back to article SolarWinds’ shares drop 22 per cent. But what’s this? $286m in stock sales just before hack announced?

Two Silicon Valley VC firms, Silver Lake and Thoma Bravo, sold hundreds of millions of dollars in SolarWinds shares just days before the software biz emerged at the center of a massive hacking campaign. Silver Lake and Thoma Bravo deny anything untoward. The two firms owned 70 per cent of SolarWinds, which produces networking …

  1. TheRealRoland

    "Large-scale grift, son. Nothing else in the world smells like that. I love the smell of grift in the morning."

    1. TimMaher Silver badge

      Outstanding, @TheRealRoland. Outstanding.

      Get you a case of beer for that. ———->

  2. rjed
    Thumb Down

    ...were not aware of this potential cyberattack at SolarWinds

    One might think, what a reckless way of running the company? They own 70% of the company, have 6 board seats and they were not aware of the most defining moment of their investment/firm.

    Either they are too dumb or they think an average Joe is too dumb.

    Regardless, after the SEC investigation, am sure one of average Joe will find out how dumb (s)he was when (s)he is remanded to prison and not the firm's top ones.

    1. FlamingDeath Silver badge

      Re: ...were not aware of this potential cyberattack at SolarWinds

      When ever I imagine these... ahem... “investors” and how they would look and sound, I am always left with the image of Frito sayin “I like Money”

      Welcome to the world of dumb fuckery where money is the SOLE driving factor in human activities

    2. Chris G

      Re: ...were not aware of this potential cyberattack at SolarWinds

      I would look for one of their infosec people on early retirement and a larger than usual gold watch, a man who understands the word shtum.

    3. A random security guy

      Re: ...were not aware of this potential cyberattack at SolarWinds

      Rich people don’t go to prison.

  3. rjed

    Make IT look easy!

    .. is what SolarWinds tagline is. They sure lived up to it.

  4. Anonymous Coward

    The rich aren't like you or me

    They can blame it on the CEO resigning but clearly he knew what was coming and got out before the feces hit the fan.

    Just as clearly, as board members and major investors, they had talked to the CEO and knew what was coming.

    And I predict that it will be swept under a bespoke rug.

  5. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    Living dangerously playing the markets for a sucker

    Two Silicon Valley VC firms, Silver Lake and Thoma Bravo, sold hundreds of millions of dollars in SolarWinds shares just days before the software biz emerged at the center of a massive hacking campaign.

    Silver Lake and Thoma Bravo deny anything untoward.

    I doubt anything untoward is at the top of the thought list of their new owners if the shares where bought by a Soprano

    1. Strahd Ivarius Silver badge

      Re: Living dangerously playing the markets for a sucker

      Just imagine the headline if they have been bought instead by a Сопрано ?

  6. YetAnotherJoeBlow

    Status Quo

    Every time this happens, I think that the investors would not be that stupid - yet here we are, again.

    1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

      Re: Status Quo Command and Control Problems with Virtual Opportunities Rampant and Rabid

      It's a gift that just keeps on giving, YetAnotherJoeBlow ........ and Albert Einstein noted ....

      Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I'm not sure about the universe.

      And some prime plonkers and sub-prime doozies just can't stop themselves proving it.

      What can be done about it, if anything at all, or whether it is to forever remain a very convenient and catastrophic vulnerability for more intelligent beings to exploit and explore, engage and expand operations with, itself engages many who be more than just a tad anxious and even fearfully terrified of the possibility, and therefore extremely likely probability of the mixed augmented virtual reality being an extant presentation indicative of the realisation of existential threat actor theatres of ....... well, Greater IntelAIgent Games Fields of Play sounds pretty innocuous and suitably unthreatening, so quite an appropriate APT misnomer in such circumstances/Earthly Iterations.

      Maybe it is one of Cheltenham's Wild Child Toys broken free of Pandora's Box of Tricks and Ancient Spells ?

    2. FlamingDeath Silver badge

      Re: Status Quo


      Yeah I know they call themselves this, but they’re not, they’re just shit cunt gamblers looking for the easy life

      1. Potemkine! Silver badge

        Re: Status Quo

        Not all of them. There also people laundering money too.

        1. VulcanV5

          Re: Status Quo

          Ther are "Also"??? C'mon. The main reason for investments in crap movies, stuff liker Uber, and just about any other VC-favorited subject is to launder money. $billions of it gets washed and ironed every day. Trouble is, as with film production, one day it's going to strangle the life out of that which maintains its existence.

      2. Pascal Monett Silver badge

        Re: looking for the easy life

        It seems to me that they already have the money for an easy life. Those $100+ millions they sold ? They invested that first. They likely needed a fair amount of millions to be able to sell those shares for that amount.

        If I had $50 million, I guarantee there would be no VCing for me. I'd shut down my company, kick back and enjoy taking my wife to the restaurant every day of the week, spending the rest of the time gaming, YouTubing and generally being retired.

        But I don't have that money.

        1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Re: looking for the easy life

          These are VC companies not people.

          They take other people's money and invest in companies and try and make money so THOSE people can take their wives to restaurants

          It's like saying if I was a bank manager - I wouldn't bother running a bank, I'd just take those billions and buy an island

        2. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

          Re: looking for the easy life

          If I had $50 million...

          Perfectly reasonable, and there are certainly worse things to do with your money. At least you'd be spreading it around (keeping the velocity up), with a good bit of it going to lower-tier earners in the service sector.

