Many of you heard that ConnectWise acquired Perch Security. Now, if you’re not aware, ConnectWise is owned by private equity firm Thoma Bravo, as is SolarWinds. This is another in a list of channel acquisitions.
The Big Four — Datto, ConnectWise, Kaseya and SolarWinds — continue to acquire additional pieces to build each of their technology stacks. The strategies are clear: Each is building an ecosystem to make it attractive to consume their entire stack. Each vendor is especially focused on building their security offering.
But here’s the question: Is security better in the hands of PE-driven companies? Or does innovation grow in startups run by entrepreneurs? It seems as if startups create the innovation and then the private equity companies acquire it and provide the distribution model.
Will Perch be a better company with ConnectWise? I’m not sure. Will their services become more cost-effective and impact more SMBs and MSPs? Probably. So, ConnectWise acquiring Perch isn't necessarily good or bad. It's just a function of how the channel operates.
If you look at the valuations in the security space, it tells you that the industry understands that it needs to help MSPs solve this growing imbalance between MSPs and imposters. Today, MSPs as a whole are losing the war. In theory, the process makes sense. It's hard for big software companies to innovate because they have to put most dollars into sales and marketing in order to grow. Growing is why they exist. On the other hand, it’s hard for startups to scale. Building a great innovative solution requires a different skillset than building a scalable, go-to-market function.
If you look at all the successes and the failures in the channel over the past 10 years, this theory plays out almost without exception. If you look at the enterprise, you see a much different level of innovation than in the MSP space. It's five years (maybe even in some areas 10 years ahead) with AI-driven products, security solutions and a host of other solutions. The rapid change in the security landscape is pushing the channel to innovate at a pace that it’s not accustomed to.
We need to make sure that we're seeing all these implications, and that we're keeping a perspective on what I would call the macro implications of what's happening quickly in our channel, so that we're prepared to make the best decisions in the future.