Vista Equity Laying Groundwork to Move Three San Diego Companies

Vista Equity Partners, the private equity firm that spent $2.8 billion this year acquiring San Diego’s Active Network, Websense, and Omnitracs, intends to move all three companies to Texas, according to a source in senior management who is familiar with the plans.

The relocation would be completed in 2014, affecting a total of up to 1,700 San Diego-based employees at all three companies.

“The wheels are in motion,” said the source, who would only speak anonymously about Vista Equity’s plans. “They don’t like California because of the tax structure. They like to hire young, aggressive, incredible talent on the cheap, and get them in there to drive up the earnings or cash flow. They basically take out the costs, increase the cash flow, get the debt down, and look for a sale.”

Vista Equity did not respond this week to requests for comment that were left Tuesday by phone and through the firm’s website. Vista Equity is based in San Francisco, and has offices in Chicago and Austin, TX.

In response to a request for comment, Kristin Carroll, marketing vice president for the Active Network, wrote in an e-mail late Wednesday, “As you’re aware, the acquisition by Vista is very recent and we have not finalized any of our 2014 plans.”

Omnitracs CEO John Graham declined to comment in a brief phone call, referring the query to Vista Equity. A spokeswoman for Websense did not immediately respond to a query by phone and e-mail late Wednesday.

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Bruce V. Bigelow was the editor of Xconomy San Diego from 2008 to 2018. Read more about his life and work here. Follow @bvbigelow

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32 responses to “Vista Equity Laying Groundwork to Move Three San Diego Companies”

  1. ALBsharah says:

    That’ll be a huge shame if they clear out these great companies from our ecosystem. The positive is that there will be great opportunities for new employees, but that’s a very short-term view of the situation. The startup community in San Diego can only continue to thrive if successful companies continue to grow here and actively give back to that ecosystem. I really hope this doesn’t happen.

  2. KristinJ89 says:

    bastards

  3. EngineUSA says:

    Vista has already started replacing San Diego, Cali jobs with cheap China labor, so the move to Texas is just icing on top of it all. This another good example of why the US economy will continue to deteriorate; white collar and technical jobs are being exported.

  4. empirenine says:

    I worked at Active for 5 years and know a lot of talented people that still work there today. So while its an undesirable roadmap for Active, the upside is that there will be an injection of tech talent in San Diego in the near future.

  5. RC says:

    this is hearsay. wait till things pan out.

  6. Concerned Employee says:

    I am curious to hear Vista’s response to this. Then again we will never get a straight story until it happens.

  7. Former Websense employee says:

    Oh Websense is moving, the CEO told the entire company during the last all hands a few weeks ago along with a huge picture of Austin in the background and all the “great ” companies that call Austin home. Furthermore they already have the building, it is 10 minutes from Austin next to a big man made lake in a corporate park…Google Earth not hard to spot with just that info.

  8. swalsh55 says:

    I wrote code at Active until 2012 and honestly the acquisition spree they went on after going public put them in a huge technical hole they still haven’t climbed out of. A local startup with clean apps could certainly make a decent run at displacing them in the San Diego area by taking advantage of local relationships and the far higher flexibility of a smaller company.

    Just don’t lease the most expensive office space in SD (La Jolla & then the top of the hill in Sorrento Valley, seriously guys?), and then grow from there. Just don’t sell out and go public to avoid a repeat performance. I think most people would be boggled at how easy it really is to do what most of these companies do.

  9. I agree with Al on the employee front, those startups and fast growing companies in San Diego seeking talented tech and middle management may have a mini-gold rush soon enough….

  10. Current Websense Employee says:

    Hopefully yesterday’s board meeting produced some answers that will soon be communicated to us.

  11. James says:

    Stay classy San Diego…

  12. Worried says:

    Websense layoffs are starting.

    • worried as well says:

      how many people are being let go? any idea?

    • Didi says:

      Keep us up to date because I work for Active Network and I’m very concerned that they will be laying us off in October…

      • Christo says:

        Yes current employee would like to know…. but the transparency management speaks of at Active is 0% visibility. Any news of the Texas move in 2014? Is this 100%?

  13. Am I next? says:

    Websense is paying people off today.

  14. Current Active employee says:

    We’ll have a all staff meeting with the CEO next week. Hopefully we will have a better picture of what is going on. I don’t want to move to Texas. Has anyone seen the Websense or Active building in Austin?

  15. StuTheDog says:

    I’m also an Active employee and can attest that we have a ton of top heavy administrators, we can lose 1/2 of them tmro without missing a beat. I like this move, gonna be an interesting year.

  16. GKSanDiego says:

    I won’t be buying anything from those companies including Websense who I’ve purchased from in the past. Moving to TX will kill the innovation all have brought to the market.

    Beyond that, Vista Equity is simply going to pump up their book value, load them up with debt, dump the companies and people and move on to their next corporate victims.

  17. exactive says:

    Well they did get rid of the CFO of Active a few weeks ago with no warning.

  18. Employee2 says:

    In a preliminary report, Websense projected it would hire 23 executives – 50 percent local hires – at an average wage of $250,000. The company is also eyeing 48 mangers at $150,000 annually with 75 percent hired locally, 92 supervisors at $95,000 annually with 80 percent hired locally, 123 staff at $70,000 annually with 80 percent hired locally and 184 entry level workers at $45,000 with 85 percent hired locally. http://www.bizjournals.com/austin/blog/at-the-watercooler/2014/02/behind-the-scenes-how-websenses-proposed-austin.html

  19. Current Active member says:

    First round of layoff at Active started yesterday. A 100 positions elimitated. For most of the positions elimated a new position opens at Texas.

  20. Nicole says:

    We’re hiring ! Talented designers, developers, software engineers, finance executives…adboomgrp.com! check us out

  21. rocker says:

    I interviewed last year at Active and did really well. I am glad I did not take that position. I moved from Texas to be in San Diego and now this happens. Phew!!! sometimes things happen for a reason. Some really smart people there , so I do feel sorry for them. If they do decide to move then they will looking for new jobs in Texas within a year. Beware of Texas …its just different and yes enjoy the summer its lovely ;-)

  22. Lisa says:

    What happened to the stockholders? Some have disappeared over the years as former employees. Who brokered the sale?