Sonar6 in multimillion dollar US buyout

It's all go this month at Auckland-based Sonar6, where they're finalising a US$14 million deal with a Californian buyer.

It's all go this month at Auckland-based Sonar6, where they're finalising a US$14 million deal with a Californian buyer.

Mike Carden - Sonar6Cornerstone OnDemand, which is based in Santa Monica and provides SaaS solutions for recruiting and and education across 179 countries in 31 languages, is acquiring privately-owned Sonar6 and expects to close the deal within a month.

Sonar6, which made the Deloitte Technology Fast 50 in 2010, has provided online performance review and succession planning software to companies around the world since chief executive Mike Carden launched the business in 2004.

Products will remain separate although Sonar6’s cloud-based talent management solution will be rebranded as a Cornerstone product specifically for small businesses.

It's all part of a Cornerstone strategy to penetrate the small business market – Sonar6 will bring more than 350 international clients to the deal.

Combined, they’ll have more than 1,000 customers and nearly 8 million users.

"We've been acquired to stay intact; we've been acquired to form their SMB function," Carden said. "That means we'll continue the way we have been."

Cornerstone, which went public last year, will continue to operate Sonar6 in Auckland, and employees are expected to remain in their current roles. Carden will become VP of small business operations, co-founder Mark Hellier will continue his role driving innovation as head of product, and Pete Weaver will remain as head of retention.

Carden said reports that the deal was worth $14 million were "relatively accurate". 

HR software may not be the sexiest of industries, but luckily enough, he says, it's a space that "became super hot". 

According to Carden, Sonar6 hadn't been seeking a buyer – it had actually been looking to raise capital – and the deal was a few months in the making.

While Sonar6 has received plenty of overtures from competing vendors about a buyout in the past, he says none of those deals ever really made sense.

But Cornerstone and Sonar6 shared a vision for empowering employees and creating an engaged workforce, he said.

Carden said Sonar6 had always been "really ambitious" and could now set bigger goals, like reaching millions of users rather than merely hundreds of thousands.

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