N-able, the first company acquired by SolarWinds when they created their MSP division now formally re-emerges as a separate company, which is confident that it can go farther, faster, on its own.
On Tuesday, N-able formally spun-off from SolarWinds, trading on the NYSE separately as NABL. And while the company’s stock was down on the first day when the market opened, and never made that up, they are confident that over the long haul, they will be better positioned to address the specific needs of the MSP marketplace.
“I think it will be a different in giving us a better ability to focus on customers, and giving us more freedom to do what we want,” said Mike Cullen, N-able‘s group vice president of partner enablement, who was also N-able’s head of sales when the then Ottawa-based company was acquired by SolarWinds back in 2013.
“As part of SolarWinds, we’ve been living to the quarterly report standard already for the past seven years, so there is nothing new here now,” Cullen said. “We believe in the transparency of the company. The financial viability of a platform supplier is really important, so we want our numbers out there publicly.”
That 2013 acquisition was part of the first major wave of RMM acquisitions, coming alongside the much less successful acquisition of N-able’s neighbor company in Ottawa, Level Platforms, by AVG, and Kaseya’s acquisition by a deep-pocketed VC firm. N-able was not the sole foundation of SolarWinds MSP. In 2016, SolarWinds also acquired LogicNow, and have continued to sell and support the legacy platforms of both N-able and LogicNow. Cullen said that N-able emerged as the logical choice for the name of the spinoff company, however.
“We went through a rigorous process in terms of renaming the company,” he indicated. “We kept coming back to N-able, however, because it matched the vision of what we wanted to do. We were concerned there could have been some issues with the name, but we have gotten great feedback. It has been universally well received, especially in Canada, with the return to our roots with our old name going back 20 years.”
Cullen acknowledged there had always been some market confusion about SolarWinds MSP’s role compared to SolarWinds even though they were MSP-focused while SolarWinds proper sold to IT departments. This became even more complicated after last year’s hack of the SolarWinds Orion software, where some of the business and financial press associated the breach with SolarWinds MSP as well, even though they did not use the Orion software and were not directly impacted.
“The point that we would love to get across is the pure play nature of what we are doing now as N-able, supporting our MSP partners,” Cullen said. “There’s still some confusion in the market there, even though our focus has always been on selling to MSPs.”
On July 12, N-able announced that as part of the spinoff, $225 million would be made available in new investment funds. That’s not all going to stimulate new business. Some of it will be used for a shareholder distribution, and for debt retirement. But some of it will be ploughed directly into improving MSP business.
“We will be able to make new investments as N-able,” Cullen said. “We will put over 100 Partner Success bodies into the market with no quota carry responsibilities. Their sole job will be to help partners find value with our products and our programs.”
Cullen emphasized that like the rest of the RMM industry, N-able is laser-focused on a culture of security.
“Security is becoming ever increasingly important, and is driving the MSP market more than ever,” he said. “We see this as well in some of the new senior hires in the company – a new CISO, and a new CPO with a strong security background. It’s a top area for focus for us.”
Acquisitions are likely under the new company going forward, but Cullen stressed that nothing is imminent, and the entire strategy is still in the process of development.
“We are in the process of forming an acquisition strategy, and security will certainly be a focus, but we have made no decision at this time about any specific company,” he stated.
Finally, Cullen gave a shout-out to the whole N-able ecosystem that brought this day about.
“I would like to thank all our employees who worked so hard for this, and all our partners,” he said. “It’s just a nice opportunity.”