• Investment firm Integral Venture Partners , just announced that an Integral-led investment consortium has entered into a definitive agreement with Bulgarian IT company Sirma Group, to acquire its subsidiary Ontotext for more than €30 million.
• Ontotext is a deeptech, enterprise software business operating in the graph database space.
• Following the investment, Integral and its partners will become the majority shareholder of Ontotext, with a 76% stake, and support the company to accelerate international expansion, particularly in the US.
Integral manages institutional private equity and growth capital, with a focus on Central and Eastern Europe, and backing from leading international institutional investors such as EIF, the EBRD, and the IFC. The company operates from London, Belgrade, and Budapest.
“We’ve been working on this transaction for more than a year. Ontotext is a unique B2B software business that has gained traction in the last three-four years, after being around for many years,” Evtim Chesnovski, Partner at Integral Venture Partners, shares with The Recursive.
He then goes to add that with this transaction, the company has reached several main milestones. It is one of the largest tech deals in Bulgaria in 2022, behind only Payhawk and potentially some of the undisclosed deals. It’s also among the largest corporate divestitures in the tech space in the region, and is led by a private equity firm, which hasn’t happened in the region for a while.
The investment consortium led by Integral includes also PortfoLion Capital Partners, the VC and PE arm of OTP Bank, and Carpathian Partners, a London-based specialized technology investment platform. Expected to finalize by August, the deal will be structured as a combination of a capital increase and a secondary share purchase.
Ontotext’s solution and what comes next
Ontotext is an enterprise software and semantic technology company, offering a database engine for knowledge graphs, and a platform for text and data analytics. Let’s unpack that first.
Semantic technology allows machines to understand data by analyzing its contextual meaning, identifying relationships within data sets, and categorization. Ontotext is best known for its GraphDB solution, a graph database and knowledge discovery tool compliant with semantic web standards. This is used by researchers to link diverse data, index it or semantic search, and enrich it via tech analysis to build knowledge graphs.
More broadly, the company is positioned in the AI technologies market, with market applications such as knowledge graphs, natural language processing, and semantic graph databases.
Asked how they decided to invest in the company, Evtim Chesnovski further explains: “We first discovered and eyed the company. We then saw that it is in a niche market, probably a bit underinvested under a corporate umbrella. We started with a diligent analysis – we worked hard to find the right people who could give us a sound understanding of the market. It’s a fast-growing market niche, at 20-25 percent per annum.”
Ontotext already serves an international blue-chip corporate clientele in Europe and the US. With the new funding, Ontotext aims to accelerate its international expansion and go-to-market, with a focus on the US market.
“I think this deal comes at the right time, in order to fund and support the business growth. Most of its competitors are in the US and have funding rounds of several hundred million dollars. With this transaction, we aim to help the company accelerate its expansion through a US-based sales team,” Evtim Chesnovski tells The Recursive.
“The investment will allow us to create a serious sales team in North America, where we currently have the largest market, although we do not have employees there “, Atanas Kiryakov, founder and CEO of Ontotext, told Digitalk.bg.
The company also plans to accelerate the development of its products by strengthening its R&D offices in Bulgaria. One focus area of development will be the vertical product portfolio. The current setup, whereby each individual client requires the planning and building of a solution that integrates different components and tools, slows down the sales process. As such, Ontotext plans to invest more actively in solutions for end customers across key verticals such as healthcare, biotechnology, and financial services, Atanas Kiryakov added.