Liongard Hires Service Provider Experts to Scale MSP Automation, Visibility Initiatives
Question: How do you climb a massive mountain that few people have attempted to scale? Answer: Find and hire the absolute best mountain guides — the rare experts who’ve already been to the summit multiple times.
That’s the strategy at Liongard, a fast-growing startup that’s defining a new segment in the MSP software market. (More on that in a minute.)
Liongard’s founding team has extensive MSP market experience. And recent executive hires and advisors have worked for some of the most successful service provider and software companies in and around the MSP sector. Many of the team members and advisors have been to the “top” of the MSP market, as well as the software market that serves those MSPs.
Indeed, Liongard’s executive team now includes:
- Founder and CEO Joe Alapat, a veteran of MSP ownership.
- Founder and COO Vincent Tran, also a service provider veteran.
- VP of Managed Services Strategy Shawn Sailer, an MSP and financial services veteran.
- Chief Revenue Officer Adam Slutskin, a ConnectWise veteran who drove sales ahead of Thoma Bravo‘s buyout of that firm.
- CFO Josh Tabin, a veteran of Rackspace (a Top 200 Public Cloud MSP), RigNet (a Top 100 Vertical Market MSP) and big telco service providers.
Poke around a little bit more, and you’ll find senior leaders (Casey Higgins and Mark Sokol, formerly of ConnectWise) and boardroom members (Paul Chisholm, formerly of mindSHIFT) assisting with the business growth, partner enablement and plenty more.
Liongard’s Latest Executive Hire: CFO Josh Tabin
CFO Josh Tabin is the latest executive arrival, officially joining the company full-time as CFO a few weeks ago. Still, Tabin certainly isn’t new to the company. Indeed, Tabin has consulted for the startup for the past three years or so — helping to align Liongard’s financial plan with its business model and recurring revenue activities.
The result: Unlike so many software startups that pivot and stumble awkwardly into the MSP partner market, Liongard’s financial model was built — from Day One — to engage and support service providers.
“I’ve known this team for a long time,” Tabin tells ChannelE2E. “It’s a great team and a great business model with great technology. When Joe [Alapat] and Vin [Tran] spoke with me pre-product, we all knew a SaaS-based model was the way to go.”
Fast forward to present day. Tabin lands in the CFO seat with a firm grip on Liongard’s financial model, near-term priorities and long-term goals.
Among Tabin’s key focus areas: Making sure the company has adequate capital to ensure the company’s “continued phenomenal growth.” With the SaaS model, he notes, the more successful you are, the more working capital you require.
Liongard raised $4.5 million in Series A funding in May 2019, and key financial backers include Rackspace Founder Richard Yoo. As an early stage, capital-intensive business, Liongard is always interested in raising money — especially to stay ahead of any aspiring rivals that may enter the market, Tabin says.
Liongard won’t say if or when a Series B round may arrive, but ChannelE2E suspects it will be sometime this year. Investor interest in the business appears strong. Multiple venture capital firms and individual investors have contacted ChannelE2E, seeking background on the company’s market position and growth.
Liongard’s MSP Software: What Does Roar Do?
Breaking into the MSP software market — and defining a new segment — is no small feat. Many MSPs are drowning in tool overload and software sprawl. Instead of taking on more tools, many MSPs are looking to consolidate their platforms to control costs and simplify their IT service management (ITSM) help desks.
Most MSPs in the SMB sector typically leverage RMM (remote monitoring and management), PSA (professional services automation), BDR (backup and disaster recovery), security and documentation software. They weave those tools together to automate, scale, and monetize their businesses while protecting customer systems.
Liongard is a slightly different beast that doesn’t quite fit into any one of those established MSP technology categories. Instead, the company’s Roar software allows MSPs to discover, document, detect and assess customers’ cloud, network and on-premises environments. More than an automation tool, Liongard also delivers visibility — which allows MSPs to better manage their own profit margins while more effectively managing customer systems, Tabin says.
Sort of Like Splunk: In some ways, Liongard is for MSPs the way Splunk is for enterprise IT professionals and security experts, ChannelE2E asserts. Indeed, Splunk doesn’t fit into any single product category since it’s widely popular for SIEM (security information and event management), AIOps (artificial intelligence for IT operations), application management, log management and analysis, and plenty more.
Similarly, Liongard’s MSP customer base continually finds new use cases for the software — though three of the killer use cases are (1) automated documentation, (2) actionable alerting and (3) change notifications.
Anecdotal evidence suggests MSPs are flocking to Liongard. For instance, the company’s MSP base expanded to roughly 700 partners at the end of 2019 — up sharply from 100 in 2018, the company says.
Liongard Roar: Technology Integrations
To further accelerate that momentum, Liongard has been busy building MSP software integrations, strategic alliances, and distribution deals. Key integrations include:
- ConnectWise Manage, BrightGauge and IT Boost;
- IT Glue documentation from Kaseya;
- Autotask PSA from Datto; and
- (coming soon) Passportal MSP password management from SolarWinds MSP.
Liongard also integrates with various cloud, SaaS and cybersecurity platforms — everything from Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services to Cisco Meraki and Umbrella; SonicWall; OpenText’s Webroot and more.
Among the latest moves: A new relationship with D&H Distributing, a provider of SMB and consumer technologies to the North American high-tech channel. D&H sees Liongard as a key way for MSPs to move deeper into the XaaS (anything and everything as a service) economy, according to a prepared statement from Jason Bystrak, D&H’s vice president, Cloud Business Unit.
The D&H relationship is particularly timely and telling. Bystrak and the D&H team have spent the past year or so vetting and selecting key SaaS and IT management tools to further accelerate the distributor’s cloud business while also striving to differentiate from Ingram Micro Cloud and Pax8, among other potential cloud distribution options. The Liongard relationship is the latest piece in D&H’s strategic cloud services puzzle.
Liongard: Next Moves
So where does Liongard go from here? Now that the company has gained critical mass as an MSP software provider, Liongard expects potential “me too” rivals to emerge in the market. To keep the momentum going and stay ahead of potential rivals, Tabin says he and the team are focused on some big priorities. A few of them include:
- Partner education and internal education — making sure the company is aligning its resources in the most proactive, professional, efficient way to scale software development and create value for MSPs.
- Ensuring MSPs understand Liongard Roar’s use cases beyond automation. The platform also gives MSPs visibility into customer systems — to help partners understand and optimize the key metrics that will improve their performance. “Liongard is so much more than an automation story,” Tabin asserts.
- Simplified partner consumption — including sales channels that have a more online touch.
- Hiring, retaining and empowering the right people.
“Our continued success comes down to execution, and execution requires the right people,” Tabin notes. “We’ve got a great pipeline of candidates, and we’ve already got a great culture. [CEO] Joe [Alapat] is the steward of that culture.”
Admittedly, it’s difficult for ChannelE2E to pinpoint Liongard’s overall performance since privately held startups generally don’t disclose revenue or profit figures.
Still, the anecdotal evidence — partner base growth, integrations, hires, and boardroom advisors — suggests the company truly is climbing a new mountain in the MSP software market. And a growing number of partners are joining the journey.