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MSP Software Unicorn NinjaOne Taps ConnectWise, Liongard Veteran Adam Slutskin

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NinjaOne -- the MSP software industry's latest unicorn, ChannelE2E believes -- has tapped ConnectWise and Liongard veteran Adam Slutskin as chief channel advisor. The official announcement about Slutskin arrived today, though chatter about the move has swirled for weeks.

Indeed, NinjaOne CEO Sal Sferlazza surfaced with Slutskin in April for business meetings in Tampa, Florida. Their work together comes at a key time for NinjaOne, MSP partners and the broader channel ecosystem that stretches from small businesses to mid-market and enterprise clientele.

Before NinjaOne: Sal and Adam's Career Journeys

Adam Slutskin, CRO, CyberFox
Adam Slutskin, chief channel advisor, NinjaOne

Sal Sferlazza, CEO, NinjaOne

The backdrop: The overall MSP ecosystem remains in growth mode -- expanding roughly 8% to 12% annually, depending on which research firm you believe. But even as the market expands, it is witnessing rapid consolidation. Indeed, ChannelE2E has tracked nearly 2,000 M&A deals since 2020 -- including Kaseya's recent announcement to acquire Datto.

Where does NinjaOne fit into all this growth and consolidation -- and why is Slutskin aligning with the software company? The back-story is rather interesting. NinjaOne CEO Sal Sferlazza and new Chief Channel Advisor Adam Slutskin have known each other for more than a decade.

  • Before NinjaOne, Sferlazza launched, built and sold multiple MSP-oriented software companies. Names like Anchor (acquired by Axcient predecessor eFolder in 2013) and PacketTrap (acquired in 2009 by Quest Software then Dell) come to mind.
  • Meanwhile, Slutskin played a key role in extending ConnectWise from PSA (professional services automation) toward RMM (remote monitoring and management) with ConnectWise's LabTech investment in 2010 that ultimately became an M&A deal. By the time Slutskin exited ConnectWise as chief revenue officer (CRO) in 2017, the company was one of the MSP software industry's early unicorns -- privately held and valued at more than $1 billion.

Dig a little deeper, and you'll notice that both Sferlazza (an Accenture veteran) and Slutskin (a CA Technologies veteran) also have enterprise software experience.

NinjaOne: Extending From SMB-MSP to Enterprise Channel Partners

Meanwhile, NinjaOne has gradually extended from an RMM software provider into an expansive IT operations platform -- designed for MSPs and corporate IT departments. Instead of selling the software directly to those IT departments, NinjaOne Chief Revenue Officer Dean Yeck has rapidly built and expanded a network of channel partners, VARs and IT consulting firms.

The unified platform -- one dashboard for all IT services -- gained cloud-based backup and disaster recovery software in 2020, and Ninja Ticketing for MSPs and IT support help desks in the past year or so. Take a look at the company’s overall business strategy, and the NinjaOne software platform is designed to support such function as:

  • IT asset management
  • Endpoint monitoring and management
  • Patch Management
  • IT Documentation
  • Software Development
  • Remote Access
  • Service desk capabilities
  • Backup, disaster recovery (BDR) and data protection services

The NinjaOne code is all home-grown rather than acquired, and more feature capabilities are on the way. In some ways, NinjaOne may ultimately compete against ServiceNow as a midmarket platform for co-managed services, ChannelE2E believes. And in the MSP software market, core rivals remain ConnectWise, Datto, Kaseya and N-able, along with such upstarts as Atera, and Syncro.

NinjaOne: Sal and Adam Share Similar Visions

While many of NinjaOne's rivals are backed by private equity firms, NinjaOne remains backed by venture capital dollars -- including a $30 million minority investment from Summit Partners in 2020. Translation? Sferlazza ultimately controls NinjaOne's destiny.

David Bellini, CEO,
Liongard CEO Joe Alapat

In some ways, I think Sferlazza regrets selling some of his earlier businesses too soon -- though he's never told me that directly. Alas, Dell ultimately shut down the PacketTrap business -- which was growing nicely and poised to extend from RMM to PSA around the time of Dell's exit from the market. Fast forward to present day, and Sferlazza quietly but firmly controls NinjaOne's direction. Instead of pounding his chest and shouting from the rooftops about NinjaOne's momentum, Sferlazza doubles down on R&D to further ride -- and shape -- IT automation trends.

In contrast Slutskin, is a dollars-and-cents guy whole deeply understands the math behind successful MSP software sales, partner programs, go-to-market activities and profit models -- regardless of business size or scale.

The upshot? Sferlazza, Slutskin and the broader NinjaOne team appear to have the experience to extend NinjaOne -- through partners -- deeper into mid-market and enterprise end-customer accounts. The NinjaOne team also has MSP industry DNA that so many software entrepreneurs and next-stage investors sometimes lack.

Unicorn Builder & MSP Software Angel Investor: Instead of running away from his roots, Slutskin continually returns to them. As Chief Revenue Officer at Liongard, he helped CEO Joe Alapat to scale that fast-growth, end-to-end visibility business beyond 2,000 MSPs in recent years.

Moreover, Slutskin has partnered with ConnectWise Co-Founder and former President David Bellini on multiple MSP software startups and various angel investments. Take a closer look, and you'll see that Bellini and Slutskin have built an MSP software incubator in Tampa, Florida. Among their recent moves: Acquiring and building Password Boss -- a password management platform for MSPs -- and tucking AutoElevate into that business.

NinjaOne: MSP Software Unicorn's Next Moves

At NinjaOne, Slutskin’s first priorities will be to "evaluate NinjaOne’s current sales engagement strategy in the MSP channel and work with sales leadership to optimize team structure and execute new strategies." The effort will maintain a channel-friendly approach, NinjaOne asserts.

Even before Slutskin arrives, NinjaOne has momentum. The company now has more than 430 employees, and supports more than 7,000 customers and 3 million end-points.

Poke around Silicon Valley, and there are rumors that NinjaOne now has a valuation of roughly $1.5 billion, I suspect, and a potential path to IPO (initial public offering). But you didn't hear that from me. Stay tuned...

Joe Panettieri

Joe Panettieri is co-founder & editorial director of MSSP Alert and ChannelE2E, the two leading news & analysis sites for managed service providers in the cybersecurity market.