Content, Channel partner programs, Channel partners, MSP

Catching Up With Rob Rae, Pax8’s Newest VP

Change, choices, credit: olaser via Getty stock photos

Everybody knows by now that Rob Rae has surfaced at Pax8, a Colorado-based company with about 1,500 employees. Pax8 runs a cloud-based marketplace that allows MSPs and channel partners to source various SaaS applications and business services.

Rae made his reappearance last week as Pax8's Corporate Vice President of Communities and Ecosystems. It's been several months since he exited Datto following Kaseya’s acquisition. Datto, of course, was a giant in the MSP market with its roots in the backup and disaster recovery space.

Rae is a longtime MSP advocate. He spent years at Datto from its early BDR days through its acquisitions of other vendors, technology expansions, and eventual IPO. Before Datto, Rae helped build Level Platforms, a remote monitoring and management (RMM) vendor that was acquired by AVG Technologies in 2013.

Rob Rae
Rob Rae

So where has Rae been all this time? What’s he been doing? What’s he been thinking about?

In Rae’s case, taking a few months away from the day-to-day work life has provided some time to reflect about his time in the industry, what he wants from his new job, and it also gave him some more time to spend with his family.

Why Pax8?

It comes down to the following three things, according to Rae:

  1. Executive commitment to the MSP market and people/culture
  2. A commitment to technology innovation
  3. Reputation in the market

“I want to be able to go into an organization and feel like there’s an organized executive team that has mutual two-way trust. If you take a look at their C-level execs, they just clicked so well as a team, and it was just something I wanted to be a part of.”

As far as technology, Rae said:
“I want to see a company that is constantly going to be moving forward and innovating and thinking in places where nobody else is.”

Goals at Pax8?

“I’m not coming in and replacing anybody. I’m not inheriting a team,” Rae said, although at some point, he may be building out his own team. His initial focus will be to expand the products and programs and services that Pax8 has already been running and add his experience to the mix.

“They’ve been growing rapidly and it’s really hard. We experienced this firsthand at Datto. It was really hard to continue to maintain the voice of the partner, the voice of the community, as you grow that quickly and you are bringing in people from outside the MSP channel or even outside the IT channel. It’s critical we do that in the short term.”

Rae said he has a couple of short-term goals. One is putting together Pax8’s first user conference, which will be at the Gaylord Rockies Resort & Convention Center, June 11-13, 2023. He is also looking to help Pax8 in markets beyond the United States.

So how did Rob Rae get to this point in his career?

Level Platforms and Datto's Early Days

Rae: “Back in the day, we were all just trying to define what an MSP was. We were trying to get more attention on the MSP as a business model and get away from the resale and the product hardware sales and more into the services aspect of it … There were a lot of us that were really, really passionate about the MSP space and getting it to where it was today.”

Back then, “It was trying to convince everybody of a business model, but then you fast forward to today. We’ve got MSP vendors publicly traded. We’ve got private equity and VCs not just investing in vendors but also investing in the actual MSPs themselves. It’s been an incredible ride from a career perspective.”

What’s Rae Been Up to Since the Kaseya Exit?

“I’ve worked every day of my life since I was 13 years old. I was terrified to be without a job. I think it goes back to having Boomer parents. They went through some pretty significant recessions and being without a job was probably the most terrifying thing that could happen. But it’s not much like that anymore. Not only that, but the outreach that I had – I knew there was significant opportunity, even with what was going to happen with the economy, the markets, layoffs, all those things.”

Rae took the opportunity to reflect on the next path, help his wife expand her business, and take his daughter on college tours. All the while, he was looking at where he would surface next.

“I think initially I was thinking, OK, let’s go find a new product, a new company that’s up and coming, or something like that.”

“But it ended up being; honestly, I probably had about 25 to 30 different opportunities all within the MSP space that were all very serious. I took a serious look and tried to figure out which route I wanted to take.”

The possibilities included jumping back into the familiar – perhaps at another backup and disaster recovery (BDR) vendor. Or joining a security vendor and potentially getting in at the ground floor of one of the companies looking at the MSP market. He also looked at potentially doing consulting work for VCs or private equity firms.

In the end, Rob Rae chose Pax8 in a new role created just for him. It will be interesting to watch where Rae takes Pax8 in the months to come.

Jessica C. Davis

Jessica C. Davis is editorial director of CyberRisk Alliance’s channel brands, MSSP Alert, MSSP Alert Live, and ChannelE2E. She has spent a career as a journalist and editor covering the intersection of business and technology including chips, software, the cloud, AI, and cybersecurity. She previously served as editor in chief of Channel Insider and later of MSP Mentor where she was one of the original editors running the MSP 501.