Building a Leader in Flight Planning Software

Background

In 2013 the Silver Lake Sumeru team was introduced to ForeFlight, a Texas-based provider of flight planning and navigation software for pilots, flight operations, government, military, and airlines. ForeFlight was the first company to offer iPhone® and iPad® solutions for pilots, and its disruptive technology drove a migration in the cockpit from paper charts and maps to an all-digital solution that has been credited with improving the efficiency and safety of flight operations. Offered as a mobile and SaaS solution, ForeFlight’s products lead the industry in ease-of-use, elegant design, and market-leading features.

The business was growing and successful and yet the founders believed they could accelerate their strategic plan. They sought an experienced partner who could help build a world class company, create and preserve value, and help introduce new products, expand geographically, and complete strategic acquisitions. Recognizing the value in ForeFlight’s team, market leadership and highly regarded products, in 2014 Silver Lake Sumeru invested in the company, providing capital to execute their plan. As the first outside investor in a founder-led business, we created a strong partnership with the founders and key employees who remained in their roles and have been central to the company’s success.

Value Creation

Working with the founders and the executive team, we created a detailed plan to build an enterprise sales function, introduce new products, expand internationally and pursue complementary acquisitions. Key elements of this plan included:

  • Enhancing the organization through key hires to support growth
  • Building an enterprise sales capability to support expansion in the business, government and airline markets
  • Expanding the product line beyond charts and flight planning
  • Developing core technologies and a portfolio of intellectual property
  • Entering new markets outside of North America
  • Acquiring complementary products, know-how, technologies and geographic reach

Results

Since our investment, ForeFlight has tripled investment in research and development, introduced a range of new products addressing general aviation, business, military and airline customers, completed multiple acquisitions and established a significant presence in Europe. During this time, sales have increased significantly while the Company has maintained strong profitability and cash flow.

“I’ve had the opportunity to work with many professionals over the years as both an entrepreneur and an investor. The professionals we worked with at Sumeru are unlike any I’ve worked with before. They are wise, patient, collaborative, insightful, reasonable, and impressively supportive. I would look forward to working with them again in the future, knowing that in the end their highly professional team will help to ensure that value is both created and preserved.”

Tyson Weihs, Co-Founder and CEO