PwC acquires Ottawa IT firm Avaleris in bid to boost cybersecurity offerings

Cybersecurity stock photo

Accounting giant PricewaterhouseCoopers announced Thursday it has acquired Ottawa-based IT firm Avaleris as part of its push to bolster its cloud, cybersecurity and other tech offerings.

Terms of the deal, which closed on Wednesday, were not disclosed.

Founded in 2006, Avaleris provides cybersecurity infrastructure for cloud-based organizations. It has customers in the public sector as well as in the financial services, oil and gas, telecom, retail, health-care and other industries. 

Avaleris president and CEO Ron Mac Donell said that as cyber threats become more commonplace, global IT providers are pouring more money and resources into their cybersecurity offerings, making it tougher for smaller firms such as his to compete.

“It seemed to be the right time (to sell),” he said. “It was all very natural.”

Mac Donell and Avaleris co-founder Anita Burwash will stay on for a year as advisers before exiting the business. Mac Donell said he plans to focus on his other entrepreneurial venture, security software company AffinitiQuest.io.

Cyber threat fears rising

About 35 Avaleris employees will now join PwC, which is absorbing the Ottawa firm’s operations into its existing 300-person Canadian cybersecurity team.

PwC is among many global professional services firms that are shoring up their cybersecurity expertise amid mounting attacks on cloud-based networks. 

The company’s recent survey of more than 300 Canadian CEOs found that cyber threats were the No. 2 concern facing their businesses.

Earlier this summer, PwC unveiled a new global strategy aimed at expanding its offerings in areas such as cloud security, artificial intelligence and other emerging technologies.

“We already had some of those capabilities, but this (deal) further expands it,” PwC’s tech and cloud leader Saj Nair said. “The timing was perfect.”

The two companies already share some customers and both have strong partnerships with Microsoft, he noted. 

The relationship between Mac Donell and the Big Four accounting firm actually goes back decades – PwC, which provides tax, accounting and other advisory services to Avaleris, provided similar services to two companies previously founded by Mac Donell. 

“They knew about PwC and how we worked,” Nair said. “So I think there was a bit of comfort there.”