Malwarebytes' Mike LaPeters: Convergence, Unity Fuel New Channel Strategy

More than 50% of Malwarebytes' revenue is generated through the channel.

Edward Gately, Senior News Editor

September 27, 2019

10 Min Read

Malwarebytes, the developer of endpoint protection and remediation solutions, plans to roll out a new, unified partner program and channel strategy that emphasizes convergence and opportunities for managed services.

That’s according to Mike LaPeters, who left AT&T Cybersecurity nearly two months ago to head up channels at Malwarebytes as vice president of worldwide MSP and channel operations.

LaPeters is part of Channel Partners’ Top Gun 51, which recognizes a new generation of channel executives, those who build and execute programs in a way that drives partner, customer and supplier success. The Top Gun 51 were recognized at Channel Partners Evolution in Washington, D.C.

Malwarebytes’ team of researchers and security experts provide protection to more than 60,000 businesses and millions of people globally, combating more than 8.8 million threats daily using AI and machine learning.


Malwarebytes’ Mike LaPeters

In a Q&A with Channel Futures, LaPeters talks about what partners can expect to see in the coming months leading up to Malwarebytes’ fiscal 2021.

Channel Futures: What have you been up to since joining Malwarebytes?

Mike LaPeters: It’s been about seven weeks now since I joined and my goal was to sink my teeth into two different sides of the business. The first is the MSP side. Obviously with the fact that MSP is in my title means that’s going to be a focused component of my business. The second side is … really understanding how we go to market globally with our partner communities. So my focus has been on a couple of things. First is really bringing together all the disparate ways we go to market and help our customers be secure, and bringing them all into one umbrella approach to the customer community.

Here’s the challenge that I think we face in today’s world: The lines are blurring between partner types. So resellers are all exploring the idea of offering technology as a service — so service providers. Technicians are looking at it and saying, “How do I move into the services space? Or do I just resell product?” Distributors are acting as aggregators or classic distributors. And resellers are building out strategic relationships. So one of the biggest things I’m focused on now is ensuring that our partner programs are able to address partners in whatever way they feel they need to support their customer community, so really globalization and integration of our partner programs.

The second thing I’m working on right now … is the MSP space. We have launched in the MSP world a product called OneView. That’s a really solid, centralized view of how the customers are leveraging the Malwarebytes technology through the partner. But what we haven’t done is we haven’t globalized our program and also added in some of those benefits that you get for engaging with us building out your customer base. So we’re really building in some of that requirement-based and benefit-based programmatic structure around this program.

And the third thing I’m working on is built around enablement. We have uncovered a lot of area that we can grow in helping our partners be successful. So it’s more than just teaching them how to leverage Malwarebytes to help their customers be secure, but it’s about …

… security in general. It’s about really understanding how to weave together a solid security story on how you’re going to keep your customers secure.

So those are the three areas that I’ve been spending my time on over the last seven weeks, putting this all together. And we’re coming very close on being ready to really roll out new programs and new strategies.

CP: So to clarify, there are multiple partner programs now geared toward individual partners types and there’s going to be one new, unified program that includes convergence?

ML: It’s all convergence. The concept that we’ve been working on here is removing the focus on a particular partner type because those types have blurred so much. So the focus on our part is making sure that we have the right enablement, resources, benefits and requirements for whatever is the easiest and most effective way for that partner to reach their customer. You can engage with your customer in whatever way is the best way for them to be able to be secure. That’s probably one of the biggest pieces, is the whole thought around convergence.

The other thing is the globalization of our program. Today, each one of those partner types — we have an EMEA version, an APAC version and an American version of that. So we’re bringing that all together and we are going to have one program that you engage with us with and that program will ensure that we’ve got all the right resources and benefits, and things to make sure you can be successful.

CP: Is there still a lot of work to be done before rolling out the new program?

ML: There’s still a ton of work to be done. But we are going to be piecing out these additions to the program, these additions to our enablement. All these things are going to be coming out over the next four to six months. Endgame for us I would say, as we look at RSA … that’s a real milestone event for us to say that we’re going to be in a very different spot from programs, structure and how we engage on the global stage. We have this path that we’re on right now to really enter our fiscal 2021, which starts Feb. 1, with as much of all these things with i’s dotted and t’s crossed.

CP: What will all of this unification and convergence mean in terms of competitive advantage for Malwarebyptes and its partners?