          Personally, I really don't think I'd quit working if I came into a windfall like that. I have my entertainments - mostly reading and spending time with family - but I also have to keep busy, and I'd get bored just working on the house and cars. I'd be very tempted to buy the property across from ours, though; we like the guy who rents and farms it, and I'd prefer he stay there rather than the current owner someday selling it to a developer.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: looking for the easy life

            Yep. If you're already middle class and a bit sensible, $50M is not life changing. It is your pension fund sorted plus a couple of little caprices such as your example about the neighbours' property. For the rest, easy come, easy go.

    3. DS999 Silver badge

      Re: Status Quo

      They aren't being stupid if they know how hard insider trading is to prove. The courts won't convict someone when timing of the sale is the only evidence, they will need some sort of paper trail like an email or perhaps phone records showing a call from the CEO of Solar Winds and right after that the sale happens.

      About the only time they will convict someone based on timing alone is buying options right before a major move, especially by someone who does not typically trade options at all. Usually in those cases the trade is damning, what they need to show is where that person could have got the inside information from (usually not that hard, as it will be a relation of some sort)

  7. FlamingDeath Silver badge

    For a long time I was wondering what VC stood for, I naturally came to the conclusion it stood

    for ‘Verified Cunt’ but actually after giving it some

    More thought, I realised it stood for Venture Capitalist.

    Is there a difference?

    Seems I was right both times

    1. FILE_ID.DIZ
      Thumb Up

      Schrödinger's cat for the definition of a word.

      1. xbit.ops

        FILE_ID.DIZ... Hmm, something tells me you were a Sysop back in the day ;) As was I. I Miss the day of the BBS.

  8. Potemkine! Silver badge

    "Spokespeople for Silver Lake, Thoma Bravo, and SolarWinds were not available for immediate comment"

    Unless you are making a study on PR BS, does that really matter?

  9. sitta_europea Silver badge

    I have long and painful personal experience of Venture Capitalists.

    After I pulled the plug on a scheme involving my own company (which I'd built from nothing to fifteen people and multi-million turnover in four years from 1978) one of the biggest of the Cs said to me

    "What if it had worked?"

    1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

      If U Got the Product We Got the Production Covered .... Performance Virtually Guaranteed FailSafe

      one of the biggest of the Cs said to me, ...."What if it had worked?"....... sitta_europea

      That's certainly something the biggest of frauds would be liable to say, sitta_europea.

      Really successful venture capitalists never have any need to deal with such failings as lack fabulous fabless further forwarding planning with prime premium product placements of novel intelligence in Future Enterprised Free Zones, where everything works perfectly according to openly shared AIMaster Planning Programs/Surreal Mixed Augmented Virtual Reality Projects.

      Spooky Quantum Entanglement at a Distance Engagement with Extra-Dimensional Beings ...... and something somewhat fundamentally different from anything you might know betatesting New Infrastructure, New Opportunities: China's Intelligent Economic Development White Paper type Feed and Seed for the likes of Assets in a China Development Research Foundation and IARPA, a GCHQ Doughnut or Kremlin Cosy Bear Skin of a Practically Functional, Extremely Exciting and Endlessly Excited and Easily Excitable Virtual Disguise.

      One thing you can be sure of there, to not give it all of your attention in the pursuit of delivery and acceptance of imperfect perfection and insatiable desire, has one bogged down and struggling on Earth whilst others prepare you for Almighty Space Trips ...... with Introductions to Novel ProgramMING, Novel ProgramMING Novel ProgramMING Projects out in the Open for All to Peer Review and See, Follow and Experience as Planned .... and ideally, when everything goes almost perfectly according to plans, as Fervently Expected and Richly Deserved.

      If you're exceptionally lucky and incredibly gifted, one can find it most agreeable to semi-permanently bog oneself down and embed oneself deep into the dark and succulent embrace of the most tremendously tempting of environments trailed and tested to perfection for there ...... and for trialing in further fields afar and abroad.

      And a Colossal Labour of LOVE rather than ManICQ Series of Epic Hellish Tasks ....... although quite where the boundary between those two is, if such a hurdle even exists, is presently unclear and missing positive definition.

  10. rackit

    Not always what they appear to be - Scheduled Sales

    Transactions like these are automated and scheduled months or years in advance and are filed with the FTC at the time of scheduling. We have situations like this in the USA when politicians sell out of a biotech stock the same week the stock tanks. While it looks shady to the unknowing, it's really just a stroke of brilliant luck on the part of the selling party when these scheduled sales happen just before bad news hits. It's a great headline, but, these aren't the droids your looking for. Move along.

    1. Kefik

      Re: Not always what they appear to be - Scheduled Sales

      Funny how some people seem to always be lucky. Could it be scheduled luck?

    2. DS999 Silver badge

      Re: Not always what they appear to be - Scheduled Sales

      If that was the case, they would have said exactly that when asked about it - and would be able to provide proof via the FTC filing. The fact they didn't shows it was not a scheduled sale.

      1. Strahd Ivarius Silver badge

        Re: Not always what they appear to be - Scheduled Sales

        It was scheduled when they discovered the breach in March, perhaps?

  11. Jay 2

    Having been on the end of Silver Lake's "investment"* before, they care for nothing but the accumulation of the mighty dollar (or whatever currency is around). I agree with some other commenters on how this went down; bad stuff happens, CEO decides to jump before it really hits the fan, says so at board meeting, VC types on the board freak out knowing how bad it will be for their investment and then cash in before it becomes public and stock goes through the floor.

    * eg Acquire company (or bits therof), spend as very little money on company, cut costs by getting rid of those pesky/expensive workers, big themselves up, flog company to someone else for a tidy profit, retire to the bar for celebratory drinkies.

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