The rumor mill is particularly active tonight. The tip: A couple of trusted sources suggest ConnectWise Capital has made its third investment. The alleged partner: Quosal, a popular quoting software and proposal system for VARs and MSPs. The move, if true, could allow ConnectWise CEO Arnie Bellini to reinforce and extend his "modern office" vision. The potential ConnectWise Capital-Quosal relationship also would set up some interesting competitive showdowns in the MSP software market.
Let's start with the basics, for those who haven't been keeping score over the past 18 months.
- ConnectWise Capital is the investment arm of ConnectWise, maker of the popular PSA (professional services automation) software platform. ConnectWise Capital's first two investments were CharTec (hardware as a service and backup/disaster recovery) and LabTech Software (remote monitoring and management).
- Quosal describes itself as an "all-in-one software platform" that allows VARs and MSPs to prepare quotes and proposals for customer engagements. It's available as a desktop application or as a SaaS solution.
Bigger PictureNow, let's connect the dots between each of the ConnectWise Capital investments. If the pieces above truly fall into place you can imagine the following scenario:
- Source products and speed customer proposals (Quosal);
- Include hardware as a service (HaaS) as part of the IT proposal (CharTec);
- Remotely manage each component of the deployed IT solution (LabTech); and
- manage staff time, trouble tickets, marketing, CRM and other services for each of those IT projects and managed services (ConnectWise)
Competing and CooperatingIn the meantime, there's the competitive landscape to consider.
Quosal competes with QuoteWerks and, in some ways, Autotask's VARStreet and CNet Channel Online. ConnectWise already integrates with Quosal, QuoteWerks and CNet Channel Online. If the ConnectWise Capital-Quosal relationship turns out to be true, it's a safe bet that ConnectWise will reinforce its commitment to open APIs.
It's a familiar strategy. When ConnectWise Capital invested in LabTech, ConnectWise promised to maintain open APIs for continued integration with LabTech rivals. Reinforcing that point, ConnectWise recently introduced a new integration for Kaseya (a LabTech competitor).
Larger Showdown?Meanwhile, keep an eye on the Autotask Community Live conference (May 22-24, Miami). Quosal and QuoteWerks are both listed as sponsors for the event, despite potential competition with Autotask's VARStreet business. But I wonder if the alleged ConnectWise Capital-Quosal relationship will trigger any adjustments to the Autotask Community Live sponsorship lineup.
Bottom LineAssuming the ConnectWise Capital-Quosal relationship is true (it better be, since my reputation is at stake here...), it's clear that the lines between IT product sales and managed services continue to blur.
On the one hand, Autotask and VARStreet strive to give VARs and MSPs a one-stop company for product sourcing and IT services management.
But on the other hand, ConnectWise CEO Arnie Bellini has been banging the drum for a "modern office" strategy in recent months. That strategy calls for VARs and MSPs to grab hold to all IT infrastructure within small businesses, while managing the infrastructure and related IT projects remotely. Quosal would seem to fit into that strategy...