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ConnectWise Executive Leadership: Four New CXOs Named

ConnectWise, led by CEO Jason Magee and backed by private equity firm Thoma Bravo, has added four executives to its c-suite team, and also confirmed two executive departures from the recently acquired Continuum team.

The new additions at ConnectWise, a business automation and IT management software company, include:

  • Chief Operating Officer: Former Continuum CFO Geoffrey Willison shifts to ConnectWise chief operating officer (COO), which ChannelE2E previously reported.
  • Chief Financial Officer: D+H and ADP veteran Brad Surminsky joins as CFO. Surminsky has previously worked with a range of Vista Equity-backed businesses. On a sort-of-related note, Vista owns ConnectWise rival Datto.
  • Chief Revenue Officer: Broadcom and CA Technologies veteran Clint Maddox joins as chief revenue officer (CRO). He’s well-known across the service provider market. Maddox and Magee knew each other during their mutual time at CA, but that wasn’t a factor in Maddox’s hiring at ConnectWise.
  • Chief Technology Officer: Steve Cochran has been named chief technology officer (CTO). Cochran has worked for a range of businesses that underwent digital transformations. He has also built/accelerated successful digital exchanges. Those experiences could bode well for the ConnectWise Marketplace — which is evolving into more of a SaaS distribution system for third-party tools and technologies. Cochran is also well-known to Thoma Bravo’s leadership. His title online briefly mentioned the “interim” moniker at ConnectWise, but there’s no specific timeline for any type of departure, the company says.

ConnectWise Executive Leadership At a Glance

The ConnectWise website now displays these executives on the company’s leadership page…

In a prepared statement about the team, CEO Jason Magee said:

“In late October, ConnectWise announced some transformational moves, including our acquisitions of Continuum and ITBoost, that will position us to become the leading technology and services platform for TSPs. Now, I am excited to announce the leadership structure that will help us execute on that strategy. This is an extraordinary team, one that represents the legacy ConnectWise and Continuum businesses, as well as respected leaders from outside who bring a fresh perspective. With these updates to the team, I am incredibly optimistic about our company going into 2020 and beyond.”

No doubt, ConnectWise and Magee remain firmly focused on technology solutions providers (TSPs) and managed IT services providers (MSPs). But the executive updates also show how private equity firms often tap known leaders from their established talent pools for leadership posts in recent acquisitions.

Also, the updates quietly reinforce co-founder and former CEO Arnie Bellini’s shift to interests outside of the business. The executive page had previously listed Bellini as an advisor since Thoma Bravo acquired ConnectWise in February 2019. That mention is no longer displayed.

ConnectWise Executive Leadership Updates: More Details

The four new CXO executives report to Magee. The rest of the ConnectWise leadership team remains in place — including Chief Product Officer Jeff Bishop, Chief Talent Officer Jennifer Locklear, and Senior Vice President of Marketing Scott Marshall, the company said.

As part of the new organizational structure, Steve Farnan, Senior Vice President of North America Sales, and Gregg Lalle, Senior Vice President of International Sales and Strategy, and the Continuum sales leaders will now report to CRO Clint Maddox. Chief Customer Officer Craig Fulton will now report to COO Geoffrey Willison, ConnectWise said.

Some Departures

In addition, ConnectWise announced the departures of:

  • Robert (Bob) Kocis, who had served as Continuum’s CRO since 2016. Kocis has chosen to move on to a new opportunity at the end of this year.
  • Also, Tasos Tsolakis, Continuum’s senior vice president of global service delivery since 2017, chose to step down from his position earlier this month. Tsolakis’s departure is a bit surprising to ChannelE2E, since he was expected to run NOC, SOC and help desk services under the combined companies. Going forward, his team will report to ConnectWise COO Geoffrey Willison.

In a prepared statement, Magee thanked both Kocis and Tsolakis for their work:

“Both Bob and Tasos played significant roles in Continuum’s success during their tenure. Bob was instrumental in delivering a world class sales organization and partner experience, while Tasos built an enormously successful and scalable services delivery organization that is now positioned for growth and expansion as part of the larger plan with ConnectWise. Their collective efforts have helped set ConnectWise up for future success, and we thank them for their invaluable contributions and wish them nothing but the best.”

