Follett Corporation has sold Follett School Solutions (FSS), its K12 software and content division, to Francisco Partners, a technology-focused global investment firm.

Follett School Solutions, based in McHenry, Illinois, provides software and content products to K12 schools and districts, which includes Follett Destiny, FSS’s library management system which is installed in more than 75,000 K12 schools worldwide.

Follett Corporation’s chairman and chief executive Todd Litzsinger said: “FSS has played a pivotal leadership role in the development of content and technology solutions for schools everywhere, and as a result of this transition to Francisco Partners, we expect the business to significantly expand its reach across education. On behalf of the Follett family and shareholders, I would like to thank the FSS employees, publishing partners, librarians, teachers, schools and school districts for the long and rich partnership we have enjoyed. Our family-owned company has long and deep ties to this business and a strong interest in its ongoing success, which is why we are pleased Francisco Partners will be leading and growing FSS in the years to come.”

Britten Follett, a fifth-generation family member who becomes chief executive of FSS Content, said: “While we have different owners, Follett will remain a household name for many more generations of school librarians, teachers, administrators and students. And our purpose and reason for being remain the same: We are here to improve the world by inspiring learning and shaping education – with more focus on that goal than ever.”

Jason Brein, partner at Francisco Partners, added: “FSS has amassed an impressive customer base over its long and accomplished history. We thank the Follett family for their trust in us, and we look forward to working with Britten Follett and her team to accelerate this investment in FSS’s market leading software and content solutions.”

Paul Ilse, who was recently chief executive of Discovery Education, a Francisco Partners portfolio company, will become chief executive of FSS Software. He said: “We see significant opportunity for rapid growth and continued success. Britten and I will work together to ensure that our software user experience takes full advantage of our content ecosystem.”

FSS will continue to operate from its headquarters in McHenry, and all K12 employees will transfer with the sale to Francisco Partners.

Terms of the deal were not announced. Morgan Stanley & Co was sole financial advisor to Follett Corporation.

Francisco Partners’ portfolio of K12 education-focused businesses and technologies, include Renaissance Learning, Discovery Education, Freckle, myON and Mystery Science.

Date published: 8 September 2021

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