supported us throughout the due diligence phase to an ultimately successful conclusion."

BCMS Lead Advisor Doug Edmunds commented: "We are delighted to have been able to assist Brett and Firmstep in preparing, negotiating and closing this transaction in just six months. This deal with Granicus creates a powerful new player in a global market where there is still much to do to migrate public interactions with government bodies online, and we are confident that both will thrive."

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Posted Apr 2019
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