Instructure ($NYSE:INST) is being taken private by LBO firm Thoma Bravo, headed up by investing legend Orlando Bravo - and again a pretty familiar tell emerged in the data before the $2 billion deal was announced. 

The Utah-based provider of educational software reduced job postings by more than 50% from their peak just a few months ago. It's a common sign of pre-deal considerations when a company's management begins to reduce both headcount and job postings - and it's come up again and again as 2019's biggest deals generated data that seemed to indicate when talks kicked off for mega-M&A. 

The transaction is good news for just about all shareholders, with the notable exception of those that bought in at the very top for Instructure, because Thoma Bravo's offer trimmed nearly 10% from the current per-share value.

As private equity firms loaded with record hauls of LP cash are increasingly coming to market, it's noteworthy that a company is willing to take a haircut on its market valuation - but then again it's still a 27%+ premium on Instructure shares. 

There's still a 35-day go-shop period, where the board can consider other offers - but because they're going to be working at the new company, there's little incentive for them to go out and risk their jobs with another buyer.

Unless, of course, a Carl Icahn arrives to do a little agitating at the deadline, as he's been known to do with a private equity deal or two. 

About the Data: 

Thinknum tracks companies using the information they post online - jobs, social and web traffic, product sales and app ratings - and creates data sets that measure factors like hiring, revenue and foot traffic. Data sets may not be fully comprehensive (they only account for what is available on the web), but they can be used to gauge performance factors like staffing and sales. 

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