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Partnering with a SaaS Provider in Financial Close Management and Automation

Background

The Sumeru team frequently invests in enterprise SaaS companies that automate important business processes. In 2013, Silver Lake Sumeru, the predecessor fund to Sumeru Equity Partners, acquired Los Angeles-based BlackLine Systems. Blackline is the leading provider of SaaS solutions to manage and automate mission-critical financial close processes for accounting departments. The company had attractive fundamentals and strong customer references and was addressing a market that still relied on Excel spreadsheets.

BlackLine founder & CEO Therese Tucker evaluated several potential partners to help accelerate growth and decided on Silver Lake Sumeru because of the firm’s partnership model with management and its history of success in scaling enterprise software companies.

Value Creation

Strategic Sales and Product Initiatives

Sumeru worked closely with Therese and her team to triple the company’s sales capacity. This included creating an account management team and a mid-market sales team to increase engagement with existing customers and acquire smaller accounts.

The company significantly expanded its sales channels via strategic partnerships with ERP software vendors and other implementation partners, including top accounting firms. International growth was another key focus area, through direct and indirect sales channels. Growth was also boosted by the introduction of new products and improvements to pricing and packaging.

Key executive hires supported Blackline’s scaling efforts. Sumeru helped recruit a new CFO, Chief Revenue Officer, Chief Technology Officer and Chief Marketing Officer, and added the former CFO of Salesforce to BlackLine’s board of directors to offer strategic guidance.

Results

The 2016 IPO

In 2016 BlackLine went public on NASDAQ on the strength of its strong growth, customer retention rates and compelling market opportunity. During the time between Sumeru’s initial investment and the company’s IPO, BlackLine’s revenues grew organically at close to 50% annually with very strong customer retention and it maintained a business model attractive to public investors. The company made significant investments across all its divisions and tripled its workforce. The same year it debuted on the public markets BlackLine was named a Leader in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Financial Corporate Performance Management.

Because of BlackLine’s strong leadership position in the market and impressive year-over-year growth, we had a choice of investment partners from a number of reputable firms. We selected Sumeru because we felt that their culture and values closely aligned with BlackLine’s. They understand how important our clients and employees are to our long-term goals. We are genuinely excited to leverage their expertise to help us grow.

— Therese Tucker, Founder and CEO

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