PKWARE, Inc., based in Milwaukee, WI develops and markets award-winning data compression software and utilities. Founded in 1986 by Phil Katz, a legendary programmer who pioneered data compression for more efficient storage and faster on-line transfers, the company grew rapidly in the 1990s as its popular PKZIP program and the .ZIP file format became the de facto industry standards for data compression.
In 2000, the founder passed away unexpectedly and his estate put the business up for sale. There were a number of potential buyers, both established software firms and financial groups, who were interested in submitting bids. A group of senior managers at PKWARE was also interested in bidding but, like most managers, they lacked the financial resources to bid against established and better financed software companies and financial buyers.
In the fall of 2000, the PKWARE management team approached Grace Matthews to seek help in acquiring the company. Grace Matthews developed a strategy to find a tech-savvy investor to partner with management. Ultimately, Grace Matthews and PKWARE management partnered with private investor Dr. George Haddix, a software entrepreneur with a track record of acquiring and growing technology-based businesses. Working closely with Dr. Haddix and management, Grace Matthews secured the deal with a winning bid and was able to successfully complete the transaction within the tight timeframe established by the estate.