KnowBe4 Inc., a provider of cybersecurity training software, has agreed to be acquired by private equity firm Vista Equity Partners for $4.6 billion.

KnowBe4 announced the deal today, about a month after it first disclosed that it had received a buyout offer from Vista. The $4.6 billion that the private equity firm is offering for the company amounts to $24.9 per share. The proposed price represents a 46% premium to the closing price of KnowBe4’s stock on September 16, the day before word of the acquisition talks emerged.

Founded in 2010, KnowBe4 helps organizations train their employees on how to detect and avoid phishing emails. The company offers a library of courses and other learning resources that organizations can use to support internal cybersecurity training initiatives. KnowBe4’s library includes content that the company develops in-house, as well as learning resources supplied by partners.

KnoweBe4 provides its training platform alongside a number of other software products.

The company offers a tool that can be used to test the effectiveness of an organization’s cybersecurity efforts with simulated phishing attacks. According to KnowBe4, administrators can customize a simulated phishing campaign for specific business units to increase its effectiveness. The tool also includes templates designed to reduce manual work for administrators. 

As part of phishing campaigns, hackers often create websites that attempt to trick a company’s employees into sharing login credentials. KnowBe4’s platform allows a company to create a website similar to those used by hackers and leverage it to test employees’ cybersecurity know-how. The website can also be used to provide cybersecurity advice to employees.

For business users, KnowBe4 provides a tool that makes it possible to report phishing emails to the information technology team. Administrators can use a KnowBe4 product called PhishER to review the phishing attacks flagged by employees. According to the company, PhishER uses machine learning to automate some of the manual tasks usually involved in investigating hacking campaigns. 

KnowBe4 says that its products are used by more than 52,000 organizations. The company closed the second quarter with revenues of $80.8 million, a 36.1% increase from the same time a year ago. Its annualized recurring revenue stood at $328.3 million as of June 30.

“KnowBe4 has a strong record of performance, as evidenced by our market-leading platform and global customer base,” said KnowBe4 founder and Chief Executive Officer Stu Sjouwerman. “Under Vista’s ownership, we will have access to additional resources and support, which will help us achieve our goals and deliver enhanced value to our customers.”

KnowBe4 is going private about 18 months after listing its shares on the Nasdaq. The company raised $144 million through its initial public offering and earlier received a $300 million investment led by KKR. 

KKR and venture capital firm Elephant Partners, another major KnowBe4 stakeholder, have agreed to back Vista’s proposed acquisition of the company. Vista expects to complete the transaction in the first half of 2023. 

Image: KnowBe4

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