ML: There are a couple of things that will set us apart. No. 1, our ability to engage with customers on so many different fronts and in so many different ways, so it’s not just about the old definition of antivirus or even this new next-gen anti-malware kind of approach. With our ability to do incident response and remediation, our technology almost immediately gives …

… most partners a leg up over everyone else because of the fact that that’s built in to how we provide value to our customers. But if we take and layer on top of that our ability to engage however the customer wants to, I think that that’s one strong component of it, and then I’m only going to tease a little bit of this because we still have a lot of finalization left to do, but when we release the partner program in its final stage where we’ve got all of our new features and all of our new benefits that we’re coming out with, I think we’re going to be in an incredibly differentiated position, especially as it relates to partner education, enablement and maturity or sophistication around security.

CP: What sort of feedback have you been hearing from partners during this past seven weeks and is that playing a big role in shaping all of your plans?

ML: I’ve met with almost 50 partners in the last seven weeks, and I’ve discussed what our strategy is, what our direction is. I’ve understood what their challenges are, not just working with us, but working with all vendors working in the security space, and this is absolutely what’s defining our new programs, our new strategy and how we’re going forward. If the partners are not engaged and don’t view that the direction you’re moving in will help them be more successful, then I think we’re all wasting our time. They’re ratifying it, they’re suggesting, and in some cases when we go with ideas, they’re shooting them down and saying that’s just not important.

CP: How is your previous experience with AlienVault and then AT&T Cybersecurity coming into play as far as what you’re doing now with Malwarebytes?

ML: I’ve been attached or associated with channels for about 30 years and I’ve been working in one way or another my entire career with indirect channels, and a lot of that has been in architecting and building out programs. For me, the biggest impact that AlienVault really has had on what I’m doing today is the hyperfocus that I had on the managed services space as opposed to traditional channels. With AlienVault/AT&T Cybersecurity, the significant component of the engagement strategy there was built around working with managed security services, so the MSSPs. The programs we put together, the engagements we did, the key learnings that I pulled away from that four years engaged there really is helping set the stage for how we’re engaging with the partner communities here. There’s some similarity; however, it’s a different part of the discussion. The USM solution that AlienVault provides is security information and event management (SIEM); it’s more of the advanced security versus looking at Malwarebytes, which is more of an endpoint discussion. But the thought around enablement, around building effective and powerful service offerings, these things apply with very little translation in the Malwarebytes space as much as they apply to anywhere else.

CP: Is Malwarebytes in growth mode? If so, what role are partners playing in that role?

ML: We are absolutely in growth mode on all fronts. At the macro level, we have our consumer business that is in growth mode, and then we also have our business market, which is also in significant growth mode, and that’s on all different segments. The area that we as an organization feel has one of the highest potentials for growth right now is …

… the managed services space. If you look at the evolution of security, if you look at the fact that what made you secure yesterday is not keeping you secure today, with how challenging and difficult it is to be secure in today’s world, it’s screaming for managed security providers. It is absolutely begging for a specialist that can focus solely on security, that will be able to help businesses. There’s no reason why a business needs to build a huge security staff to keep current when MSPs or MSSPs can do it for them. So Malwarebytes gets that and the focus that we’re placing on product development, marketing and investment in channels is all leaning toward the expectations that MSP is going to be a huge contributor to the acceleration of Malwarebytes‘ growth.

CP: What percentage of Malwarebytes’ revenue is coming from the channel, and are there plans to increase that?

ML: Well over 50% is going through the channel, but I would say, especially with the addition of acceleration through MSP, we expect that to grow. There’s expectation of significant growth that’s going to be delivered because of our engagement with the MSP channels. When I look at this and say the opportunity for us to have accelerated growth is probably more on the MSP side than the MSSP side, the only reason why is there’s so much fewer MSSPs than there is MSPs. If you’re looking at percentage of penetration, if we did 1% penetration into both markets, our MSP count would crush the MSSP accounts because the numbers are so skewed. Arguably there are 5,000-7,000 MSSPs in the world, and that’s if you’re very generous on your definition, whereas you look at MSPs and there’s probably 300,000-400,000 just in North America. So it’s a very different market opportunity, but it doesn’t change that fact that we’re still focused on both. MSSPs need to be able to provide the benefit of the technology we provide. So we’re going to continue to work with them and then MSPs are dipping their toe in the security water and we are an excellent technology platform to leverage as they’re experimenting in the security space.

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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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