Success with cyber security
These days we often hear about state-financed hackers breaking into systems to steal sensitive data or to exert influence, banks coming under attack and vitally important infrastructure being taken down or manipulated. There are countless examples and hypothetical horror scenarios, and it is becoming increasingly clear that effective data security services are essential if we are to continue to have a functioning and trust-based society.
One of the first
Tønnes Ingebrigtsen was one of the first to see that data security would become an important niche in the IT market. And, after working in the area for ten years, he and a few of his colleagues set up Mnemonic, a business that in its first full year of operation generated revenue of NOK 50 million – and made a profit.
“Since then, we have been both profitable and self-financing”, he explains in an interview in Norwegian with Ferd Magazine. Tønnes Ingebrigtsen is still the CEO and driving force behind what has grown into one of Europe’s largest and most technologically advanced cyber-security companies.
A financial partner
Accordingly, Mnemonic’s decision last year to consider its options in terms of setting up a collaboration with a financial partner was not because of poor finances.
“There were two items on my agenda: the first was to preserve the company’s independence, to ensure it had sufficient financial strength to resist takeover attempts from large IT companies. The second was to ensure that the company’s employees would continue to have a significant ownership interest, while at the same time a number of long-serving employees wanted to sell their shares. Finding a good solution to these issues was partially about doing the right thing and partially about ensuring that employees would continue to feel part of the company. At Mnemonic there are a lot of people who have unique expertise and who are very attractive to our competitors”, explains Tønnes Ingebrigtsen.
Best capital team
Once Mnemonic began investigating the market, Ferd quickly stood out as the absolute best capital team to bring on board as a part-owner of the company.
“From our perspective, IT is a particularly interesting area for investment and is one that we follow closely. And we had noted that cyber security is one of the most interesting areas, and Mnemonic in particular. So really it is most accurate to say that we found each other”, explains Fredrik Bjørland, Senior Investment Manager at Ferd Capital.
In September, and after an extensive analysis and negotiation process, Ferd and Mnemonic were able to announce that a partnership agreement was in place, with Ferd as the largest single owner with 40% of the share capital, while the majority of the shares will continue to be owned by Tønnes Ingebrigtsen and the company’s employees, as has been the case for the past 18 years. The transaction does not involve any change to the company’s operations or management.
“The thinking is that Ferd will contribute its commercial expertise, network and capital, while Mnemonic will be an important partner to Ferd companies at which data security is of critical importance. Furthermore, I think Ferd Capital will be able to play an important role in continuing Mnemonic’s international expansion. We have considerable experience in this area”, explains Fredrik Bjørland, who adds that Mnemonic is already the largest company in the IT and information security area in Norway, possibly in the Nordic region as well.
“There are probably only a couple of companies in Europe that provide services of the same quality as those offered by Mnemonic, and the highly respected international analysis company Gartner ranked Mnemonic in one of its reports as the top provider in its area in Europe”, he emphasises.
“With the solid platform we have built, and with Ferd’s backing, we have a realistic chance of making inroads into the international market as well. We have a large potential market in that essentially all businesses need somebody like us”, adds Tønnes Ingebrigtsen.
Photo: Charlotte Sverdrup