The executive  moves outlined above come roughly six weeks after ConnectWise acquired Continuum. Here are additional moves we expect from the company through mid-2020.

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12 Comments

Comments

    Jay McBain:

    I asked this question a year ago but perhaps it bears repeating…

    Should we be asking the Managed Services industry why only 1 of the 14 senior execs at ConnectWise are women? How about Datto, Inc. where only 1 out 17, Kaseya 1 out of top 10, and SolarWinds 1 out of 18? (according to their websites on senior management and board members as of Dec 18, 2019)

    Total of 4 senior women out of 59 slots. Mountains of research show that diverse leaderships teams drive 14% more revenue and 19% more profit.

    #womenintech #glassceiling

    Matthew d Molloy:

    You should rather ask who the most qualified people for the job are. I get that you are calling the IT industry sexist without actually saying it. There are now a lot more women in tech than before, it’s going to take time for them to get the experience to become executive board members. Patience youngling….. Allow them time to grow, learn and manage. Pushing any person in to a position of responsibility before they are ready is just setting them up for failure. Then they get fired and hurt everyone in the company they work for. The process for finding any staff member should always be void of any consideration for sex, color, religion etc.etc. your goal is to find the right person period.

    Joe Panettieri:

    I’ll firmly side with Jay. The MSP market can do better on diversity, though I’m certainly not questioning the qualifications of the executives mentioned in the article above.

    Matt: I think it’s wrong to call for “patience” to allow women “time to grow, learn and manage” — at a time when there are thousands of women who are qualified for the C-suite in the MSP software market. I also think it’s condescending to refer to Jay as a youngling. The guy ran a software business, pioneered much of Lenovo’s SMB/MSP channel before MSP was mainstream, and has the ear of (most) every channel chief on the planet.

    Bottom line: There are women and men who are qualified for these positions. Our group challenge: Look beyond the familiar (i.e., folks we already know) to always seek out the absolute best candidates. Cast a wider net, and you’ll ultimately wind up with some amazing hires and a march toward more diversity.

    In fact, maybe you’ll wind up with something that looks like this.

    Best wishes for all candidates in their climb higher.
    -jp

    Jennifer Anaya:

    Thank you Joe and Jay for your advocacy and excellent perspective.

    Matthew, patience. Really? Our industry has top notch female leaders across many roles and levels, from Channel Chief to CEO. In fact, in looking at the top 33 Fortune 500
    Companies with female CEOs, six are tech companies.

    I speak from experience as a VIce President at a $50B company that embraces women leaders and invites diversity. There are hundreds of female VP’s, SVPs, EVPs and above who could be tapped for a variety of roles. Plus, more women under 40 are becoming entrepreneurs because they feel that they can’t grow and learn as quickly as they’d like to in a larger, corporate environment especially with bias clouding the market.

    It’s not about patience, it’s about having the courage to embrace diversity – and, not just gender diversity – as a strategic advantage. It does take looking beyond your comfort zone and being open to benefitting from the talent around you for what talent they bring.

    Jay McBain:

    Thanks Jennifer – you nailed it. Michelle was flabbergasted by some of the responses online so she penned this incredible piece – https://michelleragusa.blogspot.com/2019/12/the-conscious-and-unconscious-bias.html

    Thomas Fox:

    Joe, I’d like to hear from Jeff Bishop (chief product officer) and Steve Chochran (chief technology officer) on ConnectWise’s plans to diverge their product lines – specifically, separate feature sets for on-premises customers and cloud-based customers. (See: https://www.reddit.com/r/msp/comments/ecduqw/connectwise_onpremises_partners_beware_your/?st=k4cx7p10&sh=a310f61e)

    Tech Experts is a long-time ConnectWise user. We purchased our software before ConnectWise even had a cloud offering and are very happy to keep it running on our own infrastructure. I opt for using my own infrastructure whenever possible.

    Recent developments indicate they are limiting feature development for on-premises installations and focusing their development effort on cloud enhancements (https://product.connectwise.com/communities/4/topics/16785-enable-in-app-pop-ups-for-on-premises-partners).

    I’m certain this is driven by dollars – both on the expense side (you need less developers if you’re only supporting a single platform) and on the income side (they charge more for cloud licenses than long term customers like Tech Experts pays in maintenance costs). This is the mantra of private equity.

