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Friday, Apr 12, 2024

Linewize Parent Co. Buys U.K. Competitor

Family Zone Cyber Safety, parent company of San Diego-based Linewize, has purchased U.K software company Smoothwall, one of the largest online student cyber-safety providers.


Family Zone paid $142 million AUD (Australian dollars) to acquire Smoothwall. 


Finalized Sept. 1

The deal, finalized on Sept. 1, will allow Linewize’s advanced content filtering software to serve more than 9 million students globally.


Rancho Bernardo-based Linewize is a division of FamilyZone Cyber Safety Ltd., which is headquartered in Perth, Australia. Family Zone’s stock trades on the Australian stock exchange under the ticker FZO − and is up nearly 75% year to date.


The acquisition of Leeds, U.K.-based Smoothwall adds several key new capabilities to the Linewize cyber safety portfolio, including advanced threat detection and a tool that allows schools to easily record child protection issues and safety incidents electronically.


In confirming the deal’s close, an update from Family Zone’s board of directors said the short-term emphasis moving forward will be “on maintaining market momentum and adding value as well as building an integrated platform and operating model.” 


“One of the driving forces for the acquisition of Smoothwall was the similar cultures” at the two cyber-safety companies, the Family Zone board stated.


Linewize products allow parents and school officials to monitor students online, filtering sites like YouTube, Tik Tok and Google while limiting a host of potential threats that include exposure to adult content, cyberbullying and sleep disturbances.


The Smoothwall acquisition, which comes on the heels of Linewize’s recent purchase of classroom management software company NetRef, makes Linewize one of the world’s largest online safety providers. The company’s products now support more than 18,000 schools across the U.S., U.K., Australia and New Zealand.


Strategic Hire

At the same time the Smoothwall acquisition was confirmed, Linewize also announced the strategic hire of psychologist Teodora Pavkovic, a leading cyber safety and digital wellness expert.

Pavkovic has a master’s in clinical psychology, has trained in both psychotherapy and coaching and is a member of both the American and British psychological associations — and the co-chair of Fairplay’s (formerly the Children’s Screen-Time Action Network) parenting professionals’ group.


In her role as an advisor and content creator at Linewize, Pavkovic will counsel parents, teachers and students in the company’s network of schools on topics concerning mental health, responsible and safe use of technology, parenting in the digital age and child development.


“I’m thrilled to join the Linewize team and help further advance their portfolio of tools and resources,” said Pavkovic. “It’s tough to be ‘well’ in 2021 without addressing technology − and I’m grateful for the opportunity to be able to provide guidance and address some of the big questions and concerns that educators and families have about the role it plays in our lives, whether it is in the home or the classroom.”


“Teaching kids to foster a healthy relationship with technology is an ongoing effort that doesn’t stop at the school gate,” said Ross Young, senior vice president and general manager of Linewize North America.  

Digital Health

“While online safety is a top concern for Linewize, ensuring the digital health and wellness of each child goes much deeper than that,” Young said. “By adding Teodora’s expertise and Smoothwall’s tools into our portfolio of solutions, we can offer a truly end-to-end solution and serve our customers in a much more holistic and comprehensive way.”  

Linewize has an app that allows parents to monitor their child’s school and home time online visibility. The company also offers a proprietary online community containing free resources and expert information on safety and digital wellbeing for parents.


Educators report Linewize software helps minimize administrative workloads while maximizing required cyber safety compliance.


“Based on our early success of keeping kids safe online, the acquisitions we’ve made have allowed us to become the most comprehensive cyber safety solution on the market,” Young said. “We’re literally saving kids’ lives every day − and we are one of the top five [companies] in the world to provide these services.”


FOUNDED: 2013  

HEADQUARTERS: Rancho Bernardo


AREA EMPLOYEES: 15 local (53 in North America)

PARENT COMPANY: Family Zone Cyber Safety headquartered in Australia

WEBSITE: www.linewize.com

STOCK TICKER: Family Zone traded on Australian exchange under FZO

ANNUAL REVENUE: $3.5 million ($5.35M AUD)

NOTABLE: Linewize app lets parents use their smartphones to manage children’s devices 


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