Last month saw the acquisition of Boxever by Sitecore, after a very swift process that saw the deal complete and investors realise a significant return on their investment in just over 3 years.
It was an unexpected move but the development was welcomed by all stakeholders, and represented a great result for the management and founders, the institutional investors, and or course for Cantor Fitzgerald’s cohort of EIIS investors.
Founded by Dave O’Flanagan, along with Dermot O’Connor and Alan Giles in 2011, Boxever went on to become one of the most successful companies to come out of the NDRC Launchpad in the Digital Hub (national startup accelerator programme). The team initially worked together at Datalex and spotted the opportunity to create a cloud-based customer intelligence platform that would enhance large brand interactions with consumers – effectively enabling brands to engage with consumers in the same way an Amazon might, by licensing the Boxever platform rather than developing it in house.
Initially the focus was on airline customers, and the company signed up airlines around the globe in very large multi-million-euro, multi-annual deals. At the time of Cantor Fitzgerald client investment in 2017, the company had only airline customers and a highly developed technology platform. Following the 2017 combined investment of $8.5m by Polaris, Frontline and Cantor Fitzgerald clients, total equity investment reached approximately $25m including all previous rounds. The 2017 investment was the last prior to the sale, and it represented a critical juncture for the company. The technology was very highly rated by prestigious customers such as Emirates Airlines, and by research group, Gartner. But it was time to diversify from its reliance on travel and the airline industry. The investment in 2017 enabled and empowered this diversification process, and the company quickly added new customers in financial services, entertainment, telecoms and utilities. The diversification process was a great success – and this stood the company in great stead when in 2020 Covid-19 brought the entire travel sector to a halt. The Boxever team moved very quickly to ensure the financial sustainability of the business at this important juncture and showed strong leadership in doing so. Remarkably, by the end of 2020, the business was adding new customers at its fastest pace ever, and it became clear that the focus on its technology platform was about to really pay off. Five new customers were added in December 2020 alone, and it was clear that its time had come.
Sitecore had taken notice. Initially, the two companies wanted to discuss a partner relationship, but this quickly escalated into something more. Sitecore recognised the value for its customers. By now the Boxever platform had morphed into a full-scale customer experience/digital engagement platform for large scale brands, and the team had proven its ability to scale and handle millions of data points and customer interactions. No time was wasted, and the deal moved from offer to closure at considerable pace.
Sitecore remains in private ownership, majority owned and backed by the private equity house EQT Partners, so it had the resources to move and execute quickly. Founded in Copenhagen in Denmark, the company had ported to San Francisco. With the addition of the Boxever platform, the combined entity is now a firm leader in customer experience technology.
The transaction value remains undisclosed, though investors in the 2017 round earned a strong return on an Internal Rate of Return (IRR) basis of 39%. By including EIIS investors and structuring the 2017 deal by putting together two venture capital funds, a family office, and a significant number of EIIS investors via a nominee company, the economic gain was spread more broadly throughout the investment community, allowing access to transactions that would not otherwise be available. Clearly, we shall be looking to replicate this success in the future and wish the Boxever team every success at their new home as part of Sitecore.
Dave O’Flanagan, CEO and Co-Founder of Boxever stated “It’s been an incredible journey building Boxever. I’m so proud of the company we’ve built and it’s been a privilege working with great customers and such a talented team. This happened in no small part sure to continued backing and patience of our investors and I’d like to thank each of you personally for your support.”
Liam Kiely is a Director of Corporate Finance at Cantor Fitzgerald Ireland.
Contact details for each individual team member can be accessed here on our website should you wish to speak with a Portfolio Manager or Account Executive.