Reapit has today been purchased in a management buyout backed by an American venture capital firm, Accel-KKR (AKKR).
With Reapit turning over circa £10m a year, the deal – done in the early hours of this morning – is thought to be £50m-plus.
Over 60 potential backers had expressed their interest in Reapit, which is the single biggest brand serving the UK estate agency market.
The move was precipitated by the decision of its co-founder and chairman George Stead to retire at the age of 74.
Staying on are CEO Gary Barker, sales director Simon Whale and client services director Matthew Goddard.
Stead said he decided a few months ago that the growth of the company would be better served under a younger chairman, and that he has a lifetime policy of selling shares back to the company he founded.
This morning, in an exclusive briefing with EYE, Barker said that the process of finding new backers had begun some months ago.
He said of the enormous interest in Reapit: “We were if you like the first proptech company. We have been going 20 years, we’re proven and we’re profitable – in the proptech world, that’s a rare thing.”
He said that as a proptech company, Reapit is operating in an increasingly competitive and very well-funded market, and that AKKR’s sole focus is technology: “It does not have anything in its portfolio which is not tech-based,” he said.
Reapit, which offers an integrated platform for agents incorporating sales, lettings, property management and client accounts, has enjoyed strong growth, both in the UK and, from four years ago, in Australia. In today’s briefing, it was revealed that altogether, the firm’s RPS software is used in 17 countries – although not America.
With new US backers, that could be set to change: “The market in the US is potentially a large opportunity,” said Barker, who said that the software has already been internationalised in terms of language.
Worldwide, there are over 200 companies and 20,000 users, with further growth now a given.
Park Druett, managing director at AKKR, said: “We look forward to working with the Reapit team to grow and extend its product leadership with the leading estate and letting agencies across the UK and Australia.”
Maurice Hernandez, principal at AKKR who is based in London, said: “Our investment in Reapit further solidifies our long-standing commitment to support the UK’s leading software companies in their growth plans.”
Reapit’s recent innovations in the UK include Jet, which offers an off-the-peg solution suitable for smaller agents, and was launched in February. As of today, said Whale, there are 50 clients and 500 users who have gone live with the product – with the ability to be able to put users live within 24 hours of sign-up.
Another new innovation enables agents to offer 24/7 online viewing bookings and valuations: take-up so far has been 10% of the client base. The attraction, says Reapit, is that it gives high street firms the same technological offering as the likes of Purplebricks.
The very latest offering, RPS Mobile, has only just gone live, and as of this morning has five clients using it.
Whale paid tribute to the firm’s clients. He said: “As you’d expect with a deal of this size that there was a huge amount of due diligence done. Part of that process was for AKKR to speak to our clients to find out what we were like. We’ve always positioned ourselves as being a partner rather than a supplier and however trite that may sound, it’s what we believe. I think the reference process proved that.
“We were thrilled by the glowing references that they provided.”
In today’s briefing, the Reapit team also paid particular tribute to their 146-strong staff in both the UK and Australia, describing them as outstandingly talented.
Barker said: “We will now be on the look-out for more great people to join us.”