After a lengthy search, Datto recently hired Oracle storage veteran Robert (Bob) Petrocelli as chief technology officer.
Petrocelli, also a seasoned entrepreneur, joins Datto at a key time. The MSP-centric technology company, owned by private equity firm Vista Equity Partners, has expanded beyond its data protection roots to offer networking, wireless, business management and automation software.
The journey from "backup" company to full-blown MSP technology provider involved multiple acquisitions -- such as Backupify (2014), Open Mesh (2017) and Autotask (finalized in early 2018). Moreover, the CEO role transitioned from founder Austin McChord to Tim Weller.
Datto has spent recent years integrating all of its home-grown and acquired products together. What additional R&D know-how will Petrocelli bring to the table? ChannelE2E reached out to Datto's new CTO for some quick thoughts on his role at the company. Here's the interview, conducted over email.
ChannelE2E: When did you first hear about the CTO opportunity, and what attracted you to Datto?
Petrocelli: I was actually an employee referral. A great engineer who had worked with me at both of my startups recommended me for the job. That’s probably the best compliment I could hope to receive from a colleague. Datto is in a unique position; it transcends its technology in terms of its uniqueness. Austin created an ecosystem within the whole MSP community and now we are seeing the company move to be a perfect size with great leadership. Tim is the right person at the helm and I feel like this is an opportunity of a lifetime/career. I’m really excited to dig in.
ChannelE2E: Like many of Datto’s MSP partners, you’ve launched and built your own businesses. What were your biggest learnings during your own entrepreneurial journeys, and how will those learnings influence the way you build technologies for MSPs?
Petrocelli: The most enduring lesson I have learned on my own journey has been that real success is only possible when we work to solve real human-felt problems. This translates into building technology for our MSP partners that simplifies rather than complicates their work-lives and that guides them towards best practice and helps keep them from harm.
ChannelE2E: What are your first priorities for the first few weeks at Datto?
Petrocelli: Over these first few weeks my main priority has been to get to know all of the engineers in the different offices. I’m looking to discover the right processes for the company and culture. As we get larger and the number of engineers heads north of 500 we are going to have to hone our communication and maintain our culture, which recognizes high performers. This must continue in a way that is fair and predictable.
ChannelE2E: Much of your background involves storage. But Datto also has business management and networking solutions for MSPs. Will you focus your time equally across all the product lines, or delegate certain focus areas to other Datto executives and leaders?
Petrocelli: I’m obviously personally very passionate about infrastructure and data storage. However a successful technology leader must trust and engage others to act as force multipliers. I will cultivate domain expertise from within and recruit people who share Datto’s passion for great technology and even greater user experience.
End of interview.
More Thoughts: Datto Technology Strategy
Petrocelli will need to keep Datto's R&D moving at a rapid pace. Although the company has a strong brand and following across the MSP channel, competition from private equity-backed rivals remains strong.
Head-on IT management rivals typically include ConnectWise, Continuum, Kaseya and SolarWinds. But a range of well-funded data protection companies -- namely Cohesity, Druva, Rubrik and Veeam -- are also growing rapidly. Plus, dozens of business continuity, backup and disaster recovery software companies continue to work in and around the MSP market.
Much of Datto's near-term technology strategy surfaced at the DattoCon19 conference in San Diego. But it's safe to expect some more technology surprises at the DattoCon 2019 Paris conference for October.
From there, Petrocelli will have an opportunity to truly put his fingerprints on Datto's technology and longer-term roadmap -- perhaps delivering some more surprises in time for DattoCon20 -- scheduled for June 2020 in Atlanta, Georgia.
We'll be watching to see how Petrocelli builds out Datto's technology portfolio -- both organically, and perhaps through some M&A surprises.