US giant Intuit has agreed to buy a software company founded by two Tauranga brothers for more than $100 million.
The transaction is expected to close next month.
Cameron and Bradley Priest founded TradeGecko, which makes inventory and order management software for small businesses, in Singapore in 2012, along with another Kiwi, Auckland web developer Carl Thompson.
Each were just a few years out of Canterbury University, where Cameron studied commerce and marketing and Bradley psychology.
Thompson, who left and moved back to NZ in 2014 - but retained a stake - told the Herald, "The whole concept spawned from me running a fashion label, Crowded Elevator. There was no simple solution to manage orders and stock.
"Everyone just used Netsuite or Excel. So we wanted to make the Shopify of inventory management."
"I had been trying to build businesses in Auckland for a few years, was inspired by the likes of Xero and VendHQ," Cameron Priest told the Herald overnight.
"However we were unable to raise money - I was in my early 20s, I doubt I would've given me money either - but we always had the ambitions to build a global company serving SMBs, it's who we are and what we love."
In Singapore, TradeGecko raised more than US$20m from investors including a trio of the city state's private equity players: Wavemaker Partners, Openspace Ventures and Jungle Ventures.
No sale price was disclosed.
Bloomberg, quoting "people familiar with the matter", said Intuit will pay more than US$80m ($113m) for TradeGecko, making it one of Singapore's biggest exits since Covid-19.
Cameron Priest said he could not comment on the exact sale price, citing confidentiality clauses, but did offer that it was "comfortably in the nine figures in NZ dollars."
He would not comment on the size of the founders' stake at the time of the sale to Intuit.
It was a good time to sell. While the pandemic has taken a toll on High Street, it has pumped up the value of companies involved with online retail.
Today, Cameron Priest is chief executive of TradeGecko and Bradley Priest chief technology officer.
Both will join Intuit. Neither has commented on their tenure, but it is common for founders to stay on for a 12-month earn-out period - during which they seek to hit financial targets to gain the full sale-price or bonuses.
Great story, well done lads, everyone who contributed to this quote: "However we were unable to raise money" hang your head in shame. Again.— paulbrislen (@paulbrislen) August 5, 2020
Repeat after me, NZ can actually grow tech companies if given the chance. https://t.co/kPhE9hGSxp
In a May 2018 profile ahead of a then-mooted IPO, TradeGecko said it had revenue of US$7m, which it hoped to double to US$14m in 2019. It anticipated breaking into the black next year.
Although the privately held company hasn't released any financials, it seems the e-commerce boom - which has been amplified by the pandemic - accelerated its push into profit.
"We have built a profitable business serving thousands of omnichannel commerce customers in over 100 countries processing over US$5 billion in GMV [gross merchandise value]," Cameron Priest said overnight.
"In 2020, our customers around the globe have seen their businesses transform as the world moves online."
Intuit plans to integrate TradeGecko with its QuickBooks accounting software, which has around seven million customers worldwide.
The company's Nasdaq-listed stock was up 0.17 per cent to US$311.23 today, giving it a market cap of US$81 billion.
TradeGecko currently integrates with software made by Intuit rival Xero. Pundits will be watching to see if that arrangement survives the deal.
Thompson says he still regularly catches up with the Priests.
And he notes that his very first job was as a website manager for then Intuit distributor Quicken NZ, back in 2004.
"So it's come full circle for me."