Continuum's Next Five Moves Revealed: From Cloud to IPO?

Continuum's Next Five Moves Revealed: From Cloud to IPO?

Continuum CEO Michael George is thinking big. The company's current focus mainly involves remote monitoring and management (RMM) and NOC (network operations center) services. But stay tuned for at least five major moves including a (1) help desk initiative, (2) a massive sales enablement strategy that drives customers to MSPs, (3) potential acquisitions (4) a bigger cloud play and (5) a potential IPO further down the road. Here's the update.

George shared Continuum's strategy and discussed the broader managed services provider (MSP) market with MSPmentor during Autotask Community Live yesterday.

Continuum, formerly Zenith RMM, is adding more than 140 MSPs to its partner base per month. Moreover, Continuum has added roughly 200 new employees to its staff since September 2011. That figure includes roughly 150 positions and people who were replaced, and roughly 50 newly or recently created positions.

First Reactions

George concedes that MSPs and partners "froze in their tracks" during September and October 2011, when Continuum first emerged as a standalone company. Some customer indecision involved a Zenith Infotech bond default -- but George repeatedly stated that Continuum was free and clear of that financial hiccup.

"There was a lot of 'wait and see' from partners," said George. "But we delivered on our promise of a release a month; we've been publishing our release notes and we promised our partners we would do the QA (quality assurance) work -- they would not be our QA testers."

A source within the Continuum partner base, active on the company's partner advisory council, confirms that Continuum has lived up to those commitments. While the Continuum code base (initially inherited from Zenith Infotech's RMM product) was "big and robust product" it lacked an elegant user interface.

R&D... And Acquisitions?

Through predictable release dates and potential acquisitions, George says, Continuum will further strengthen its software platform. "We're looking to buy new and better technology to put into the footprint of our [software]," said George. "We'll be making technology acquisitions to help our MSPs, not to aggregate the MSP community."

Continuum is part of a $3.9 billion Summit Partners fund. George says Summit studied the managed services software market for three years, then spent nearly a year studying the Zenith RMM solution before making the investment. Summit pulled George into the conversation around February 2011, and he was named CEO when Summit made the investment and formed Continuum in September 2011.

Recent Deals, Emerging Rivals

In recent months, Continuum has built partnerships with Datto (for storage and business continuity) and LogMeIn. "We're [LogMeIn's] largest partner, customer and consumer in the world," crows George. "We've got the right management with the right market opportunity. The fact is we've just scratched the surface."

At the same time, George expects a range of rivals to potentially emerge in the MSP market -- everyone from big PC makers to enterprise software companies to Big Box retailers. "Everyone is nibbling at the cookie from different angles."

Getting Aggressive

In the weeks and months ahead, watch for Continuum to get more aggressive with its industry statements and competitive positioning.

"We're on a forced march. It's a good march. It's up a hill and into battle," said George. "We've been pretty careful not to pick any fights with anyone. We've been making our own way amongst a pretty dusty start. But we will be a little more aggressive and declarative about certain categories."

Continuum will be careful not to get into features and functions war. Instead, George sees big, strategic opportunities to grow the company. Those moves will include a big help desk push, sales enablement and marketing tools that drive end-customers to MSPs, George hinted.

During a cloud-related session, George also dropped hints about a major cloud push that will allow MSPs to manage applications off premises for customers. George declined to describe specific details but his body language suggested something big could be coming.

And longer term, Continuum will pursue an initial public offering (IPO). Just don't call it an exit strategy. George notes that Summit tends to retain a stake in its investments over the long haul.

Bottom Line

Overall, George painted the following picture of Continuum: Predictable, on-time R&D; continued growth; and expanding into new markets through partnerships and -- ultimately -- through potential acquisitions.

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