Walloon Odoo becomes Belgium’s most valuable tech company

American venture capitalist Summit Partners is buying out two other shareholders from Odoo. According to our information, the Walloon software company is valued at 2 to 2.5 billion euros (2.4 to 3 billion dollars) in the operation. That makes Odoo Belgium’s most valuable private tech company.

The Belgian unicorns – unlisted tech companies with a valuation of at least 1 billion dollars – are few and far between. Only the data management company Collibra – valued at $2.3 billion last year – and the web hosting company Team.blue (ex-Combell) belong to that club. The software companies Deliverect and Showpad are well on their way to achieving that billion-dollar status quickly.

From now on Odoo can also call himself a unicorn. Even a double unicorn. CEO Fabien Pinckaers keeps his lips tight, but De Tijd learned that the Walloon Brabant software company was valued at 2 to 2.5 billion euros (2.4 to 3 billion dollars) during a recent redesign of its shareholding. This makes the company not only the first Walloon ‘unicorn’, but also the most valuable Belgian start-up.

The essence

  • Summit Partners buys out (part of) some shareholders from the Walloon software company Odoo.
  • The American venture capitalist puts 180 million euros on the table and becomes the second shareholder after CEO Fabien Pinckaers.
  • Officially, there is no mention of Odoo’s valuation of the deal. De Tijd learned from a good source that this amounts to 2 to 2.5 billion euros (2.4 to 3 billion dollars).
  • This makes Odoo the most valuable Belgian start-up and the first Walloon unicorn (‘unicorn’).

In that operation, the American venture capitalist Summit Partners, who one and a half year ago has entered Odoo’s capital, 180 million euros on the table to buy out its co-investors XAnge (completely) and Sofinnova (partially). Sofinnova has been in the capital of Odoo since 2009, XAnge since 2014.

The legendary Boston investor – an early Uber believer – also bought nearly 1 percent of Odoo shares from Walloon investors SRIW and Noshaq at the same time. As a result, their joint participation falls to approximately 10 percent. It is not known what percentage Summit Partners will hold from now on. Until now, it owned just over 12 percent of the shares. Founder and CEO Pinckaers (52%) remains in control. The management is also a shareholder of Odoo.

Profiel Odoo

> Founded in 2005 by Fabien Pinckaers (CEO).

> Delivered software and applications to SMEs, but also increasingly to larger companies.

> Number of users: 7 million worldwide.

> Revenue (2020): 83 million euros – expected 2021: 125 million.

> 1.700 employees (50% in Belgium). End of 2021: 2,200.

> Elf offices in 8 countries, Headquarters in Grand-Rosière, Waals-Brabant.

> Shareholders: Fabien Pinckaers (CEO), Summit Partners, SRIW, Noshaq, management.

SRIW and Noshaq pumped 23 million euros into the company a year and a half ago. Thanks to today’s deal, they have already recovered that commitment and are sitting on a capital gain of a quarter of a billion euros on paper.

twice repetitive

With its new investment, Summit once again underlines its belief in the fast-growing Odoo, a specialist in software packages for SMEs (see stake). When the venture capitalist invested in the Walloon Brabant company a year and a half ago, Odoo was valued at just under 400 million euros.

Odoo supplies software to SMEs according to the all-in-one principle: a complete toolbox with applications ranging from accounting to sales, customer management, marketing and communication, but also inventory management. It uses an open source model for this: about 80 percent of the software is free, the rest is paid. Odoo is gaining customers at lightning speed: SMEs, but also more and more medium-sized and large users. There are already 7 million in total, compared to 4.5 million a year and a half ago.

“We believe Odoo has the potential to disrupt the business software market dominated by giants such as SAP, MS Dynamics and Oracle,” said Han Sikkens, managing director and head of Europe at Summit Partners.

7 million

NUMBER OF USERS

Odoo is gaining customers at lightning speed. There are already 7 million in total, compared to 4.5 million a year and a half ago.

Summit has one other Belgian company in its portfolio: Cluepoints. Last year it bought almost a quarter of the existing shares of the Walloon company that has developed a technology that makes it possible to detect errors or fraud in clinical trials in the development of new drugs.

Turbo

Over the past 15 years, open source software has been a catalyst for growth and change in the IT industry. She is now mature enough to also transform business software’, says Pinckaers, who was voted Manager of the Year last year by the weekly Trends-Tendances.

The company expects a turnover of 125 million euros for this year, compared to 83 million last year. Odoo is already profitable. It posted a gross operating profit (EBITDA) of EUR 1.7 million last year.

Four questions for Fabien Pinckaers (CEO Odoo)

Start-ups are raising fresh money to finance their growth. At Odoo, the deals revolve around existing shares. So how do you finance your growth?

‘We don’t need fresh money. Odoo is profitable and our cash flow allows us to recruit people and thus grow strongly. Today we have 1,700 employees worldwide. There should be 2,200 by the end of this year. We recruit 125 people per month. Nevertheless, our cash flow is positive. I also don’t want to be watered down and I like to keep control of Odoo.’

How do you explain that Odoo’s valuation has multiplied by six at a year and a half?

‘I cannot and may not confirm or deny you anything about that appreciation. But we are growing fast. The demand from companies for digitization solutions is enormous. Before the corona crisis, many companies were hesitant to digitize. Today it is a matter of survival. Those who do not digitize or do not digitize quickly enough are in danger of disappearing.’

‘Odoo has also been increasingly active in larger companies for a year and a half and not just with SMEs. We are very successful in that market and the growth potential is enormous.’

Is an IPO a long-term goal?

‘New. We do not need external capital or liquidity. The strength of our company is its flexibility. I think the stock market just complicates things. If we can avoid that, so much the better. Summit Partners knows that. We have always been transparent about that.’

Summit will one day want to monetize his participation. Then sell it to a giant in the sector?

‘This is just the beginning. We only have 0.1 percent market share. We still have a long way to go. We want to convince as many SMEs as possible to use our software. There are many players in our sector and there is going to be a consolidation. Within a few years, two to three major players will remain. My target is to be one of those players. I think we can achieve that on our own – without takeovers.’

“It’s not about money. Otherwise we could have sold long ago.’

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