New ConnectWise CEO sends message to market at IT Nation Explore event

CEOs typically give messaging around their vision and high-level strategy at major customer and partner events, but for new ConnectWise CEO, at his first Explore since replacing long-time leader Arnie Bellini, this task was especially important.

ConnectWise CEO Jason Magee onstage

ORLANDO – Jason Magee, who was promoted to the ConnectWise CEO three months ago, with longtime company leader Arnie Bellini moving to a senior advisor position, took the stage at the company’s Explore partner conference here with a clear plan to emphasize continuity in strategy despite the change at the top and ConnectWise’s purchase in February by private equity firm Thoma Bravo.

Magee showed the 1370 attendees at the keynote a slide indicating the current ConnectWise leadership and their average tenure of seven years in leadership roles with the company. That did not include Bellini, still on the roster as a senior advisor, whose long service would have moved the number by himself. Magee himself is on the upper end of that continuum, with eight years at ConnectWise, most recently as the COO.

“It is the same names and the same faces that got us here today,” he emphasized. “It’s the team that will continue to get us to where we will be for the next ten years. With ConnectWise, it’s all about the team. With some other companies the faces and names are more likely to change, and that is not the case here. There will be continuity.”

Since taking the CEO role in March, the strategy has been a straightforward one. “The plan for the first 90 days was to make sure that the company leaders and colleagues would remain focused, and not go off track,” Magee said. “The second part was to execute on our four pillars of strategy, including starting to establish ConnectWise in the cybersecurity space, which we have done. The final component we are working on has been the ‘what’s next’ part. That will be made public around the time of our IT Nation Connect event in October or November.

The four pillars of strategy was also company strategy under Bellini, and Magee structured his keynote around them. The four pillars are: customer success; the as-a- service platform, the ecosystem and cybersecurity. None of these is new, and all should be familiar to regular attendees of ConnectWise events

The emphasis attached to customer success emphasis has been stepped up, however, with the ability to implement it having been made more proactive with some organizational changes, including the move of Craig Fulton to the newly created position of Chief Customer Officer.

“We are implementing a customer success focus throughout ConnectWise, Magee said in his keynote.

Magee also emphasized the stability of ConnectWise’s commitment to the as-a-service platform.

“We will continue to invest in it, enhance it, build upon it, firm it up – based on things you ask us to do,” he said. “We are also working with Thoma Bravo to make additional investments in platform, products and people.”

While ConnectWise has made acquisitions, most recently the Sienna Group late last year, it has been less aggressive there than its competitors have been in the recent past, with Datto, SolarWinds and especially Kaseya buying up specialty solution vendors left and right.

“There’s a balance between acquisitions and organic development,” he said. “The  great thing with Thoma Bravo is that we can make investments in both directions. We are marketing sure that with our as-a-Service platform and our current products that we can make investments to benefit our partners. We will be making additional internal investments, to help our partners as well as prospects looking to make a transition or add a component of managed services to their solution provider business.

Magee noted an irony in a number of the companies that had been purchased by competitors.

“These were companies who built their business on ConnectWise and IT Nation, which makes their acquisition more intriguing,” he said. He also noted the relationship of the flurry of independent companies disappearing to ConnectWise’s third pillar, the emphasis on their ecosystem.

“We still see the ecosystem flourishing and thriving,” he said. “We have talked about this for the last few years. We are the leaders in the connected ecosystem. We do not want to do it all by ourselves. ‘Buy it all from us’ is not our approach, We will double down with vendors who want to do things responsibly, and we will  continue to do it in an automated frictionless fashion for everyone. We will continue to make it easer to do business with us.”

Having the financial muscle of Thoma Bravo behind them does give them more muscle though as far as acquisitions go.

“There will be points in time to look at some of these companies that were built upon our platform, and that’s when we will take a look at something,” Magee indicated. “There is always lots of innovation. A company like IT Glue innovated in the documentation space. Another company like Liongard solved a gap in that same space. There are things that we have identified as important, and we go through an internal process to determine whether we should build, buy or partner. The difference with Thoma Bravo is that it gives us the capability to do more to get speed to market, like our competitors.”

Magee emphasized in concluding that his core message was simple.

“For our partners, whether they are the ones here at Explore today, or those who are not, for prospective partners, and potential MSPs, ConnectWise is still that partner who is dedicated and committed to their success. We will continue to focus on eliminating their siloes of chaos so they can survive and thrive in this on- demand world.”