ScaleUp Milestone Series – Bullhorn’s Acquisition

Published

Insight has been a long-time admirer of Art Papas and the Bullhorn team. Art originally co-founded Bullhorn back in 1999 and has remained as CEO for the past two decades. Insight’s relationship with Art dates back almost as long. Our first dialogue with the Bullhorn team began 2003 (14 years before our investment in Bullhorn), and, over the decade plus in between, we maintained a constant dialogue with Art and team ultimately culminating in our investment in November 2017.

Insight is no stranger to market-leading vertical software businesses, of which Bullhorn certainly qualifies. During our initial diligence on the business, we validated our conviction that Bullhorn was the clear staffing software market leader, well positioned for continued growth. Our key thesis points at the time of investment were centered around four main highlights: 1) clear market leader with ability to broaden product suite, 2) viable and meaningful M&A opportunity, 3) resilient business through economic cycles, and 4) world class management team with strong domain expertise. In particular, there are two areas where Insight and the Bullhorn team doubled-down:

  • M&A: In the year’s leading up to our investment, Bullhorn had successfully acquired five businesses. Insight saw an opportunity to double down on this past M&A success by leveraging our outbound sourcing team to drive further inorganic growth through M&A, with key potential areas for future M&A identified to include adjacent product expansion, international expansion, and inline staffing market consolidation. During our diligence process, we worked closely with Art and team to identify a list of high priority M&A targets, many of which we were already in dialogue with, and mapped out a near-term gameplan for M&A.
    • Outcome: Since our investment in Bullhorn, we have helped the company complete six acquisitions over the past three years. This began quickly out of the gates with Bullhorn’s acquisition of Peoplenet in November 2017, helping Bullhorn to accelerate its product roadmap with solutions for time, attendance, and expense management. Shortly thereafter, Bullhorn acquired Talent Rover and Jobscience to accelerate the delivery of its global Salesforce offering. Bullhorn then shifted its attention to acquiring Invenias, to expand deeper into the executive search firm market, and Erecruit, a leading provider of applicant tracking and pay & bill solutions for staffing firms. And most recently in 2020, Bullhorn completed its acquisition of Herefish, a provider of automation solutions for staffing firms.
  • Product: At the time of Insight’s investment, Bullhorn had already built the leading ATS/CRM platform for the staffing industry. Nonetheless, management was not satisfied and had identified several near-term and longer-term product roadmap investments to help continue to maintain product leadership, including building out deeper middle office and analytics capabilities, developing AI/ML applications, and creating enhanced localization in international markets.
    • Outcome: Insight supported and pushed management to invest heavily in organic product development from day one, especially as it relates to the middle-office suite and AI/ML capabilities. Art and team believed strongly in expanding the suite they delivered to customers and always staying on the cutting edge of technology to deliver the best ROI. Via both organic development and M&A, Bullhorn has succeeded in building out a broader suite of capabilities during Insight’s hold period, which has helped drive increased value for Bullhorn’s customers while enabling Bullhorn to increase its addressable market opportunity both domestically and internationally. And has driven continued growth in cross-sell product bookings for Bullhon.

Congratulations to Art and the rest of the Bullhorn team! We have greatly enjoyed working together over the past three years and are looking forward to the next phase of the Bullhorn journey under Stone Point’s ownership.

  • Byron Lichenstein

    Byron Lichtenstein, Principal, Onsite

    Byron joined Insight in 2015. Prior to starting with Insight, he worked as a Consultant with Bain & Company in their New York and Boston offices. His work at Bain focused on advising both public and private companies on long-term product and go-to-market strategy definition, internal process redesign, and supply chain optimization. He also spent…
  • David Spiro

    David Spiro, Principal

    David Spiro is a Principal at Insight and joined the firm in 2013. At Insight, he focuses on investments in both high growth and mature software businesses and is responsible for executing transactions and assisting in portfolio management post-close. David has worked with Insight’s investments in Duck Creek, Payfactors, OneTrust, Diligent…