We have just completed a management buyout of Welcome, in partnership with AXA Private Equity (see the press release here). Looking at the history of Welcome since it’s founding in 1996, and considering our objectives for the next few years, I see this buyout as the closing event of the first major book of a trilogy. The themes of this first part: building the company, achieving profitability and growing beyond the startup phase. In the second part of the trilogy, we will work at consolidating our current growth of 50% per year, grounding it on solid structural elements and a powerful business model. The final book of the trilogy begins with an IPO to raise the funds to help us grow even faster as we reinforce our leadership position as the most exciting provider of high value payment software in the world.
We have added a number of shareholders over the years, starting with High Co (a publicly traded marketing agency in France, part of the WPP advertising group) followed a few years later by Gemplus, Avenir Telecom and Dassault Multimedia. Then came the financial investors, Technology Fund in Singapore, BNP Private Equity in France and Quest for Growth in Belgium. They have all remained faithful to the company over the years. They all believed in me and in Welcome, and for that I give them my deepest thanks and appreciation, even though I know that this is not nearly enough. Thank you.
Today we have one single, major shareholder, represented by a group of individuals that were able to put together a complex deal that is really very exciting for Welcome’s people. Bravo to Laurent Foata, Jean-Marc Fiamma and Arnaud Dufer of AXA Private Equity. I am excited about beginning our board work together as we start with our brand new corporate governance structure built from scratch.
The one person with whom the management buyout would not have been possible is our CEO, Sebastien Guillaud. He has proven his value to many of us over and over again, and I am sure this success is just another in a long line of accomplishments he will achieve throughout his career. My deepest thanks to you Sebastien.
My deepest appreciations as well to Philippe Vinci and Craig Bennett, both newly appointed directors to Welcome’s executive board, and to the whole team at Welcome. Every single one of you helps turn the vision into reality.
I look forward to writing the second and third parts of our trilogy with all of you. The adventure is only going to get better and more exciting.