Websense acquired by Texas-based private equity firm

Austin based Vista Equity Partners has announced its intention to acquire Web content-filtering vendor Websense for about $1 billion. Upon closing Websense will become a private company. This follows the end-of-2011 acquisition of Websense’s primary enterprise competitor in the content filtering space, Blue Coat, by private equity firm Thomas Bravo. In last year’s security study Websense was the primary provider to 22% of respondents and Blue Coat had captured 27%.


Web content filtering continues to be an important security technology. It is a good solution to both compliance and human resource issues around objectionable web content, whether it is blocking external third-party email access at financial firms, filtering pornographic content from corporate PCs, or blocking known sites with security issues. That said other solutions including next generation firewalls are entering as competitors in the traditional web content filtering space, providing the capability in a perimeter device alongside other features. Some 30% of Websense customers that rated them noted they were ‘definitely’ considering a switch off of Websense’s platform.

Respondents had the following to say about Websense in the previous study:

  • “We invested heavily in defining our URL policy. We will lose protocol compliance if we decide to make the move. The product is mature and they own the URL landscape at the moment. They are truly the leader in this spot. Their change request cycle is lengthy. It takes more time than we are comfortable when something has been identified.” – LE, Financial Services
  • “Once the product is installed, it has proven to be reliable. It is a monster to install. They have done a lot to redeem themselves, but it was a horrible two years to get there.” – LE, Healthcare/Pharmaceuticals
  • “The product is easy to manage. Detail and logs are excellent. On the downside, it is not the most reliable in regards to getting user identification. If you throw too much traffic at it, it will fall down.” – LE, Telecom/Technology

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About the Author

Daniel Kennedy, a former Wall Street CISO and security consultant, is the Research Director for Information Security and Networking for 451 Research's Customer Insight product, where he is responsible for managing all phases of the research process for those two coverage areas.