I'm starting to hear a familiar trend from some managed services platform providers: They're saying no thanks to potential investors. The latest example involves N-able CEO Gavin Garbutt, who says he's receiving roughly three calls a week from potential investors, hedge fund experts and other financial gurus. But so far N-able hasn't grabbed the cash. Why not take the money and run? Here are some answers.
I caught up with Garbutt in Manhattan Tuesday to learn if -- or when -- N-able and its rivals would pursue initial public offerings. Garbutt says the company doesn't need IPO money right now. But he also concedes that the doors for a potential IPO are closed right now because public financial markets remain weak. He doesn't expect any companies in N-able's market to pursue IPOs until sometime in 2009 at the earliest.
Now here's my concern: What if MSP platform providers (N-able, Kaseya, Level Platforms and the list goes on) run out of cash before they're able to (A) raise more money or (B) launch IPOs? I've seen hot industries implode because vendors couldn't get their hands on cash. And since those companies are privately held, it's impossible for outsiders to fully examine their financial health.
In reality, my fears appear unfounded. Kaseya CEO Gerald Blackie told me in June that his company was self-funded, had no debt and required no outside investors at that time. Instead of answering to angel investors and venture capitalists, Blackie answers to himself and internal peers. He likes it that way.
The situation appears similar at N-able. During our conversation, Garbutt smiled multiple times when he described N-able's success as a self-funded company. He also made it clear that N-able doesn't need to pursue an IPO right now. But don't be fooled. Garbutt's body language and his resume tell me that N-able will pursue an IPO at some point. His public bio reads:
N-able is the fourth successful start-up where Mr. Garbutt has been a founding executive. Mr. Garbutt has been involved in all aspects of corporate strategy, restructuring and corporate finance, including equity and debt financing for private and public companies in Canada, the U.S. and Europe.When will the MSP platform IPOs begin? I don't know. But I'll keep asking the question every time I meet Blackie, Garbutt and other top industry executives.