January 18, 2022
Michael Stephens has resigned as global partner channel chief of managed cloud computing vendor Rackspace Technology.
Stephens shared the news with Channel Futures on Tuesday.
“I came to Rackspace five-and-a-half years ago to build a world-class channel program for an industry leader in multicloud,” he told Channel Futures. “I have eclipsed all the goals I set for myself, my team and the program, and now is a great time to step away and go find the next big challenge.”
At this point, we don’t know who Rackspace intends to appoint as Stephens’ successor. The company did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Lisa McLin remains chief of Rackspace’s global channel and alliances program.
Stephens joined Rackspace in 2016 after a 20-year stint at CenturyLink. During his tenure at the San Antonio-based managed cloud computing provider, Stephens continued to build his reputation as an advocate for the indirect channel.
“Team is everything,” Stephens told Channel Futures in 2020 when he was named a Top Gun 51 award recipient. At the time, he served as agent channel chief at Rackspace, working with technology services distributors including Avant Communications and Intelisys.
“Take responsibility and do what you say you are going to do. Lead with empathy and the more you serve others, the more likely success will follow, in my experience. Lastly, I try to focus on recognition. Every opportunity taken to recognize a job well done is so important. Positivity is infectious and people like to know their contributions are appreciated and contribute to the team or company goals,” Stephens said.
Stephens intends to enjoy a short sabbatical before announcing his next career move.
“In the short run I am going to make up for some lost time with the family and then start a deliberate search for that next great thing,” he told Channel Futures. “I have been blessed to work with the best partners on the globe and the best channel team members in our community. The future continues to be bright for our channel partners and I look forward to continuing the amazing relationships that I have formed over the last 27-plus years of my career.”
The Backdrop Against Which Michael Stephens Departs
Stephens leaves as Rackspace recently reported another quarter of solid earnings. The company has had an up-and-down relationship with Wall Street. It first went public in 2008, then turned private when Apollo Global Management bought it in late 2016. Then Rackspace again returned to the stock exchange in 2020, amid soaring cloud computing demand, to disappointing first-day results. By early afternoon on Jan. 18, its stock hovered around $13, a far cry from its $21 IPO share price.
Rackspace’s lower stock prices and higher earnings come about six months after the company shed 10% of its workforce, or about 700 people. There appears to be no connection between any new personnel shifts and Stephens’ departure. Rackspace made the aforementioned cuts to “take full advantage of current market trends, drive significant earnings leverage as revenue continues to grow, and compete even more effectively with other cloud service providers,” CEO Kevin Jones said at the time. “In addition, we are more closely aligning our ‘Rackers’ with next-generation service offerings that offer more compelling growth potential both for them and the company.”
Stephens also departs not long after another high-profile, now-former colleague of his did, as well. Duan Van Der Westhuizen led the Azure practice at Rackspace. In September, he moved to cloud managed services provider Ensono as senior vice president of public cloud.
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