LDC makes further tech investment

Will Crandle, Horsefly

Private equity investor LDC has made a further investment into technology businesses locally by buying Horsefly, an artificial intelligence-based talent analytics platform, to try and propel the business internationally.

Based in Prescot, the business was previously in receipt of venture capital investment from Enterprise Ventures, and then came under the ownership of fund manager Mercia when EV was acquired. 

The price hasn’t been disclosed, but with Mercia is claiming a successful exit and said their support has led to year-on-year growth since 2018 and a doubling of revenues in the last financial year.

LDC’s North West investments last year included Warrington-based HR technology platform Talos360 and a £25m minority investment into Manchester digital agency CTI.

LDC also has a strong track record in supporting HR-related software businesses with human capital management solution business Talos 360 and recruitment solutions business Amberjack in its current portfolio. This follows successful partnerships which helped Mitrefinch double its revenues and expand internationally, CIPHR invest in product development and Texthelp expand across the US.

Jacob Leone, Investment Manager at LDC, who will join the board, said: “Horsefly’s market-leading platform provides its clients with actionable insight to help them shape their workforce in an ever-changing global economy. The drive, passion and ambition of Will and his team is infectious – we can’t wait to help them continue their growth.”

LDC is backing founder and chief executive Will Crandle who will continue to grow the business organically, both in the UK and internationally.

LDC’s investment was led by Jacob Leone and Camilla Greenwood from the Manchester office.  Both have joined the board alongside incoming chair David Gilbertson who is an experienced non-executive director in the business intelligence sector.

Crandle said: “We are really proud of our growth in the last few years, and I’d like to thank Keith Jones, our co-founder and seed investor, and Mercia not only for funding our early years but also for appointing my most crucial mentor as Chair, Rod Hyde, who helped our brilliant team establish Horsefly as a leading talent analytics platform.

“LDC’s experience in helping software businesses to successfully expand across the US is second-to-none, but I was also looking for a genuine partner and I’ve found that in LDC. I’m excited about working with Jacob, Camilla and the team to deliver on our ambitious growth plans.”

Horsefly enables HR-decision making at international organisations including Coca Cola, EDF Energy, Manpower, Indeed, Jaguar Land Rover, The UK Home Office and Virgin Media. Its subscription-based Software as a Service (SaaS) platform gathers and aggregates granular, real-time data on labour markets from 60 countries, creating insight into business-critical issues such as global talent sourcing, onboarding, diversity and inclusion, rewards and benefit benchmarking, and workforce development and planning.

Mercia invested in the business using funds from the North West Fund for Venture Capital. Will Clark of Mercia, who made the original investment in 2013, said: “This deal marks the culmination of a ten-year partnership between Horsefly and Mercia. In recent years the business has been expanding rapidly and made significant inroads into the US market. Moving forward, LDC’s support will enable Will and the team to further strengthen its footprint in the US and take the business to the next level.”

Shareholders were advised by Grant Thornton (corporate finance) and Slater Heelis (legal). Brabners provided legal advice to the North West Fund for Venture Capital.

LDC was advised by PwC (financial and tax due diligence), Squire Patton Boggs (legal) and Teneo (commercial due diligence).