mindSHIFT CEO Paul Chisholm's Top Four Business Priorities

During an interview at mindSHIFT's Long Island offices yesterday, CEO Paul Chisholm revealed his top priorities for the rest of 2011. More managed services acquisitions? More cloud marketing? Instead of guessing simply read on for a recap of my conversation with Chisholm.

The conversation covered...

1. Four Key Priorities:

  • Strengthening mindSHIFT's image and branding. A new corporate web site is set to go live on or about Monday, June 20. The site will promote mindSHIFT's expertise in cloud computing, outsourcing and delivering IT peace of mind to customers.
  • Continuing to expand mindSHIFT's cloud services business -- including some sort of virtual desktop announcement that's coming soon. (mindSHIFT is among a handful of companies that have landed on our annual MSPmentor 100 and Talkin' Cloud 50 lists, respectively).
  • Continuing to seek new approaches to efficiency and automation.
  • Cross-selling between mindSHIFT's various business groups.
2. Cloud and managed services perspectives: Chisholm thinks the cloud wave will build faster than the original managed services wave, though he said cloud computing will continue to require plenty of customer education.

"Since Microsoft, Amazon and other big companies are talking about the cloud I do think that gives cloud computing a blessing of sorts as a legitimate technology," said Chisholm. But, he adds, mindSHIFT won't paint cloud as perfect. Nothing in IT, he notes, runs without an occasional hiccup though he says cloud services for the most part are incredibly reliable.

"We don't want customers to think they have to hand over all of their applications," said Chisholm. "Perhaps they want to put Exchange in the cloud first; you don't have to give us every application to gain the benefits of the cloud."

Chisholm expects cloud and managed services to blur over time. But mindSHIFT draws a line between the two approaches. For instance, managing a co-location server is managed services rather than a true cloud solution. To gain cloud momentum, mindSHIFT will continue to focus on hosted Exchange, cloud backup, VoIP services, and the legal vertical with a specific cloud application for attorneys.

3. mindSHIFT's View of Microsoft Office 365: "You can’t stick your head in the sand when Microsoft talks about low-priced services and the cloud," said Chisholm. "There’s a place for Office 365 but what are you buying in terms of service? There will always be a place in the market for service providers like us."

4. Recent and Future Acquisitions:
  • mindSHIFT acquired Alpheon, a healthcare-centric MSP, earlier this year. Chisholm said the deal has worked out well. he confirmed that former Alpheon CEO Greg Donovan left mindSHIFT after three months but the separation decision was professional and mutual, Chisholm noted. Alpheon veterans like David Sturdivant have marched forward with mindSHIFT, Chisholm added.
  • mindSHIFT also acquired ORBIT Systems earlier this year, primarily to make a geographic play in the midwest and also Arizona. "Of all the deals we've done, ORBIT is the one that most mirrors us in terms of services and our vision for the cloud," said Chisholm.
  • mindSHIFT hears about two new potential M&A targets per week but doesn't investigate all of them. Some are too small; others rely too heavily on consulting revenues. And near term, Chisholm says mindSHIFT doesn't expect to close any new deals within the next few months.
5. Funding and Venture Capital: Yes, mindSHIFT is venture capitalist funded. But mindSHIFT's VCs aren't looking for a fast exit. Also, mindSHIFT does not need to raise more capital. "None of our investors want or need to exit," said Chisholm. He said the VCs won't be involved forever, and perhaps a new investor will step in at some point if one of the VCs wants to step out. But overall, reading Chisholm's body language and listening to his words, it sounds like mindSHIFT's financial backers are content for the long haul.

That's all for now. We'll be back with a look at the new mindSHIFT web site as soon as it goes live on or about June 20, 2011.

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