MSP Software Acquisitions: Brain Drain Or New Leadership?

Key executives are leaving Kaseya, Level Platforms and N-able Technologies amid mergers, acqusitions and buyouts. Do the exits signal an MSP software industry brain drain -- or is a new generation of leadership about to emerge?

Joe Panettieri, Former Editorial Director

June 25, 2013

3 Min Read
MSP industry leaders like Gerald Blackie Dan Wensley and Gavin Garbutt have exited in recent weeks But a new generation of industry leaders is
MSP industry leaders like Gerald Blackie, Dan Wensley and Gavin Garbutt have exited in recent weeks. But a new generation of industry leaders is emerging.

They’re gone. Former Kaseya CEO Gerald Blackie, Former N-able CEO Gavin Garbutt and Former Level Platforms VP Dan Wensley each have exited their posts in recent weeks when their companies were acquired. It begs the question: Is the managed services provider (MSP) software industry suffering from a brain drain? Or is a new generation of executives emerging to drive this industry forward?

Let’s start with the changes:

  • Amid Insight Venture Partners’ buyout of Kaseya today, Yogesh Gupta has succeeded Blackie as CEO. Blackie spotted the MSP industry opportunity early, and championed standards like ITIL to help MSPs build world-class operations. But Gupta is no slouch. He previously was CTO of CA Technologies, and built FatWire before a successful company sale to Oracle.

  • When SolarWinds acquired N-able for $120 million earlier this month, N-able’s Garbutt essentially exited immediately. Garbutt was one of the industry’s most optimistic leaders. But during an exit interview with MSPmentor, Garbutt mentioned that he has never worked in the same industry twice — a strong hint that his next move won’t involve MSPs. Back at N-able, it’s clear President JP Jauvin will be calling the shots as GM, under SolarWinds’ management. 

  • When AVG Technologies purchased Level Platforms two weeks ago, Wensley transitioned out of Level Platforms. At first I was shocked by the move. (Imagine buying the New England Patriots without keeping Tom Brady around as the field general.) But gradually I learned about AVG executives who have extensive M&A expertise, and Level Platforms veterans like Dave Sobel and Rob Rae appear to be stepping into the spotlight under the continued leadership of Peter Sandiford.

Familiar Leaders

Meanwhile, some big names have continued to drive their respective companies forward.

  • Arnie and David Bellini have ConnectWise in rapid-growth mode.

  • Walter Scott is driving GFI Software into new markets like backup.

  • ManageEngine President Raj Sabhlok continues to deliver rapid growth, backed by an expanding portfolio of MSP and IT management software. 

Change Can Be Good

Each time an MSP software company gets acquired or changes leadership, some skeptics express fear, uncertainty and doubt (FUD). But consider some of these moves — most of which have gone quite well.

  • At Autotask, Mark Cattini succeeded Bob Godgart as CEO in December 2010. Under Godgart, Autotask successfully grew to about $20 million in annual revenues but a VARStreet acquisition became a distraction and competition with ConnectWise seemed to be all-consuming. Cattini sold off VARStreet and shifted Autotask to a global expansion strategy, which seems to be succeeding.

  • At Continuum (formerly Zenith RMM) CEO Michael George and a long list of enterprise technology veterans have solidified the company’s software platform, strengthened NOC services and pushed into new markets like BDR services.

  • At Intronis, the CEO shift from Sam Gutmann to Kent Plunkett ultimately triggered layoffs and a company reset in early 2013. But more recently, current CEO Rick Faulk has been working closely with Channel Chief (and co-founder Neal Bradbury) to generate more predictable growth in the MSP market.

New(er) Kids on the Block 

Plus, a new generation of MSP experts (such as LabTech Software CEO Matt Nachtrab and Datto CEO Austin McChord) is leading hyper-growth companies. 

The bottom line: Some big names have exited the MSP executive ranks in recent weeks. But it looks like there are plenty of talented folks to fill those vacant chairs.

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About the Author(s)

Joe Panettieri

Former Editorial Director, Nine Lives Media, a division of Penton Media

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