ClearObject CEO: ‘If cash is oxygen, we just strapped on a big oxygen tank’

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clear object CEO John McDonald

The CEO of Fishers-based tech firm ClearObject expects its new owners to super-charge growth with a breath of fresh air and influx of cash.

Two out-of-state private equity firms have taken a majority stake in ClearObject, the firm announced Thursday. For several years, it has ranked among the fastest-growing firms in the Indianapolis area.

“The most important thing is that we’re going to continue to be ClearObject and we’re going to continue to be in Fishers,” CEO John McDonnell told IBJ. “We found a partner that wanted to grow here. That was the entire point of it. If cash is oxygen—the element necessary to grow—we just strapped on a big oxygen tank.”

The new majority owners are New Jersey-based Egis Capital Partners and Maryland-based ABS Capital Partners. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

ClearObject describes itself as an integrator of "internet of things" systems, referring to technology that connects everyday appliances and other objects to the internet, enabling them to send and receive data.

McDonald said that ClearObject’s board decided to sell because the firm needed more capital to grow and keep up in the fast-moving IoT segment.

Founded in 2010 as CloudOne, the company now has 52 employees. With the acquisition, it will maintain its headquarters in Fishers, and McDonald will continue as CEO.

Mike Reffeitt, who previously held the role of chief business officer, has been named president and will oversee day-to-day operations.

ClearObject officials said none of the local firm’s employees will be affected in the short-term by the acquisition. In fact, the firm brought on four new employees this week, McDonald said. And it’s looking to hire designers, developers, machine-learning engineers and support staff.

Most of the previous owners were completely bought out in the transaction, McDonald said, declining to identify them. He maintains a minority ownership stake and a position on the board.

ClearObject most recently appeared on IBJ's annual list of the fastest-growing central Indiana firms in 2017. According to information provided to IBJ, ClearObject's revenue grew 216 percent between its 2014 and 2016 fiscal years, ranking it third on the list. It also appeared on the list in 2016 (ranked ninth with 171 percent revenue growth over three years) and in 2015 (fourth, 170 percent).

On Thursday, the new owners emphasized their intention to accelerate growth.

“Egis has a long track record building enterprise businesses that improve operating advantages by taking existing infrastructure and using the data derived from those assets,” E. Perot Bissell, managing partner at Egis, said in a media statement. “ClearObject is uniquely positioned to play an important role in the creation and delivery of scalable cloud-based IoT solutions.

"Based on ClearObject’s experience developing and maintaining cloud-based tools and its success creating high-value IoT products, we are confident the management team led by McDonald and Reffeitt can continue to accelerate growth. We look forward to providing the financial and strategic resources to facilitate this transformative opportunity in the data-driven economy.”

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