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On Tuesday Vista Equity Partners closed its $1.65 billion deal for Cvent, a publicly traded provider of event and meeting management software. The firm has merged it with its portfolio company, Lanyon, the other big player in this category. It’s notable because shareholders haven’t exactly been optimistic this deal would happen.
The deal was announced in April, but in July, the Justice Department began to scrutinize it. Cvent and Lanyon are market leaders, and antitrust officials have been tough on those kinds of deals (see previously: Office Depot and Staples, Anthem and Cigna). Cvent stock has traded at a sizable discount to Vista’s offering price ever since.
That this deal got approved shows software companies may be capable of getting different antitrust treatment than other industries. Per Bloomberg, Cvent argued in favor of the deal by pointing to Etouches, a Norwalk, Conn.-based startup with $56 million in venture backing. The point being Etouches isn’t a major competitor yet, but it could quickly become one. As software creeps into every sector of the economy, disruption might have an unexpected consequence: enabling consolidation of The Disrupted.
In that way, startups are helping The Disrupted get stronger. Antitrust judges may now be in the strange position of having to evaluate how viable a startup is, and whether its hype and often-exaggerated growth projections can match reality. If Etouches fails, Cvent-Lanyon may find itself in a wide open market.