Private equity firm to buy Carmel-based Orchard Software, fund growth

One of central Indiana’s largest software development firms has agreed to be acquired by a San Francisco-based private equity firm as it rolls out new web-based products.

Francisco Partners announced Monday that it intends to buy Carmel-based Orchard Software Corp., which specializes in software for laboratory systems used by hospitals, clinics, veterinary labs, student health centers and public health organizations.

Founded in 1993, Orchard has grown to become the seventh-largest software development firm in the Indianapolis area, according to IBJ research. It has 275 employees—210 of which work out of the Carmel headquarters at 701 Congressional Blvd.

It posted $40 million in revenue in 2018, founder and CEO Rob Bush told IBJ. Terms of the deal, which is expected to close Oct. 31, were not disclosed.

Orchard’s operations will remain in Carmel, and no layoffs are planned, Bush said. Francisco Partners’ role is to provide capital and expertise to help the firm roll out web products in an industry that has been slow to adopt cloud-based software.

“We needed a strong partner to drive that,” Bush said. “Francisco’s plans are to grow the company.”

Given the big technological step Orchard is taking, Bush has chosen to step down as CEO at the age of 62.

Tech executive Billie Whitehurst will take over the CEO role. Her most recent position was vice president of Overland Park, Kansas-based Netsmart, which develops and sells health information technology.

Francisco Partners specializes in investments in technology-based businesses. Since its launch in 1999, it has invested in more than 200 firms.

Orchard’s founders also include Rob Bush’s father, Ben, who provided startup capital for the business.

“That was the bank of mom and dad,” Rob Bush recalled.

The Bush family—including Rob’s wife, Debra—owns 59 percent of the firm, with the majority of the balance held by the South Bend-based Oliver Estate Inc., which invested in the firm two decades ago.

As a part of the Francisco deal, Rob Bush will have a minority interest in Orchard. Bush also is the president of the Carmel Redevelopment Authority.

Please enable JavaScript to view this content.

Editor's note: IBJ is now using a new comment system. Your Disqus account will no longer work on the IBJ site. Instead, you can leave a comment on stories by signing in to your IBJ account. If you have not registered, please sign up for a free account now. Past comments are not currently showing up on stories, but they will be added in the coming weeks. Please note our updated comment policy that will govern how comments are moderated.

One thought on “Private equity firm to buy Carmel-based Orchard Software, fund growth