Former CEO Asaf Ganot takes over the product strategy lead role while also becoming chairman, in what both he and Ayres term a leadership partnership to drive the company to new heights.
LAS VEGAS – At the VMware Explore event here, where Digital Employee Experience [DEX] provider ControlUp had a highly visible presence with the large booth that comes with a Platinum sponsorship, the company announced the appointment of former IGEL CEO Jed Ayres as ControlUp’s new CEO. Asaf Ganot, who of the company’s founders, who had been in the CEO role previously, now takes on both the product strategy lead role and the full-time executive chairman position.
“Up to this point, the company’s growth has all been product led,” Ganot told ChannelBuzz. “Its original growth spurt started when a blog went up on Citrix from one of their sales engineers, and it went viral. The product was that good. Our product-led growth model has expanded our business, but we needed more brain power and more experience in the U.S., and we were missing a strong U.S. headquarters. Jed checks all those boxes, and has tons of connections to all the relevant people in the industry. The company needs someone like that, who can complement my capabilities and take the company to the next stage.”
Ganot said that ControlUp has both the capability to grow its business fast and the funds to acquire additional assets if and when this makes sense.
“The company has been doing very well,” he stated. “We have sold a lot. We took a Series D round of over $100 million a year and a half ago. We have been guarding it jealously, but we do have it, so when we see a good opportunity for investment we can take it with both hands.”
Shows like VMware Explore and Citrix Synergy when it existed have always been a major spur to ControlUp’s business.
“These shows have always been a good investment for us,” Ganot said. “Others show videos. We show live demos of the product.”
Ayres, who had previously been at AppSense before its acquisition by LANDesk, en route to being reconstituted at Ivanti, went to IGEL as President and CEO of IGEL North America, in a move announced at Citrix Synergy at, ironically, the same Las Vegas venue where his ControlUp announcement took place. He quickly rose to CEO of the entire German-led company. Ayres had telegraphed several weeks back on LinkedIn that he would be taking a new CEO appointment, and the date was clearly timed to the VMware event.
With 1800 customers and over 5 million seats under management, ControlUp is certainly better known than IGEL was when he arrived there, but Ayres acknowledged there is still uncertainty around exactly what DEX is and how it fits into the software stack.
“There are a lot of definitions with DEX, and it is still very much in flux,” he said. “I’m a marketer at heart and I can see how we can replace a lot of disparate point solutions in shadowing and inventory. I handle the business side of that. Asaf gets to focus to building the platform. So the leadership of the company is really a partnership between us.”
“DEX is still not a well-defined market,” Ganot added. “Having a good experience score without a good security score right next to it isn’t worth very much.”
Security will be one of the priority areas moving forward.
“A year from now, we want everyone to know what DEX is,” Ayres said. “We see transformation in consolidating different point solutions. In security, we will do something, so keep your eyes out here.”
Changes are also coming on the channel front.
“We have had partners, both fulfilment ones, and ones who source the customers,” Ganot said. “Up until today, we were a hybrid model. One thing that Jed brings is much more reliance on the channel and becoming a channel-first company.”
“Great VDI partners have always realized the power of this product, but until now, our strategy there has been nascent and opportunistic,” Ayres said. “We want to invest in a few key knowledgeable partners. We are not big enough to boil the ocean, so we just want to pick the key players. We will start by holding a partner council, to hear what’s important to them.”
Other key elements of the channel strategy are also being developed.
“We will craft a channel program that will launch in early 2024,” Ayres said. “We also need to have a broadline distributor in the U.S. who can elevate our business in North America.”
The channel program will be built under the direction of Tom Holland, formerly Senior Vice President of Americas Sales and Services at Citrix, who has been appointed as Chief Revenue Officer.
“He was at Citrix for 16 years, and succeeded with four different CROs there,” Ayres said. “His last role was running their North American book of enterprise business. Tom comes with the highest recommendations.”