KKR Makes Bet on Workforce Optimization

The PE giant is acquiring Calabrio, a maker of call-center software that helps companies to improve customer interactions.
Matthew HellerAugust 30, 2016

Private-equity giant KKR said Tuesday it had agreed to acquire call-center software maker Calabrio, becoming a major player in the growing business of helping companies to improve their customer interactions.

Minneapolis-based Calabrio offers software to identify what works when sales and service representatives are talking with customers and prospective customers on the phone, via e-mail and online. It serves more than 4,000 companies worldwide, including Boeing, Maersk, REI, and VITAS Healthcare.

Terms of the deal with KKR were not disclosed but a person familiar with the matter told The Wall Street Journal it would be a $200 million all-equity transaction.

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“Calabrio has become one of the fastest-growing, quality companies in workforce optimization and customer engagement,” John Park, a director at KKR, said in a news release. “With our partnership, we hope to accelerate the company’s growth even further as the world continues to move toward a customer engagement model through omnichannel integration.”

As the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports, the deal is a relatively small one for KKR but “is a sign of the broader pressure on investment firms to find value at a time of record high stock prices and market caps.”

KKR last month agreed to buy business software company Epicor Software for $3.3 billion. “The technology sector has been a relative bright spot for private-equity deal-making, accounting for the largest share of such trades in the U.S. this year,” the WSJ noted.

Calabrio’s revenue run rate is around $65 million. The company had recently begun to consider several financing options, including its first round of capital raising since 2007.

“After nine years, it was time to refresh the capital table a little bit,” CEO Tom Goodmanson told the Star Tribune. “That gave me the opportunity to find a partner who was interested in this sector.”

A 2015 PwC survey of CEOs ranked data mining and analytics as the second most strategically important digital technology and organization capability for customer engagement, behind only mobile technologies.