‘It was a fun ride’: i-Sight CEO quits case management software company in wake of US equity investment

An Ottawa company that helps some of the world’s largest brands identify, investigate, and prevent fraud, workplace harassment and other corporate crimes is counting on a major investment from a U.S. private equity firm to expand its reach into new global markets to expand.

Case management software provider i-Sight announced last week that Resurgens Technology Partners, an Atlanta-based private equity firm specializing in scaling software companies, is adding the Ottawa-based company to its portfolio.

The terms of the deal have not been disclosed. Under the agreement, Joe Gerard, co-founder and CEO of i-Sight will leave the company and be replaced by David McNeill, a 30-year tech veteran who most recently served as Chief Operating Officer of another Resurgens portfolio company, based in Connecticut. . analysis company Investment Metrics.

Jason Victor, another longtime partner in i-Sight who designed its original software platform two decades ago, will remain in his current position as Chief Technology Officer.

“The timing was right,” Gerard told Techopia, explaining his decision to hand over the keys to the company he launched more than two decades ago with his father Ray and other partners.

“The competitor in me is struggling to walk away, but at the same time I feel like we’ve won the competition a bit in terms of our expectations of what was possible. I have no doubt that i-Sight will continue to thrive. I I certainly don’t regret it. It was a fun ride and I think this is probably the best thing for the company right now.”

“The competitor in me is struggling to walk away, but at the same time I feel like we kind of won the game in terms of our expectations of what was possible.”

Founded in 1999, i-Sight has created a lucrative niche in the business record management space, producing custom software that collects, stores, and analyzes data on all kinds of misconduct, from violations of federal privacy laws to bullying and harassment.

By creating a “central warehouse” for case information, i-Sight’s software aims to enable customers to more effectively investigate human resources complaints and detect potential violations of government regulations.

Among the more than 450 medium and enterprise-level companies leveraging its platform are household names such as insurance giant Aflac, Costco, video game manufacturer EA, meal-kit provider HelloFresh, Red Bull and Twitter.

The local company, which was on Canadian Business’s Growth 500 list of Canada’s fastest-growing companies in 2018 and 2019, added more than 100 new customers to its list last year alone. Gerard said preventing and quickly identifying workplace harassment and related issues has become a top priority for businesses around the world at a time when incidents swept under the rug in earlier eras can now be disclosed in the blink of an eye to a global audience on social media – with potentially crippling financial consequences for employers.

“The difference now is that everyone has a megaphone,” Gerard said. “Any slip-up is potentially a huge liability. I think companies are recognizing that now. They want to make sure that they do something to prevent this kind of thing.

“Things like this get attention at a much higher level in the organization. Instead of some HR director sitting in a corner with three detectives, this now comes straight from the boardroom.”

Scalable product

As i-Sight’s software has grown in popularity, it has also become easier to mass-produce, Gerard added.

While the company’s software engineers spent countless hours tailoring the platform to each customer’s needs, i-Sight has now gathered enough information about detecting, investigating, and mitigating nefarious business activities to develop a template that can be widely implemented and modified as required.

“Now we can come to you and say, ‘Look, the best way to do this is step one, two, three, four, five, six,'” said Gerard, who succeeded his father as CEO in 2016. show up with a blank sheet of paper – we show up with an opinion. I think that’s what customers want.”

The Gerards, Victor and co-founder Geoff English funded i-Sight out of pocket from the start, helping the company grow from a startup with 10 clients and a handful of employees in the first year to a global operation with clients on every continent and a workforce of 190 today.

But i-Sight’s management team believes the company is just scratching the surface. About 90 percent of the company’s revenue comes from North America, and Gerard and his co-founders believed i-Sight needed more financial strength to make significant entry into other markets.

‘We have the question’

An unsolicited investment offer last year opened the team’s eyes to the company’s true potential, Gerard explained. The company then hired Kanata-based M&A consultants Sampford Advisors to conduct an investor search, sparking a surge of interest that led to half a dozen offers.

“We know we have a strong market,” he says. “We got the question, and I think we started thinking about how we can accelerate the growth of the company to seize this opportunity?”

At the same time, Gerard said, he realized that the heavy lifting of building a multinational requires a leader with different skills and perhaps a more disciplined approach than he could provide. He is convinced that i-Sight has found that person in McNeill.

“He’s been there, has done that a few times now,” Gerard said. “He knows the private equity space. He knows M&A. He is a very disciplined operator. He has a history of growing companies and does so with a bit of humanity.”

As for his future, the 45-year-old tech-lifer is looking forward to spending the summer hanging out with his teenage kids and taking it over from there. But once Gerard’s self-described “sabbatical” is over, he said there’s no doubt he’ll be back in the software game in some capacity.

“It’s hard to walk away from this stuff,” Gerard said. “I’m young enough, I still have energy. I’ll have to find something to keep myself busy.”

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