Former MSP and longtime industry thought leader Jim Lippie has accepted a position at Kaseya, a privately held provider of platform management tools used by 10,000 customers, including MSPs scattered across 20 countries.
Lippie, a frequent contributor to MSPmentor and a Penton Xpert, has accepted the role of General Manager of Cloud Computing for Kaseya. In this capacity, he will work to help establish the Dublin, Ireland-based company as a leader in the burgeoning world of cloud technology management.
Most recently, Lippie served as the chief advisor at Clarity Channel Advisors, a Quincy, Mass., consulting company that provides guidance to MSPs with research, software tools and community engagement. Clarity Channel Advisors oversaw the Clarity Channel Advisory Group (CCAG), which Lippie recently sold to Chris Merrill, Will Ominsky and John Barrows. In addition, Lippie was also an investor in the Clarity Intelligence Platform (CIP), which for the past two years has helped MSPmentor gather and analyze the data behind the MSPmentor 501. In the past two years, MSPmentor has worked to add greater transparency and accuracy to the MSP 501.
Since accepting his new role at Kaseya, Lippie has transitioned out of his role as an advisor to MSPmentor and will no longer contribute to the MSP 501. Going forward, MSPmentor will work with the new leadership team at CCAG and CIP to help complete the MSP 501 list and study, providing the same level of data integrity and confidentiality as before.
In advance of the 2017 Kaseya Connect Conference, where Lippie will make his debut as a Kaseya executive, MSPmentor reached out to Lippie for his perspectives on the state of the market and more. (If you’re heading to Las Vegas for the event and want to hear his observations firsthand, be sure to attend the “Industry Experts Panel: Step Out Of Your Comfort Zone To Accelerate Your MSP Business” moderated by CompTIA Senior Director and Penton Xpert Carolyn April. It is schedule for Tuesday, May 9 at 4:05 p.m.)
In my interview with the new Cloud GM of Kaseya - which is a sponsor of this year's MSP 501 - here’s a sampling of what Lippie had to say.
MSPmentor: You were building a successful business… what made you want to go off and work for a vendor? What was the appeal?
Lippie: I have received a few offers but wasn’t interested because I was loving “doing” my own business. 2016 was a banner year for me and I felt like what I was doing was really starting to get real. But then I talked to [Kaseya CEO Fred Voccola]. He said “we think we are doing something pretty special here and we want you to be a part of it.” He also said, “just don’t take my word for it, let me show you.” And he did. I’ve been super impressed with what they are saying and the road map and how everything is coming together.
MSPmentor: How do you see the market shaking out? Do you think there will be some market consolidation? Do you think it can sustain this many players?
Lippie: I do see some consolidation. Most of the [players in this space] are owned by private equity. At some point, they either go public or get bought. Something happens. The MSP ecosystem is currently big enough to support the players today. But you have a lot of new, smaller players that are starting to emerge. I think the bigger ones that are well resourced, well funded, etc., end up buying some of the smaller ones. Kaseya, ConnectWise, AutoTask, N-able, Continuum… I think these top players continue to dominate the space. But each of us all have different things that could make us more or less successful. Everything that I have seen from Kaseya tells me they have it going on now.
MSPmentor: Would another technology company outside this space be interested in these capabilities going forward?
Lippie: It’s a great question. They should be. I think a lot of the companies that we are talking about right now generally see themselves as standalone companies that get bought buy another private equity firm or wind up going public. This is what big, software companies do…
MSPmentor: …Exactly. They scale, enter adjacent markets, etc…
Lippie: …Develop recurring revenues, etc.
Lippie: …So why wouldn’t a Dell or HP want these capabilities going forward? It would make sense to me. Why? The companies in [the RMM, PSA] space have proven to able to work with MSPs to get into the SMB space, where big vendors have not been as effective.
MSPmentor: Let’s shift to the community. How do we get more companies selling these types of services? Is it by penetrating the telco agents that are becoming MSPs? Is it engaging the cloud services brokers that need some of these capabilities as they expand their portfolios? Talk about that… how do you see the pie growing?
Lippie: I talk about this a lot. I tell MSPs, “look, you need to do everything you can to gain as much share of the pie as possible.” That’s because the budget of small businesses are finite. At the end of the day, you need to grab as much of that as you can. Otherwise you are opening the door for someone else to come in and offer something that is a point solution that could become bigger inside your customer. I think that there are other services that MSPs could be offering that will create more market share for them—additional revenue streams, etc. One of the things that I really like that Kaseya is doing, and what part of my role will be, is empowering MSPs to launch new services. Take AuthAnvil, for instance. This is our access and identity management offering. This is a huge opportunity for MSPs. One of the first things I’ll be doing is coming out and teaching MSPs how to stand up a new identity access management offering. This isn’t just giving them software but everything from web content to webinars to calculators, etc. It’s all designed to help MSPs help get more of the pie. To your question: we will do what we can to help grow the overall pie, but we will also help partners grow their share of it.
MSPmentor: What do you think about the competition that may come from an AWS or Comcast that may want to offer MSP-like services… Does it loom as a threat to MSPs down the road?
Lippie: At the end of the day, MSPs have something that they can rely on: it’s what I call “small business accountability.” The average 40-50 person company does not want to interface or deal with AWS. There are some that have the technical wherewithal or the economic need to save a few pennies… they will be fine dealing with these vendors directly. But I think the core constituent of the MSP today does not want to deal directly with IT management themselves or a vendor that offers it via the Web. They will pay a little bit extra to have a fully managed service, whatever that service may be. That’s the value an MSP brings.
MSPmentor: How do you see MSPs progressing or struggling over the next few years? Some people believe we are about to enter the “Golden Age” of MSPs while others only see existential threats around them. How do you think the channel is going to fare in the next three to five years?
Lippie: I think good things are ahead, but not for every MSP. I’ve been preaching for a long time that if you’re not looking ahead, not developing a comprehensive cloud strategy, looking at new ways to add recurring revenue or going out and taking your business consulting to the next level with your customers, then you are going to perish. But the MSPs that do get it and are extending their services into other areas or looking to be a trusted advisor to customers… they are the ones that will become very successful, I believe.