Continuum, led by CEO Michael George, recently wrapped up successful MSP (managed IT services) conferences in Pittsburgh and Las Vegas. The platform provider now supports more than 6,000 MSPs. And if you believe the rumor mill, some very big next moves could be imminent.
To truly appreciate Continuum's current market position, you need to rewind to the company's challenging birth in 2011. The business was born when Summit Partners (a private equity firm) acquired RMM (remote monitoring and management) and NOC (network operations center) assets from Zenith Infotech. Around the time of the deal, Zenith Infotech defaulted on a bond payment, and that company ultimately wound down in 2014.
In terms of perception, the Zenith Infotech fallout could have tarnished and perhaps even sunk Continuum — which was known as Zenith RMM at the time. Skeptics could have painted a “guilty by association” picture as Zenith Infotech imploded. Instead, the newly installed Zenith RMM management team in 2011 focused on a corporate rebranding (i.e., Continuum) and endless road trips to meet the company’s MSP base.
During my conversations with Michael George at the time, he could sense my skepticism. I openly wondered: Did the world really need another RMM company — especially one that was led by enterprise-class executives rather than SMB entrepreneurs? Fast forward to the present and most readers know I've eaten crow.
Continuum Management, Staff Save the Ship
Michael George and the Continuum management team — culled from companies like Citi, IBM,OATSystems and Sallie Mae — brought discipline to the business and its far-flung operations, including key offices in Pittsburgh, Pa.; Boston, Mass; and India.
George demanded a repeatable, scalable approach to software and services delivery. This quote from famed author Douglas Adams best expresses how Continuum has executed under George's leadership for almost a decade: “I love deadlines. I love the whooshing noise they make as they go by.”
The journey has involved organic growth coupled with M&A, including:
- 2014: Continuum acquired R1 soft for BDR (backup and disaster recovery).
- 2017: Thoma Bravo acquired Continuum from Summit Partners.
- 2018: Continuum acquired CARVIR for SOCaaS (Security Operations Center as a Service).
- 2019: Continuum acquired BrightGauge for MSP business intelligence.
Continuum Executive Leadership Evolves, Succeeds
Amid the business journey, Continuum's executive team has scaled and evolved to now include:
- John Mandel, senior VP of engineering
- Fielder Hiss, VP of product
- Geoffrey Willison, CFO
- Tasos Tsolakis, senior VP of global service delivery
- Tina McNulty, VP of marketing
- Robert Kocis, chief revenue officer
- Ai-Li Lim, senior VP of human resources
- Steve Cardillo, VP of corporate development.
Those leaders, and many of the Continuum executives who served the company this past decade, paved the way for the company to offer MSPs such services as:
- Continuum Command: For RMM.
- Fortify: For security.
- Recover: For backup, disaster recovery (BDR) and business continuity services.
- Assist: A service rollup that leverages Continuum’s NOC, SOC and help desk services.
- Enable: For MSP training, certification and sales coaching.
That's right: Instead of just developing software, Continuum connected all that automation code to its help desk, NOC and SOC services -- essentially allowing MSP customers to focus on sales, marketing and other business-building activities.
Continuum Challenges and Opportunities
Sources suggest the business is in solid shape heading into 2020. Still, I believe Continuum's MSP security initiative has faced multiple challenges over the past year or two.
Indeed, Continuum and the broader industry have been working overtime to make security easier for MSPs to manage and monetize, and easier for MSP end-customers to consume. With those goals in mind, Continuum has partnered closely with such security companies as Fortinet, Netsurion, SentinelOne and Webroot.
There are signs of progress -- such as a Continuum's new SOC in Pittsburgh -- but many MSPs are still struggling to formulate and activate their cyber strategies.
Continuum's Next Move?
In recent months, ChannelE2E has reported that Continuum may be for sale -- with ConnectWise as a potential buyer (see items 3 and 7 here). If true, perhaps the deal will surface this week at the ConnectWise IT Nation 2019 conference in Orlando, Florida.
What do I think? George was remarkably relaxed during the company's recent conference in Pittsburgh. During a conversation with me at that event, we spoke extensively about life, family and personal legacies. I'm not sure why, but I didn't poke and prod about potential merger scenarios. I sensed that George had achieved a certain type of peace or clarity -- perhaps in life, perhaps in business, perhaps across both.
Whether the M&A rumors are true or false, Continuum's business journey -- and George's personal journey -- have been rather remarkable. When time permits, I hope to describe more of his personal journey in the weeks or months ahead.
In the meantime, maybe we'll get more details about the Continuum journey at this week's ConnectWise IT Nation. I'm set to be on-site for the conference. Perhaps Michael George will be there, too...
Note: This article originally posted 7:46 p.m. ET on Sunday, October 27, 2019.