The news today from Baremetrics is that Josh Pigford has sold it to Xenon Partners. Which is good news in general but the real news is how open and transparent Josh is about the details, I sold Baremetrics. Seriously, you never see this in a private transaction:
Purchase Price: $4,000,000 in cash
What I walk away with: $3,700,000 in cash
Multiple: ~2.65x ARR
Buyer: Xenon Partners (tech private equity firm)
Close Date: November 2020
Payment Structure: 3 payments (at close, 12 months & 18 months)
Who on earth tells you these things in a private acquisition? Well Josh does and the value of this is immense to anyone of a similar size (annual recurring revenue of approximately $1,500,000) in the WordPress ecosystem. Yes I’m talking to all you plugin/theme providers.
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There are a number of companies on the hunt to grow portfolios (some are justing beginning, others are very obviously on the prowl), and we’ve seen these acquisitions happen. The big buyers are the hosting companies and names we all know:
- Endurance (Bluehost)
- InMotion (Web Ventures)
- WP Engine
All of these hosting companies are fighting the commoditization of hosting – no, sorry, you can’t be a viable and growing host with shared packages at $2.99/year. The differentiation is in the bundle, and over the next few years, walled gardens like Wix and Squarespace. The trick is buying up the right providers, with the right installed base, for the right price.
Back to Baremetrics, I’ve had some off the record conversations with WordPress investors and the numbers provided seem to be on target. That is, unless your product is the next Netflix of WordPress, you shouldn’t be expecting multiples much greater than 3x (again at the ARR range of $1m to $5m. It’s not going to happen, the investors are savvy and having been doing this for years. They know what’s reasonable, and have to take into account the risk/losses from a portion of their portfolio.
One thing that has really struck me though is the writing off of the investments by General Catalyst and Bessemer. I’ve honestly never seen this, investors are always going to get a piece of a sale. Either that is some of the best goodwill I’ve ever seen, or needing some losses for tax purposes. Or I have no idea.