In one hour’s time* Workshare, a leading provider of document collaboration software, will announce to the world that it has joined forces with SkyDox, a provider of cloud-enabled file sharing, synchronization and collaboration tools. The combination is supported by growth capital investment from a UK investor group led by Scottish Equity Partners (SEP) and includes Business Growth Fund (BGF).

By combining their respective capabilities – the announcement says – they will provide existing and future customers with a unique platform for policy-based, cloud-enabled file sharing and enterprise collaboration. Mobile working, Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), Big Data and the cloud have created a demand for Web 2.0 applications that provide today’s knowledge workers with the features and functionality they expect while also addressing enterprise IP and data security requirements.

This combination will allow Workshare to integrate its best-of-breed, policy-based document comparison and metadata removal application with SkyDox’s scalable, highly secure, cloud-enabled file sharing and collaboration platform. The combined organization will enable its current and future customers to improve the efficiency of collaboration across organizational and geographical boundaries, while maintaining full auditability and adherence to internal and external data security and IP mandates.

The management team will be comprised of a combination of executives drawn from the two organizations. SkyDox’s CEO Anthony Foy** will be retained as CEO of the joint company. Foy has a deep, longstanding background in the software industry – building customer-centric businesses, improving share-holder value and improving customer satisfaction. Previously Foy served as the Group Managing Director at Interxion, a leading European data center and colocation services company where he was responsible for delivering 22 consecutive quarters of revenue growth which led to an IPO. Scott Smull the former CEO of Workshare will continue to work with Workshare and will have multiple key executive responsibilities as part of the Executive Integration Team and spearheading customer advocacy activities. Barrie Hadfield who originally co-founded Workshare and architected the current solution has been appointed CTO. Barrie brings with him a deep understanding of the collaboration space and is well known and respected by a large number of Workshare customers, IT sector thought leaders and the analyst community.

“Organizations are constantly looking for ways to drive operational efficiency, grow revenue and reduce costs. This combination allows Workshare to deliver a more holistic collaborative experience to our customers by blending Web 2.0 technologies with our existing award-winning solutions to provide an unmatched policy-based enterprise collaboration platform,” said Anthony Foy, CEO Workshare. “The combined company is ideally positioned to deliver unique solutions that help employees improve inter and intra company collaboration without sacrificing enterprise information security requirements.”

The integration of Workshare and SkyDox operations is expected to be completed during the second half of 2012, and support and development for Workshare and SkyDox products will continue without interruption. (Torch Partners advised SkyDox on the fundraising. Mishcon de Reya provided legal advice and legal due diligence services. PwC conducted financial due diligence and Intuitus provided IT due diligence services.)

COMMENTS:

* Sharp-eyed readers will recall seeing our prediction of this story yesterday morning. Customers were notified on the deal yesterday afternoon (see below)

** Anthony Foy should not be confused with Tony Foy of KnowHow Consulting

The new business will be called Workshare – although given the return of Barrie Hadfield to a senior role in Workshare will no doubt be greeted as the Hadfield Empire Strikes Back.

Other developments cited by the new company include:

· £20m growth equity and venture capital investment by SEP and BGF to consolidate Workshare’s market leading position
· Combined capability will expand Workshare’s existing market-leading document collaboration software by adding cloud-enabled file sharing, synchronization, storage and search
· Workshare to further enhance its long-term, successful relationships with clients by addition of SaaS delivery model
· Software integration teams working with beta customers to deliver combined application in 90 days

All-in-all it looks like a good deal for both customers and the two companies, not least as it removes any uncertainties about the longer-term future of Workshare as an independent company.

Here’s the announcement Workshare sent out to customers yesterday

Dear Valued Workshare Customers,

Today, Workshare announced it has agreed to join forces with SkyDox, an award-winning file sharing and cloud collaboration vendor where I held the position of CEO. This follows a major equity investment into SkyDox from an investor group led by Scottish Equity Partners and Business Growth Fund, two leading private equity firms specializing in investing in companies that have significant long-term potential for growth.

As part of agreement, I am delighted to have been appointed CEO of the new combined company. I am also pleased that Scott Smull will continue to work with Workshare as EVP Corporate Development and will have key executive responsibilities. He will help to execute a smooth transition as a member of the Executive Integration Team, taking on an evangelical role to our existing customers, championing the combined value proposition and spearheading our customer advocacy activities.

The balance of the management team is a strong combination of executives drawn from the two organizations. These include CTO Barrie Hadfield, who originally co-founded Workshare and architected the current solution. Barrie brings with him a deep understanding of the collaboration space and is well known and respected by a large number of Workshare customers.

We are confident you will recognize tremendous advantages in this new alliance of talented teams, market-leading services, global reach and our shared goal of helping organizations collaborate securely and efficiently across geographic and organizational boundaries. Bringing Workshare and SkyDox together will give our customers access to an enhanced portfolio of market-leading file sharing and enterprise collaboration tools along with the service and support you have come to expect from Workshare. Going forward, the combined company will deliver a robust technology platform that enables a compelling and rich collaborative experience across a wide range of devices and operating systems. The core tenets behind Workshare will remain the same: providing rich policy and comparison technology, enterprise integration, high performance and ubiquity in the legal and knowledge worker sectors. Combining the two companies will allow us to continue to lead the way in the legal sector while providing an additional set of tools, services and solutions with the depth and breadth required to meet our customers’ changing technical requirements.

Workshare products and solutions will continue to advance. The SkyDox cloud innovation and technology is a powerful combination and complement to the Workshare desktop and server products lines. Our primary focus will continue to be the satisfaction of our customers, and we are fully committed to making the transition as smooth as possible. We have exciting updates and developments planned for the coming weeks, and we look forward to sharing these advancements with you on a regular basis.