Canadian digital forensics specialist taken private, to merge with US partner

With public share values of North American tech companies dropping and management laying off staff, a Canadian maker of digital investigation solutions for police has found a savior: Being bought by a private equity firm.

Magnet Forensics of Waterloo, Ont. said this afternoon it has struck a deal to be bought by American-based Thoma Bravo for about $1.8 billion.

Following the closing of the deal, Thoma Bravo intends to combine Magnet with Grayshift LLC, which Thoma Bravo acquired majority control of in July 2022. Grayshift specializes in mobile device digital forensics solutions for lawful access and  data extraction.

“The companies’ complementary offerings are expected to create a powerful end-to-end digital investigations platform empowering more public safety agencies around the world to seek justice, solve crimes, and protect victims,” Thoma Bravo said in a news release.

Magnet and Grayshift aren’t strangers. In 2019 they formed a partnership, and according to the Globe and Mail, Magnet tried to buy Grayshift last year but was outbid by Thoma Bravo.

Adam Belsher and Jad Saliba, founders of Magnet, and David Miles and Braden Thomas, founders of Grayshift, will each hold critical leadership positions in the new organization. Magnet’s Chair, former BlackBerry executive Jim Balsillie, will serve on the board of the combined company.

Thoma Bravo has a long history of taking publicly-traded tech companies and overhauling them, and, where possible, turning them public again or selling them to another firm. For example, last spring investment firm KKR & Co. bought Barracuda Networks from Thoma Bravo for a reported US$4 billion. Thoma Bravo took Barracuda private in 2017.

It has also been buying identity access management firms. Last year it bought ForgeRock, Sailpoint and Ping Identity for a total of US$12 billion.

Where does the company get money for these deals? From trusting investors who get their money back from the eventual sale or new public offerings of the rescued firms. In December Thoma Bravo announced the completion of fundraising for its buyout funds, totaling more than US$32.4 billion in capital commitments.

“We believe the combination of Magnet and Grayshift will unlock tremendous value for our customers by further integrating and expanding our product suite which will result in more seamless workflows in the recovery and analysis of critical digital evidence to investigations and ultimately contribute to our shared mission of the pursuit of justice,” Magnet chief executive officer Adam Belsher said in a statement.

“We look forward to partnering with Thoma Bravo and Grayshift to build upon our digital investigation suite to further innovate and continue to serve a growing number of organizations and use cases. We are confident that this transaction — joining two complementary organizations to form a new private company — offers the most compelling value creation for all our stakeholders and is a testament to the value of digital investigation solutions, the Magnet platform, our talented team, and loyal customer base.”

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Howard Solomon
Howard Solomon
Currently a freelance writer, I'm the former editor of and Computing Canada. An IT journalist since 1997, I've written for several of ITWC's sister publications including and Computer Dealer News. Before that I was a staff reporter at the Calgary Herald and the Brampton (Ont.) Daily Times. I can be reached at hsolomon [@]

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