Autotask has confirmed that Senior VP Jay McBain is exiting the company later this year. On the one hand, McBain's overall tenure at Autotask will only be about 12 months. But on the other hand, McBain made some key moves that influenced the company's messaging and direction with managed services providers. Here's a look at some of McBain's moves during his time at Autotask, and some questions I have about Autotask going forward.
Among McBain's moves:
At Autotask Community Live earlier this year, new CEO Mark Cattini was set to kick off the conference and outgoing Chief Visionary Officer Bob Godgart was set to follow with a vision keynote. But I noticed the agenda changed shortly before the event. I believe it was McBain who flip-flopped the keynotes, subtly positioning the day as closure for Godgart and a launching point for Cattini. Godgart cleared out his office shortly thereafter but he remains chairman.
McBain also had a role in rethinking Autotask's community strategy. In 2010, Autotask tried to drive grass-roots user groups -- where Autotask's users actually drove the gatherings. But attendance was light and growth directions were unclear, according to those who attended those early gatherings. In stark contrast, rival ConnectWise has built successful user groups across North America, Europe and Australia. Some of those events typically attract 100 MSPs each quarter. ConnectWise has backed the effort with consistent funding and strong community engagement, led by Director of Community Jeannine Edwards.
Shifting Autotask's community direction, McBain had a hand this year in launching Autotask Community On Tour, a multi-city road show. The one-day events are broken into multiple segments. I don't have a clear indicator on attendance figures, but Autotask promotions suggest the on-tour effort will attract more than 1,000 attendees overall. And finally, McBain tried to push Autotask into new market segments -- such as audio visual resellers.
Lingering QuestionsMcBain's transition from Autotask raises some questions. On the one hand, he remains with the company through the end of 2011. But on the other hand his last day in the office was Aug. 31. I think that basically says he's done with day-to-day efforts and transitioning his role to others at Autotask.
Autotask has made multiple executive management changes since last year. Cattini and McBain arrived in December 2010. CFO Vince Zumbo arrived in early 2011. Familiar veterans like Godgart (formerly CEO and then chief visionary officer) and Bob Vogel (formerly chief marketing officer) left the company this year (though Godgart remains chairman). McBain's exit seems strange given his short tenure but I don't want to hype the situation or overstate the impact. There are plenty of numerous, long-tenured folks at Autoask such as Senior VP Len DiCostanzo.
It's clear that Cattini has been positioning Autotask as a SaaS and cloud business platform provider -- somewhat akin to Salesforce.com or NetSuite for the IT channel. Cattini has also vowed to ensure Autotask is truly a cross-platform cloud application, accessible from all major web browsers. I'm seeking to determine how those efforts are coming along.