Craig Stilwell, who runs the new SMB and Consumer unit at OpenText, talks with ChannelBuzz about OpenText’s strategy to make its new acquisition a successful one.
OpenText closed its acquisition of Carbonite on December 24 – so you may have missed it. OpenText is looking to emphasize its strategy for the newly-acquired business going forward, however. Acquisitions of SMB-focused firms by enterprise giants have a problematic history in the IT industry, and OpenText has structured the organization of the new assets in a way they believe will reduce risk and maximize effectiveness. They are also reworking the channel program of the acquired assets to increase effectiveness as well, and to limit concerns. And they are indicating that former Carbonite and Webroot partners will see faster product releases, as well as access to solutions from the OpenText side of the house.
Craig Stilwell, Executive Vice President & General Manager SMB and Consumer at OpenText, heads up the new SMB initative. A long-time Citrix exec who rose to the channel chief role there, he left Citrix for the CRO role at Carbonite last summer – just in time to be acquired by OpenText several months later.
“I had a fantastic career at Citrix, and was there for almost 20 years,” Stilwell told ChannelBuzz. “They continue to do great things. But there was a chance to move to an executive leadership team of a public company at Carbonite, so I took that,”
Carbonite was a backup vendor, which was originally in the consumer space, and which, while never abandoning that, pivoted to place the focus of their business on B2B, particularly in the SMB space. They then built on that by acquiring several other backup vendors, eVault, Mozy and DoubleTake. Their strategy became more aggressive – and more interesting – in early 2019, when they acquired Webroot, an endpoint security vendor with an emphasis on the MSP space. The idea was to become a leader in cyber resilience – the integration of backup and endpoint security.
“Putting the two technologies together is cyber resilience, which provides a new capability to stop bad things like ransomware from happening,” Stilwell said. “This is why Carbonite bought Webroot in the first place. And it’s the same opportunity that OpenText saw, which is why they acquired Carbonite.”
OpenText also saw the Carbonite acquisition as expanding their routes to market. OpenText’s channel business has historically been a minority of their sales, but their channel is fairly large, with well over a thousand partners, in a variety of areas from core Enterprise Information Management to others like document delivery software and security that came via acquisitions. It is a fundamentally different channel from the one they have acquired here, however.
“With Webroot, Carbonite had over 36,000 partners, and both Carbonite and Webroot had a robust consumer business as well,” Stilwell noted.
The history of enterprise IT companies expanding deep downmarket into the lower reaches of the SMB space is not one that has been crowned with much success. Stilwell was at Citrix for one of these, the 2011 acquisition of Kaviza and its ‘VDI-in-a-Box’ aimed at smaller businesses. It was a notorious failure at enterprise-focused Citrix, and the product was soon end-of-lifed. Stilwell emphasized however that OpenText has taken an important step to avert this problem, that other vendors making similar moves downmarket did not.
“SMB and consumer is clearly not OpenText’s core competency, but it is something that we want,” he said. “So we created an entire separate division – which I’m the leader of. It is separate from the rest of the OpenText sales machine. Carbonite does have some large enterprise customers, and will move more upmarket now as part of OpenText. But this SMB and Consumer unit is separate, and is 100% focused on our channel partners.”
A major priority for the new unit is the integration of channel programs. That’s not the integration of the Carbonite program into the OpenText program. That won’t happen, because the two channels are so fundamentally different. However, the Carbonite and OpenText channel programs were never integrated at Carbonite because of the short window between the Webroot acquisition and the sale to OpenText.
“When Carbonite acquired Webroot in March, the plan for the first six months was to do no harm, and it wasn’t until the July timeframe that we began working on the integration,” Stilwell noted. “Now, after the OpenText acquisition, we are still very early in the channel integration between the Webroot and Carbonite product lines. We have made them available to purchase from the same site, and the same mechanisms. By summer, we will have consolidated the two programs into one. We will have some of the OpenText products available through that channel as well, as we will have a much broader reach in terms of product portfolio. There are several products that seem to be a natural fit, particularly those security components that can come into our stack. Some of the Carbonite technologies are also a good fit for the enterprise. It will work both ways.”
When Carbonite acquired Webroot, there were some significant concerns from MSPs about what the future would entail. Now that they are all part of OpenText, another vendor that most Webroot MSPs have little firsthand experience with, Stilwell emphasized that the new partner program will be critical in removing fears.
“It’s natural for partners to have a concern, and that’s why it’s essential to build a partner program that’s easy to do business with, and is consistent,” he stressed.
In terms of company operation, Stilwell said that out of the gate, things will be very similar.
“Partners can expect very little disruption,” he said. “They should expect that products will evolve more rapidly going forward. They will also see an increase in the number of solutions, and new products that we are able to offer. We can also now create the combined channel experience we didn’t have the time to do at Carbonite.
“I’m very excited about this,” Stilwell concluded. “It gives us the ability to move faster and create a leadership position around cyber resilience, and I think partners will be excited about that.”