Rumors about Thoma Bravo potentially selling Continuum have swirled for about two months or so, according to ChannelE2E sources. For a brief time, there were also rumors that Thoma Bravo would combine its Continuum and ConnectWise investments into a single company — but ConnectWise Co-Founder Arnie Bellini denied those rumors to ChannelE2E in February 2019.
It’s important to keep potential rumor sources and potential motivations for the chatter in mind. Plenty of misinformation has been swirling around the MSP technology market in recent months, as vendors attempt to solidify their own installed bases while striving to take market share from rivals.
Still, ChannelE2E suspects there’s at least some truth to the Thoma Bravo-Continuum rumors in terms of the private equity firm evaluating near- and longer-term options for the MSP platform provider.
What Makes Continuum Managed Services Unique?
Thoma Bravo acquired Continuum from Summit Partners in June 2017. Generally speaking, Continuum competes with ConnectWise, Datto, Kaseya, SolarWinds MSP and a range of NOC (network operations center), SOC (security operations center) and MSP-focused platform providers.
Continuum has some clear points of differentiation. Instead of selling software platforms to MSPs, the company promotes more of an outsourced IT services model. Continuum runs and manages RMM (remote monitoring and management), NOC, SOC, BDR (backup and disaster recovery) and other services for MSPs. The MSPs, in turn, can focus on sales and marketing activities to win SMB customers, instead of aggressive technical and service desk hiring, George has previously stated. Research from Service Leadership Inc. finds that the Continuum business model can be more profitable than rival models for MSPs.
George has led Continuum ever since the company spun off from the former Zenith Infotech in 2011. He successfully stabilized the business, hired a range of enterprise-class executives, and led the company to considerable growth in recent years — though we don’t have exact figures. Overall, Continuum likely serves 5,000 to 10,000 MSPs, ChannelE2E estimates. Conventional wisdom says many of those MSPs are smaller companies. But if you poke around the Continuum installed base, you’ll see some massive managed print and office equipment companies such as Sharp Business Systems in the mix.
Continuum’s recent acquisitions include BrightGauge (MSP business intelligence and reporting software) of Miami, Florida. Earlier deals included Carvir (managed security) in Atlanta and R1Soft (backup and disaster recovery) in Houston.
George spent most of 2018 evangelizing managed security services as an urgent need for MSPs, positioning Continuum’s SOC and various security services as natural options for the company’s ecosystem. No doubt, most MSPs are making security a major priority. But many are struggling with business, financial and technology models.
A business intelligence and artificial intelligence push also is expected. Indeed, the company’s cloud-based services coupled with NOC and SOC data provides a unique opportunity to leverage AI for a new generation of MSP services, ChannelE2E believes.