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Storage Provider PiKNiK Nabs Channel Vet Michael Fair as CRO

PiKNiK will be going mostly channel, providing opportunities for agents and MSPs.

Edward Gately

November 3, 2021

6 Min Read
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CHANNEL PARTNERS CONFERENCE & EXPO — Channel vet Michael Fair, previously with Fusion Connect and Spectrum, has taken the role of chief revenue officer at storage provider PiKNiK.

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PikNik’s Michael Fair

PikNik is the largest storage provider in North American for Filecoin, a distributed storage provider based on blockchain and cryptocurrency. Fair will be building out PiKNiK’s channel initiative.

Fair previously was Fusion Connect’s senior vice president of channels and alliances. He left that role in March.

Before that, he was vice president of channel alliances and national accounts at Spectrum. Moreover, he led partner programs at EarthLink and Qwest.

PiKNiK was founded in October 2020. This past February, it expanded its compute cluster and storage network into a data center footprint.

In a Q&A with Channel Futures, Fair talks about how channel will play a big role in PiKNiK’s future business.

Channel Futures: Why did you want to take this role with PiKNiK?

Michael Fair: I’ve been doing consulting for the past six seven months and been spending time in CCaaS, cybersecurity and then in what I’m calling this Web 3.0 infrastructure, which is based on emerging technologies that are decentralized versus centralized. And I kind of bumped into Filecoin, which is the currency behind Protocol Labs. And PiKNiK is the largest service provider in North America utilizing that technology.

CF: Is this role a departure for you from a technology aspect and what you’re doing?

MF: It’s kind of an expanded role as chief revenue officer. We’re going to be majority, if not entirely channel oriented, so selling through distribution channels. We’ll be selling through colocation providers and MSPs, as well as agents. There’s also kind of a dual channel strategy through multiple avenues to get to the end users. So that’s really the goal right now. So I’ve got full revenue responsibility as a global responsibility as well.

CF: Is channel now part of PiKNiK’s go to market, or will you be introducing that?

MF: It’s a very nascent technology right now so it’s a startup company. But it’s a very well-funded startup company. Its initial customers have mostly been like university archives, very deep backup storage, kind of in lieu of tape backup or … cloud storage. So the initial sales have been direct. With me coming on board, I’m going to be really focusing on a channel-only strategy going forward. It really has no direct salesforce. It’s really the CEO selling a couple of the largest original deals, but it’s really going to be a channel strategy.

CF: What kinds of opportunities will there be for the different partner types?

MF: For agents, it’s an immediate opportunity to bring their storage customers onto the PiKNiK infrastructure. That’ll be the first real target, agents that have university customers.

MSPs or colocation providers that sell storage today have an opportunity to adopt the Filecoin infrastructure and participate from that perspective. Think about this as the Uber or Airbnb of storage. It’s a decentralized capability that already is extremely disruptive. And much like other infrastructure type plays that are based on …

… blockchain technology, it’s going to really disrupt the traditional service provider world as we know it. So that’s what’s really exciting about this.

CF: What’s at the top of your to-do list now?

MF: I’m learning the technology. It’s a distributed architecture, which is very different. It’s open source versus proprietary like the big cloud providers. PiKNiK, in my mind, is going to be the go-to, pure-play storage provider for the channel. I did a lot of research on this because I had an original consulting engagement with Protocol Labs, which is the venture organization behind the Filecoin protocol and … found there’s really not a go-to provider today. If you look at the big cloud providers that provide storage, like Amazon, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud … your average agent has no direct access to those technologies. They have to go through what are mostly regional MSPs to get access to that. And those providers don’t have channel partners. So there’s really a missing hole in the market.

You’ve got some very large providers like an AT&T or the big data center providers that sell storage, but storage is not their main focus. It’s mostly selling racks in colocation space and bandwidth. So I really see PiKNiK as being the go-to, pure-play service provider for storage going forward.

CF: Is PiKNiK well known? Will part of your job be raising its profile?

MF: It’s not well known in the United States. They are the largest in North America of the service providers for the Filecoin infrastructure. Protocol Labs is the venture and the technology behind the blockchain and the cryptocurrency that’s fueling a lot of the economics. For some reason, even though Protocol Labs is based in the United States, most of the initial service providers are based in China and Asia. So PiKNiK is really the leading provider in North America. The goal is just to educate people on the technology, educate people on the capabilities of PiKNiK and look for customers to bring onto the network.

CF: Can we expect to see a lot of growth and expansion from PikNik?

MF: I think we really will. Storage is just exploding in the requirements of customers to have not only their primary data services, but also quality backups. If you look at services like AWS for example, it’s a proprietary infrastructure, so you have to pay in a lot of money to just have your data stored with AWS or one of the other cloud peers. It also costs a lot of money to get your data back out of that infrastructure. So the ingress and egress services costs are extremely high. PiKNiK is about one-tenth of the total cost of storing your data with one of those large cloud providers today. And so it’s materially disruptive due to the decentralized nature of the services.

The services are also based on open-source architectures, so there’s a whole world of over 8,000 developers around the world that are developing code to lay on top of this Filecoin infrastructure. And PiKNiK is one of those developers as well. So it’s really a key play to continue to develop on the intellectual property and develop applications on top of the infrastructure, various portal applications, and ways of accessing data and manipulating data, and things like that, all the really interesting and cool applications that will be the result of this being a decentralized infrastructure, versus a proprietary infrastructure that partners and customers have to deal with today.

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About the Author(s)

Edward Gately

Senior News Editor, Channel Futures

As news editor, Edward Gately covers cybersecurity, new channel programs and program changes, M&A and other IT channel trends. Prior to Informa, he spent 26 years as a newspaper journalist in Texas, Louisiana and Arizona.

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