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Helping a Flight Planning and Navigation Software Company Fly High

Background

ForeFlight is a Texas-based developer of digital flight planning and navigation software for pilots, flight operations personnel, government agencies, the military and major airlines. The team from Silver Lake Sumeru, the predecessor fund to Sumeru Equity Partners, met the company in 2013, when it was the first to offer iPhone- and iPad-based navigation programs for pilots. This innovation by ForeFlight began a movement in the aviation industry away from paper charts and maps toward all-digital solutions, which can improve the safety and efficiency of flight operations. The Sumeru team was impressed with the superior user interface, elegant designs and market-leading features of ForeFlight’s mobile and SaaS products.

The company’s business was successful and growing, but its founders wanted to accelerate growth, add new products, and make acquisitions. ForeFlight was looking for the right partner to build a world-class company. Silver Lake Sumeru recognized the value in the company’s team, its highly regarded products and its market leadership, and the firm became ForeFlight’s first outside investor in 2014. The Sumeru team worked in close partnership with ForeFlight’s founders and key employees, all of whom remained in their roles and were instrumental in the company’s success.

Value Creation

Putting the Plan in Motion

We worked closely with ForeFlight to build enterprise sales capabilities, develop new products, and expand internationally.

The company made key hires to support growth and built out enterprise sales capabilities to help ForeFlight expand further into the public and private sector markets, including business aviation and commercial airlines. Sumeru helped recruit the former CEO of a large global airline to the company’s board. The company also expanded the product line beyond charts and flight planning, developing core technologies and a portfolio of valuable intellectual property.

Working with ForeFlight’s top executives, the Sumeru team helped the company penetrate markets outside of North America and completed M&A transactions that added complementary products to serve those markets.

Results

Over Sumeru’s investment, ForeFlight’s revenues grew profitably at a 30% annual rate. The company increased headcount and tripled its investment in research and development. ForeFlight also acquired several other companies, and now serves enterprise, military, aviation and airline customers from offices in the U.S. and Europe. ForeFlight was acquired by Boeing in 2019.

I’ve had the opportunity to work with many professionals over the years as both an entrepreneur and an investor. The professionals we worked with at Sumeru are unlike any I’ve worked with before. They are wise, patient, collaborative, insightful, reasonable and impressively supportive. I would look forward to working with them again in the future, knowing that in the end their highly professional team will help to ensure that value is both created and preserved.

— Tyson Weihs, Cofounder and CEO

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