Four Winds Acquires UK-based Workplace Comms Software Firm SmartSpace

August 13, 2020 by Dave Haynes

Denver-based Four Winds Interactive has acquired SmartSpace Global, a UK company focused on workplace communications software.

Four Winds, which does content management software and solutions, has long made workplace a key vertical, and this gives them already developed and deployed capabilities around things like desk hoteling, meeting room management and  workspace analytics – and does so via mobile, desktop, AND digital signage devices. 

Says today’s PR:

As companies currently face extraordinary demands to protect the health and safety of their employees and visitors, this acquisition extends the value FWI delivers to make return to the office efforts easier and more efficient through automation that can power social distancing and ensure cleanliness standards are met.

With SmartSpace Global as part of its portfolio, FWI will enable customers of all sizes to clearly understand resource utilization and potentially reduce real estate costs, all while improving the experience of their employees and customers. This acquisition also expands FWI’s international presence and capabilities with offices and employees in the US, UK, Europe, and Asia to support customers through local teams with regional experience. 

“In transforming the workplace for new work styles, new health and safety standards, and focus on employee experience, room and desk booking is more important than ever before,” says David Levin, CEO and co-founder, FWI. “SmartSpace Global not only improves the employee experience, it helps organizations optimize their real estate expenses to save money. Together, we’re excited about the innovation and ROI we can bring to our combined customer base and the market at large.” 

“FWI has built an unbelievable company that we’re excited to be a part of. The strengths of our software platforms are very complementary and will allow FWI to offer new innovative space management applications to our combined base of clients,” says Keith Jump, Chief Strategy Officer of SmartSpace Global, who will be joining FWI as Head of Workplace Strategy as part of the transaction.  

It’s an interesting move. I’d imagine this is really a deal driven and bankrolled by the Austin, TX-based private equity firm that bought into FWI last year, given their pockets would be waaaaay deeper. SmartSpace also has an office in Austin, opened in 2019.

It is interesting, as well, given the shaggy future of office spaces in general. When COVID-19 either goes away or is effectively, safely controlled, that will not means millions of white collar office spaces are just going to fill back up again. Work From Home is probably permanent for many companies because it generally saves money for both employees and employers, and experience is showing that while it ain’t always perfect, it’s workable. So many, many offices of all sizes will shrink or shutter.

The valid counter-argument is that the need for effective management and communicating in the office spaces that do persist has been heightened by COVID-19. The need for workplace communications is going to persist in blue collar environments, like warehouses and production facilities, as well as in a bazillion service industry scenarios. So workplace comms is hardly a dead concept.

One  footnote to the PR says “prior to this transaction, SmartSpace Software plc was active at all levels of the market from SME to Enterprise. Following this transaction SmartSpace will focus on offering solutions to SMEs and mid-market customers.”

That could be interpreted in a few ways, but mainly suggests FWI’s sales execs will chase whale accounts while SmartSpace will focus on sales to smaller businesses.

The PR makes no mention of deal terms, so who know if this was cash, share swaps or a handshake. SmartSpace has had an operating loss the last couple of years and it shut down a couple of divisions (managed services and integration) a couple of years ago to focus on software.

Four Winds itself has been super-quiet since the deal with the PE guys. The website has been seriously revised since the last time I was on it, and the focus has been placed on two vertical scenarios: corporate and guest experience (hotels).

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