Francisco Partners acquires Follett School Solutions

Follett Corporation has sold Follett School Solutions (FSS), the company’s K-12 software and content division, to Francisco Partners, a technology-focused global investment firm.

Follett School Solutions, based in McHenry, Illinois, is a longtime trusted educational partner to K-12 schools and districts that provides software and content products, including Follett Destiny, FSS’ market-leading library management system with installations in more than 75,000 K-12 schools worldwide. FSS will join Francisco Partners’ growing portfolio of K-12 education-focused businesses and technologies, including Renaissance Learning, Discovery Education, Freckle, myON and Mystery Science.
 
“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,” says Todd Litzsinger, CEO and Chairman of the Board, Follett Corporation. “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.”
 
“FSS has amassed an impressive customer base over its long and accomplished history,” says Jason Brein, Partner at Francisco Partners. “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’ market leading software and content solutions.”
 
“While we have different owners, Follett will remain a household name for many more generations of school librarians, teachers, administrators and students,” says Britten Follett, a fifth-generation family member who assumes the title of CEO of FSS Content. “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.”
 
Paul Ilse, who most recently served as CEO of Discovery Education, a Francisco Partners’ portfolio company, will become CEO of FSS Software. “We see significant opportunity for rapid growth and continued success,” says Ilse. “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 K-12 team members will transfer with the sale to Francisco Partners.
 
Terms of the deal were not announced. Morgan Stanley & Co served as sole financial advisor to Follett Corporation.
 
Follett Corporation continues to own and operate Follett Higher Education Group, the largest operator of college stores and a leading online retailer of campus-related products, and Baker & Taylor, a leading content and technology provider to public libraries.

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