Ivanti Exec Says Despite Direct Sales Shift, Partners Remain Strategic
Ivanti’s plan to shift to a direct sales model for software and renewals of license and maintenance agreements is a controversial move, but one that the company’s new management team believes will be key to growth moving forward. The pivot to direct sales is the consequence of a complete management overall that resulted in Infor founder and former CEO Jim Schaper replacing Steve Daley as Ivanti’s chief executive.
In addition to shifting its go-to-market model starting on April 1, Ivanti is signaling that it is seeking merger and acquisition opportunities with help from its backer, private equity firm Clearlake Capital. While there are numerous new faces in Ivanti’s executive suite, five-year company veteran Mitch Rowe leads global sales for the company as executive vice president. Rowe discussed the new go-to-market strategy with Channel Futures and what it will mean for partners.
Channel Futures: What has precipitated this overhaul?
Mitch Rowe: We’re three years into the life together with Clearlake Capital as the investor, which at the time of the merger with LANDesk, owned Heat Software. When we rebranded into Ivanti, we clearly had some very bullish aspirational expectations of the business. I would suggest we’ve not executed as quickly as they would like in terms of top-line growth. With the addition of Jim Schaper to the business back in September, they saw an opportunity to change some areas. Clearlake is a very responsible investor and they’ve also just raised a new $7 billion fund. Clearlake is still very bullish about Ivanti and sees Ivanti as a platform play with a good structure for bringing on additional M&A activities.
CF: How did that result in the changing of the partner model?
MR: As we merged the companies — and it really was a merger even though the entire executive team came across with LANDesk — there was a consolidation. It was a roll-up play. We were all over the place on the pipeline and on the technology side, so we had to rationalize our go-forward plan. And part of that rationalization plan was getting all partners from Heat and all partners from LANDesk onto one partner program. I would suggest that as we went through that three years ago, we took the approach with partners similarly, as we did with employees and with resellers, which was we wanted to retain everybody. As you know, with a merger and acquisition and certainly a consolidation play, it’s impossible to retain everybody. In fact, it’s not even good business to retain everybody.
CF: In retrospect, was that a mistake?
MR: I’d suggest that we were flawed in our approach on the channel side and I’m the first one to raise my hand. My fingerprints were all over that to get the Heat partners on the same partner program and on the same page as the LANDesk partners. Part of that meant the Heat business was doing renewals directly, while at LANDesk, we were doing renewals through and with partners and resellers. So, I would suggest we either miscalculated or we went in a direction that we later realized we could have done better. We tried to maintain every single partner, but the reality was there were a lot of partners that were still hanging on. They were still doing business with us, but it was more of an opportunistic relationship. It wasn’t strategic for them. It wasn’t strategic for us. And at the end of the day, it wasn’t strategic for some of the customers. So, starting about six months ago, we really started to …