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Offices are busier now than they’ve been at any point since Covid first sent employees home in March 2020. But companies are still in the thick of adapting to a more distributed workforce, creating an opportunity for workplace technology companies like Condeco and iOffice + SpaceIQ.

The two companies are merging to create Eptura, Thoma Bravo will announce Tuesday. The deal provides the new company with greater scale to compete in a highly fragmented market, which is estimated to be worth about $25 billion.

Private equity firms Thoma Bravo and JMI Equity had previously invested in Condeco, a leading provider of workspace scheduling software, and iOffice + SpaceIQ, a global workplace and asset management company, and will remain Eptura’s primary investors. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Long before the pandemic, the shift to a more distributed workforce was already underway, Thoma Bravo senior partner A.J. Rohde said in an interview with CNBC.

“People don’t talk about that a lot … but that was happening before Covid,” Rohde said. “Covid put it into hyperdrive.”

In the early days of the pandemic, Thoma Bravo’s interest in office-centric software was a bit of a contrarian view, Rohde said, because many people felt workers wouldn’t be back in the office for a long time. However, Rohde expected that a hybrid model would emerge and companies would need to manage the ebb and flow of workers into company facilities.

“We felt that remote work … or more importantly, that hybrid work was here forever, and that backing the best vendor in the market to consolidate that market was actually a really positive thesis,” he said.

In recent months, a number of large employers have been pushing to bring office workers back. After Labor Day, there was a bump up in office occupancy, according to data from Kastle Systems, a security management firm that monitors access swipes at the 2,600 buildings in its network. Based on its 10-city average, occupancy rates held steady around 47% in two weeks ended Sept. 21. That’s up from 43.8% at the end of August.

Kastle said the number of workers entering offices varies from day to day, with midweek seeing the greatest attendance. Last week, the index hit 54.8% — its highest daily occupancy rate since the pandemic began.

“When an employer gets their employees back into the office, they have to have an environment that’s creating a need for those employees to come back. So they’re looking for software and technology to make that experience a collaborative experience,” said Brandon Holden, chief executive of iOffice + SpaceIQ, who will be named CEO of Eptura.

Brandon Holden, CEO Eptura
Source: Eptura

Paul Statham, founder and CEO of Condeco, will join Eptura’s board and will continue working with Thoma Bravo. The combined company will be based in Atlanta, and employ more than 1,000 worldwide and serve 16,000 companies including Slack, Zoom, Nasdaq and Johnson & Johnson.

The formation of Eptura is the latest step in a process that began more than a year ago, Rohde said. In August 2021, iOffice and SpaceIQ merged and now Condeco’s capabilites are being added to the mix.

“This is not your garden-variety, plain-vanilla private equity deal in software. This is a lot of market work, a lot of belief in a market,” Rohde said.

“The companies were all good products but subscale,” he said. “Now, the company is very big. … The companies were maybe slightly more regionalized, and maybe more … one-solution focused, now we have a platform.”

A.J. Rohde, a Senior Partner at Thoma Bravo
Source: Eptura

That scale will be useful. In a research note Monday, Morgan Stanley analyst Josh Baer said he expects the “future of work” is an important theme for software vendors as the size of the market could double over the next five years. But companies will need to stand out in an increasingly crowded environment.

“The competitive landscape addressing the market has intensified,” Baer wrote.