**Editor’s Note: Please click here for a recap of the biggest channel-impacting merger and acquisition news from August.**
Two digital SSL vendors on Tuesday dropped significant M&A news — private equity firm Francisco Partners acquiring a majority stake in Comodo CA, and DigiCert closing its acquisition of Symantec’s Website Security and related PKI solutions.
Back in August, private equity firm Thoma Bravo first announced the $950 million acquisition agreement and plans to merge the Symantec business with DigiCert, which it owns. By shedding their respective digital SSL businesses, both Comodo and Symantec can focus more on their endpoint-security and other security-products business.
“Comodo has long been a valued, trusted and innovative leader in the digital-certificate space,” said Francisco Partners founding partner and CEO Dipanjan Deb. “This is demonstrated by 15 years of consecutive growth that was only made possible by leadership and product teams that keenly understand the market and their customers.”
Melih Abdulhayoglu founded Comodo Group in 1998 and Comodo CA was the first business of the Comodo brand, which eventually expanded into other areas of security.
“Today starts an exciting era for the current customers and partners of both Symantec and DigiCert,” said DigiCert CEO John Merrill. “For Symantec customers, they can feel assured that they will have continuity in their website security, and that we will provide a smooth transition. Our customers and partners will benefit from our accelerated investment in products and solutions for SSL, PKI and IoT. DigiCert will also lead to shape PKI security standards through our participation in industry-standards bodies to ensure our customers stay at the forefront of security practices.”
Abdulhayoglu gave a couple of reasons for selling Comodo CA. First, it shores up the company’s position in the changing security certificate marketplace, particularly in light of DigiCert’s Symantec buy. Second, it gives the company’s CEO more time to invest in the other Comodo businesses. Abdulhayoglu also is the founder of industry-standards organization CA/Browser Forum.
In the short time since Francisco Partners and Comodo have been in talks, Abdulhayoglu said that it has already made a huge difference for positioning the company for IoT and enterprise.
“We did not have the full enterprise capability in terms of our sales and marketing. With Francisco Partners, and the breadth of management available, they were able to bring in enterprise-class sales, marketing and product management to take the innovation that we have already and turn it into enterprise as well as an IoT business,” he told us.
By contrast, a combined DigiCert-Symantec has customer breadth across the board. In fact, according to Garrett Bekker, principal security analyst at 451 Research, Symantec was the clear market leader in terms of revenue positioning the company three to four times bigger than its closest competitor. The DigiCert acquisition makes the company the de facto leader in this market in terms of revenue. Symantec, DigiCert and Comodo were among the top three players in the market. Other vendors in the space include Entrust Datacard and GlobalSign.
DigiCert’s Symantec grab was partly a market consolidation move, given that Symantec was the top revenue producer. At the same time, Symantec had racked up debt to the tune of $7.5 billion in recent acquisitions and its website-security and related PKI solutions business wasn’t strategic to its future objectives. At the same time, with the sale of its digital-certificate business to DigiCert, Symantec passes along a controversy over what Google claims were improprieties having to do with …