In this file photo, Rob McCarthy stands in the Lightspeed Systems' former headquarters in downtown Bakersfield.

The prodigal son of Bakersfield’s business community has made good in its new home of Texas.

Less than three years after pulling up stakes in Bakersfield, education-technology company Lightspeed Systems has received a major investment from private equity funds led by Chicago-based Madison Dearborn Partners LLC.

The deal announced Friday leaves Lightspeed's management team in place and affords an ownership stake to executives as well as the company's co-founders.

Terms of the transaction were not disclosed, and it was unclear what size ownership stake Madison Dearborn acquired. Lightspeed executives could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

President, CEO and co-founder Brian Thomas said in a news release Madison Dearborn "is the clear choice of a partner for Lightspeed Systems due to (its) proven success, understanding of the education and technology markets, and commitment to helping us achieve our growth potential."

Lightspeed, which also has offices in Portland, Ore. and the United Kingdom, provides a software platform that filters, manages and monitors schools' Internet use across different computer devices. It has agreements with 6,500 U.S. school districts and 28,000 schools around the world.

The co-leader of Madison Dearborn's business and government software and services unit, Managing Director Matthew Norton, said in the news release Lightspeed is in a unique position to "maximize the benefits of classroom technology."

"We look forward to continuing that successful execution of Lightspeed's strategy by leveraging our extensive experience helping companies at similar states of growth," he stated.

Lightspeed, founded in 1984 in Bakersfield as McCarthy & Associates, moved its headquarters to Austin, Texas in 2014. That year it reported annual revenue of $40 million. In 2016, the company closed its 19th Street offices in downtown Bakersfield, where it had about 80 employees, not including 29 in Texas.

Madison Dearborn, with seven funds commanding capital totaling $23 billion, has made more than 140 investments since its founding in 1992.

John Cox can be reached at 661-395-7404. Follow him on Twitter: @TheThirdGraf. Sign up at Bakersfield.com for free newsletters about local business

(1) comment


Happy for the company but sad for California. Continues the exodus of businesses to friendlier business states like Texas.

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