    I’d also be interested in Clint Maddox’s (chief revenue officer) take on this. There have been numerous postings on Reddit and various forums that ConnectWise has an internal effort underway to move their perpetually licensed users off on-premises installations and into their cloud. I’ve not personally verified this, but in speaking with my account manager, it was all but acknowledged. Their recent limit on concurrent use, which they have played off as a “security feature” but is clearly a license revenue grab, is another example.

    There are a number of reasons why an MSP would want to run their tools on their own infrastructure. In our case, ConnectWise’s cloud is notoriously slow and has had more outages this year than we’ve experienced on our self-hosted/on-premises installation in the last 12 years. Their security also leaves much to be desired. (https://www.theregister.co.uk/2019/05/13/connectwise_confirms_malware_brought_services_down/)

    Since an MSP’s PSA and RMM tool are the keys to the castle, I am very reluctant to put the security of my systems under ConnectWise’s control.

    The final point I’d like them to address is the lack of transparency. We only found out about the beginning of this diverged feature set because a feature we intended to use was not available in our system. When I asked about it, they said it wasn’t going to be made available to their on-premises partner base. There was no advanced announcement of their intent to start crippling features for on-premises users and no focus group or questionnaire asking how this might impact their users.

    ConnectWise arguably has the best PSA on the market – it would be difficult to run our business without it, and that’s why we’ve been a customer of theirs for so long. They would be wise to respect the commitment their long-term users have made to the platform. We’re the ones that got them to that $1.5 billion valuation.

    Joe Panettieri:

    Hi Thomas: Confirming that I’ve seen your comment. I’m traveling today (Thursday) but will be sure to forward the questions on to ConnectWise and pursue their perspectives.
    -jp

    Jim Willits:

    Following up Thomas’ point, I would like to know why they think it’s acceptable to prioritize the cloud offering in feature set when they, a few months ago, released an update automatically to cloud users that crippled the performance so badly that we have HAD to move to Autotask. I would also like to know why such a severe and widely-known issue seems to be given so little priority, when we contacted our Account Manager they said they were totally unaware of the issue, and there has been no improvement for months.
    If anything, they need to prioritize on-premise installations because they clearly can’t competently support the cloud offering. At this point I’m worried about the Automate RMM tool, if they pull this same stunt there we might have to replace it as well. I’d like to be re-assured at least that they have no such nonsense plans for the Automate RMM.

    Stefan Jansson:

    If CW force us to their cloud for Manage and Automate, we will look for other options and leave. We have been running Mange for 10 years now.

    Chris Chase:

    We will be evaluating if we are forced to cloud or they keep features from on-premise like they just did.

    Michelle:

    I have proudly worked in Technology for the past 15+ years. I am a multi cultural women, child of immigrant grandparents, raised by a single mom. Some might say, the odds were against me… yet, I was the very the first in my family to go to College or work in Tech. I worked for Global IT leader Cisco for 13 years, was Senior Director of Office Depot Tech Services, and am currently VP of JS Group Consulting. I was humbled and delighted to become Chairman of CompTIA’s Advancing Women in Tech Community, A Board Member of CRN Women of the Channel and named by Entrepreneur Magazine as one of the 4 Role Models Who Inspire Girls to Pursue Tech Careers. So understandable, I am extremely passionate about the topic of women and diversity in tech and leadership and have traveled around the country giving countless speeches on this very topic.

    Imagine my shock and awe when I saw the very real and repulsive conscious and unconscious bias which exists in the comments of Jay McBain posts questioning a shortage of women in tech leadership, and the very real advantages which have been statistically proven in countless reputable and documented cases. So let me take my anger, frustration and disappointment out of this while we speak FACTS. The gut decisions on who we hire, promote or invest in is a quick yet crucial period of time. I highly encourage each of you reading to share this article so others might be encouraged to learn and proactively help the cause.

    http://michelleragusa.blogspot.com/2019/12/the-conscious-and-unconscious-bias.html

    Barry Bullard:

    Matthew, I think I misread the intent behind your comment. Something patronizing toward women about telling them to have patience. Can you please explain in greater detail what you mean? Thank you.

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