Channel partner events

Beer, Wine and Backup, Backup

Rewind to 1993. Tom Hanks was Sleepless in Seattle. And Tommy Wald was Backup, Backup in Austin, Texas. Ah, those were the days.

Jeannine Edwards
Jeannine Edwards
Tommy Wald

During a rather colorful dinner tonight with Wald and Jeannine 'Main Stage' Edwards here in Orlando, we recalled simpler times in the IT channel -- the early 1990s. It was an era when hardware delivered margins, and 'hybrid IT' meant Wald drove backups between customer offices, his reseller storefront, and a portable safe hidden somewhere in a physical filing cabinet.

First, the Serious Stuff: Wald currently is CEO of Xcellerate, an MSP accelerator. As most modern-day MSPs know, Wald built and sold multiple IT service providers in recent years. Among the secrets to his success, ChannelE2E learned this evening: Wald is a trained accountant. The guy has always known his numbers -- which means he always knew his company profit margins and potential valuations. That know-how treated Wald well as he built Riata Technologies (1993-2010). White Glove acquired that business in 2010. Wald stuck around, and then mindSHIFT acquired White Glove in 2012. Most MSPs crave one successful exit in a lifetime. Wald had two in two years.

Now, the Comic Relief: Sometime this evening between appetizers, the main course, and three rounds of drinks, we learned Wald's true background. His first company in the early 1990's was actually called "Backup, Backup." As a result, he was known as "Tommy, Tommy" in his hometown of Austin, Austin, Texas. At the time, parallel ports were all the rage. And Tommy had a knack for tapping into those ports to safeguard customer data.

As the trip down memory lane unfolded here tonight, we received impromptu visits from multiple Ingram Micro TrustX Alliance members. Among our favorite unscheduled dinner guests was "Steve, Steve" -- an MSP from Wisconsin who had never heard of Jeannine Edwards... until he realized this was the Jeannine Edwards.

The line of the night from Steve, Steve:

"Wait a minute... you're Main Stage Jeannine?"

Yes, the very Jeannine who ran IT Nation during the ConnectWise conference's early days. For a few minutes this evening, it almost felt like a book signing appearance for Edwards. Only, Jeannine didn't have a book to sign.

Hey, Aren't You... Our next impromptu guest was Ingram's Kirk Robinson, not to be confused with former New York Jets Quarterback Matt Robinson. One Robinson roots for the Jets but watches them lose. The other Robinson played for the Jets and caused them to lose.

The good news here? Kirk has a winning track record in the IT channel. We spoke at length earlier today about some of the financial programs Ingram has built for partners. I'll share more details sometime on Thursday.

In the meantime, most of tonight's dinner was about...

  • Tommy, Tommy's experience building Backup, Backup -- perhaps the world's first BDR (Backup and Disaster Recovery) partner;
  • Main Stage Edwards re-emerging as customer experience officer at Xcellerate;
  • Steve, Steve stopping by for autographs; and
  • Kirk, Kirk politely dealing with the lunacy of it all.

As for me? I just needed to keep track of what was on the record (everything above) and what was off (mum's the word). PS: Come to think of it, I think Marie Meoli of Whitefox PR stopped by, too. ... Yada, yada, yada... I seem to recall that was all off the record. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

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.