Through a share buyback operation between existing shareholders, the Walloon digital nugget has become a unicorn and has reached a valuation of 2.2 billion euros. Back to “the” big new tech of the summer.
“Finally, I can tell my children that I work for a unicorn”, replies, amused, Fabien Pinckaers when asked what the new valuation of his firm Odoo changes. Indeed, the news fell at the very beginning of this month of August: the Walloon scale-up specialist in business management software reached a valuation of 2.2 billion euros. Twice what it takes to be part of the “unicorns”, these young unlisted tech companies that investors value at least a billion. For months, even years, observers have been waiting for this French-speaking nugget to enter this very closed club of “unicorns”, while Collibra, the Flemish firm of Felix Van de Maele, gave it priority during a fundraising of 100 million euros from Capital G, one of Google’s financial arms.
“Finally, I can tell my children that I work for a unicorn”, replies, amused, Fabien Pinckaers when asked what the new valuation of his firm Odoo changes. Indeed, the news fell at the very beginning of this month of August: the Walloon scale-up specialist in business management software reached a valuation of 2.2 billion euros. Twice what it takes to be part of the “unicorns”, these young unlisted tech companies that investors value at least a billion. For months, even years, observers have been waiting for this French-speaking nugget to enter this very closed club of “unicorns”, while Collibra, the Flemish firm of Felix Van de Maele, gave it priority during a fundraising of 100 million euros from Capital G, one of Google’s financial arms. Except that as far as Odoo is concerned, the situation is quite different: the valuation at 2.2 billion euros comes not within the framework of a fundraiser, but on the occasion of a buyback operation. actions between historical shareholders. Xange and Sofinnova have indeed decided to sell their stake in the company (part for Sofinnova) to the American fund Summit Partners, which wanted to get a little more on board Odoo. It is in this context that a new calculation of the value of the Walloon nugget was carried out. And he was surprising! “I fell off my chair when I learned the total amount of Odoo’s valuation,” a very savvy observer of the company admits, euphorically. It is that barely 18 months ago, the entry of the same Summit Partners with the repurchase for more than 80 million euros of existing shares had been carried out “at a value of 385 million euros”, specifies Fabien Pinckaers, when it had been estimated at 400 million by observers. Not even half a unicorn! What happened for Odoo to see its value increase by more than five times? “The buyer, Summit Partners, which already had a stake in Odoo, has gained strong confidence in the company, analyzes Fabien Pinckaers. In particular because they have seen us execute our strategy from month to month. And we have each times delivered more than promised.” The company indeed claims a phenomenal growth: + 70% of the invoicing compared to last year. Not to mention the particularly buoyant global context for digital companies, Odoo in the lead. First, the health crisis played the accelerator effect of digital tools for businesses. Quite the niche of the Walloon scale-up which offers, mainly to SMEs, a multitude of digital tools (ERP, CRM, creation of websites, etc.) to manage the different facets of their business. Then, in times of crisis, many SMEs take steps to reduce costs. However, Odoo offers a whole series of free solutions. And its paid solutions are priced well below the prices of the large companies that the scale-up competition (SAP, Oracle, Microsoft, Salesforce, etc.). It would therefore attract, according to its CEO, many new users. Today, Odoo puts forward the figure of 7 million users worldwide (including free users), i.e. 500,000 more than what Fabien Pinckaers announced at the start of the year, when receiving his prize. of Manager of the Year. In short, growth seems to be on the agenda and its turnover should increase from some 100 million euros for the year 2020 to 160 million in 2021… With its 1,700 employees (840 in Belgium), Odoo does everything gently figure of “mastodon” on the Belgian scale. However, the adventure seems far from over. “We remain a little thumb against our competitors, underlines the founder. But this new unicorn status will continue to give us credibility. It does not change the situation financially since the announced operation does not include any injection of money into the company. But apart from the pride for the teams – which is very important – reaching such a valuation should allow us to obtain some recognition from the market. So far, against the giants competition, we remain the last entrant. But we show that Odoo is no longer a risky small business.” Moreover, this gigantic valuation for a young Belgian company (Odoo is still not 20 years old) is coupled with an astonishing capitalistic success. Indeed, in its history, Odoo has only raised barely more than 10 million euros… twice, at very specific times when the firm needed money. Result: the founding CEO managed not to dilute himself too much and would now retain 54% of his company! Part of the management also has shares, as do Summit Partners (between 20 and 25%), SRIW and Noshaq. For SRIW, the investment in Odoo is a great success. The public fund had indeed invested 2 million euros in 2015 and reinjected 10 million in 2019. Today, while retaining 10% of Odoo (8.1% for SRIW and 2.2% for Noshaq), the Walloon public duo has already generated 25 million euros and has a huge latent capital gain, even if “the goal is not to sell”, tempers Damien Lourtie, the financial director of SRIW and member of the board from Odoo. “We are also keeping in mind the impact of Odoo on the digital ecosystem and the jobs it generates in Wallonia,” he adds. Because beyond the 840 Belgian employees, Odoo has also created a large ecosystem of partner companies that resell Odoo software, carry out integration and offer various services around the solutions marketed. And that, it seems, is still just the beginning.