A German investment firm has acquired a majority stake in Cleverbridge, an e-commerce software company founded by University of Illinois alum Craig Vodnik.
EMH Partners, a private-equity company based in Germany, has agreed to buy a 65 percent stake in the company, which sells e-commerce billing software. Most of Cleverbridge’s employees are split between Cologne, Germany, and Chicago—where Vodnik, its CEO, is based. Terms of the deal were not disclosed, though Vodnik and his co-founders will remain with the firm.
The company has 300 employees, including about 100 in Chicago. Vodnik says Cleverbridge will hire another 10 to 20 people in Chicago this year.
The business is expanding from consumer-focused e-commerce into business-to-business, a transition fueled by the COVID-19 pandemic. “A lot of customers had a consumer side and a division that also did B2B,” Vodnik said. “As consumers became comfortable buying direct. businesses needed to make it easier to buy and renew in a self-service way.”
Cleverbridge, founded in 2005, has long been profitable. But the new investment will help the company grow more quickly, providing capital for acquisitions., Vodnik said.