When ConnectWise Capital invested in LabTech Software two years ago, I suspected ConnectWise CEO Arnie Bellini and President David Bellini would micro-manage LabTech. Fast forward two years, and LabTech CEO Matt Nachtrab is keynoting Automation Nation while the Bellini brothers are seated in the audience. How are the Bellini brothers balancing vision, delegation, team empowerment and execution? Here's an update.
At this weeks' Automation Nation conference, Nachtrab described how MSPs should strive to displace corporate IT departments all the way up to Fortune 500 companies. Scores of MSPs arrived at the conference yesterday. Nachtrab and the LabTech team spent much of Tuesday meeting with those partners, and many attendees focused on education sessions hosted by Gary Pica (TruMethods) and Paul Dippell (Service Leadership Inc.), among others.
Late Arrivals?Last evening I asked a LabTech employee when Arnie and David Bellini would arrive. The reply: They'll definitely be here for Matt's keynote on Wednesday. The employee described Automation Nation as LabTech's chance to jump out of a plane and skydive on its own -- without any parent or outside mentors providing a safety net or emergency chute.
ConnectWise and LabTech have never disclosed ownership percentages in the company, so I can't call ConnectWise LabTech's parent. But it's safe to consider Arnie and David Bellini mentors to the ConnectWise Capital investments.
Give and TakeArnie and David Bellini are a balancing act of sorts: While Arnie poured millions of dollars into building ConnectWise's user community, David provided the reality check: How would the company measure ROI? Where were the dollars going? Ultimately, a culture of community emerged within ConnectWise and across the company's partner base.
But that culture is evolving. Sources say the ConnectWise Capital investments -- Quosal and LabTech, most notably -- have greatly influenced the way ConnectWise does business. For instance, new hires now get more vacation time than previously, some insiders say. And work hours have become a bit more flexible as ConnectWise's workforce adapts to the mobile, always-on world.
Arnie Bellini and I have had some pretty intense debates over the past four years. We don't always see eye to eye. And ConnectWise itself has engaged in coopetition with peer software companies -- partnering and competing, which makes for some stressful moments in the industry.
Strong Opinions, Executive Team DecisionsDuring public speaking opportunities, Arnie Bellini is known to dive into every detail -- every graphic, every slide build, every piece of session music. Based on simple anecdotes like those, I wondered if Arnie could delegate as ConnectWise and the ConnectWise Capital investments grew.
But then a few months ago, Arnie and I somehow landed on the topic of executive leadership during a phone call. That's when I realized Arnie and David Bellini had been delegating for at least the past five years.
And today, Arnie and David Bellini continued to delegate -- arriving to watch Nachtrab and the LabTech team step into an event spotlight while the brothers sat in the shadows (second row, stage left) and applauded.