ConnectWise aims to exploit Autotask sale

ConnectWise CEO Arnie Bellini

ConnectWise CEO Arnie Bellini

ConnectWise is setting itself up as a haven of stability and innovation among the professional services automation (PSA) vendors, and an attractive home to Autotask users who may want to defect now that the company is under private equity ownership.

ConnectWise CEO Arnie Bellini tells Channelnomics that his company, and its family of satellite vendors, are debt free and growing. And, because they’re wholly owned, they are in command of their own destiny unlike Autotask, which now must face the governance of its private equity owners, Vista Equity Partners.

“Under a large private equity firm, I’d be concerned about losing focus and losing people,” Bellini said.

Autotask announced the intended acquisition by Vista. The terms of the deal were not disclosed. Few people were surprised by the acquisition, as it’s been long rumored that Autotask was on the verge of being acquired. And, it’s widely known that CEO Mark Cattini, who was installed as the company’s leader in 2011, was giving the mission of turning over the company.

Among the faithful of IT Nation, the solution provider community formed around ConnectWise, Bellini is seen as a soothsayer, promoting businesses to build stronger operations and healthier bottom lines. He sees the tools provided by ConnectWise’s PSA platform and the products of its sister companies – LabTech for remote monitoring and management and Quosal for sales quoting – as a means to the end of better business.

The tools are one thing, but ConnectWise has built a larger than life image. Many ConnectWise users believe the company is significantly larger than its true sum revenues, mostly because Bellini and his team produce lavish events and shower users MSPs with support and community activities. This is where Bellini believes ConnectWise has an advantage over Autotask and its new ownership: Operating independence.

“Private equity ownership kills creativity and winning ideas,” Bellini says. He goes on to explain that the ConnectWise management team can act quicker and creatively to changing market dynamics and partnership needs than Autotask because they do not have to seek the approval of the underwriters.

The private equity ownership isn’t necessarily the bad thing Bellini paints it. In fact, ConnectWise has its own venture arm – ConnectWise Capital – which has invested heavily in companies such as LabTech, Quosal and CharTec.

ConnectWise Capital’s approach to investment, Belline says, is not the same as what’s happening at Autotask. The strategy is to incorporate companies into the fabric of the ConnectWise family, enhancing products and value to users, he explains.

To be fair to Autotask and the investment model, many companies have taken on venture capital and private equity funding and ownership to facilitate growth and operating improvements. Most of the successful technology companies started as venture-backed organizations. In the managed services segment, companies such as Continuum and Kaseya are  largely owned by private equity firms, which supply the capital for developing products and go-to-market strategies.

To capitalize on the change in Autotask ownership change, ConnectWise is stepping up competitive displacement efforts. Bellini says ConnectWise is already picking up to 10 Autotask users a month. To accelerate the defection process, ConnectWise is offering Autotask users preferred pricing and support.

Autotask doesn’t take the speculation about its future lightly. When announcing the acquisition, Cattini said the infusion of funds will go toward expanding the business and supporting users.

“We are devoted to our clients’ ongoing success and are confident that our partnership with Vista will drive innovation and growth and deliver dynamic solutions as the traditional IT landscape evolves,” Cattini said in the acquisition announcement.

This article originally appeared on Channelnomics.