Observability startup Cribl posting strong partner momentum

In the last year, Cribl built out much of its channels team and saw large increases in partner bookings, which they expect to increase this year with a new channel program ready to roll out,

Zac Kilpatrick,Vice President of Global Channels, Cribl

San Francisco-based open observability startup Cribl has announced the results of their fiscal year. Their overall numbers were excellent. Cribl’s annual recurring revenue more than tripled. They also doubled their customer base, which now includes 24 of the Fortune 100 companies and 59 of the Fortune 500. Cribl also grew the company by more than 200 team members, so that they head into 2023 with nearly 500 employees. It was also a big year for Cribl on the channel side. Their Go-to-Market model is a partner-first one, with their direct touch sales team collaborating with the partners on sales. The channel infrastructure was comparatively underdeveloped, however, which is why Zac Kilpatrick was brought in from Okta in August 2021 to the newly created position of  Vice President of Global Channels.

Kilpatrick’s job was to enable channel partners to drive more sales, and in the slightly longer term, to remake the company’s bare-bones channel program to help make this happen.

“We hired a team of global people,” Kilpatrick told ChannelBuzz. “We didn’t have any at the start of last year. I was the first. Now we have Partner Business Managers as well as Technology Managers. We hired a team of global people. I now have nine people working for me. We just hired someone for EMEA, who will help us a little in APAC as well, and we will do more to expand the team outside the US.”

The number of channel partners has also grown significantly, although the focus remains on quality rather than quantity.

“Last year, we onboarded 37% more partners, going from 149 to 204,” Kilpatrick said. “When I joined the company, it was 89. At that time, we didn’t have the ability to help them become fully self-service enabled. We don’t need to have more partners in North America. We need them to be better enabled and offer higher value.”

Kilpatrick noted that partner bookings increased last year by 146%, with partner sourced bookings increasing by over 200%.

“As much business is now being brought in by partners as is being generated by us,” he said. “I have not seen that before in a startup.”

Technology alliances are an important part of Cribl’s Go-to-Market. They announced their integration with Amazon Security Lake and achieved AWS Security Competency status. They also announced a partnership with SentinelOne to help customers unlock the value of all observability data.

“We already have many technology alliances on the integration front,” Kilpatrick said. “We have been building these tech alliances for the last nine months and some are coming to fruition this year. We will have some important announcements in the next few months.”

Kilpatrick has authority over the Go-to-Market mechanism for these strategic relationships.

“Once we start to develop them, I take over them,” he said. “When I was at Okta, we had started doing that and it had done well. People doing business development are not always the best people for driving the business through the channel.”

The changes to the channel program will be formally codified this week.

“This week we are launching a revised partner program as well as a new portal,” he said.

He noted that MSSPs are an important part of that partner program.

“We are working with MSSPs and most partners we work with would call themselves MDR providers,” he said. “That business is growing. We are a perfect fit for them. They have been buying from us, as if they were customers.”

One of key parts of the program has already been put in place. The Cribl Certified Observability Engineer (CCOE) program is a first-of-its-kind free technical certification program. To date, more than 1,800 credentials have been issued.

“A big attraction of the CCOE is that it is free,” Kilpatrick said. “Every company I have ever been at has had a charge for certifications. We see greater value, as a 100% channel first company, in having more certified partners with a higher level of skill to sell to customers more effectively.”

Kilpatrick said they have done a tremendous job with the new partner program.

“There will be a program guide defining how they can be a partner,  and what’s  specifically in it for them, all written into a guide,” he stated. “With the new program and portal, we are taking things that has been on a handshake basis and codifying them. The idea is also to make it lean, avoiding things like checkmark certifications.”