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SolarWinds Names CEO, Files for Potential SolarWinds MSP Spin-Out

Credit: Joe Panettieri
John Pagliuca, president, SolarWinds MSP
John Pagliuca, president, SolarWinds MSP
Departing SolarWinds CEO Kevin Thompson
New SolarWinds CEO Sudhakar Ramakrishna

SolarWinds has named a new CEO and filed a form with the SEC to potentially spin out the IT management company's SolarWinds MSP software business. The CEO transition as well as the SEC filing were not surprising, based on earlier SolarWinds disclosures.

On the leadership front, Sudhakar Ramakrishna will succeed Kevin Thompson as SolarWinds president and CEO, effective January 4, 2021. Ramakrishna previously was CEO of Pulse Secure -- which Ivanti recently acquired. Earlier, he was senior VP and GM for Citrix Systems' Enterprise and Service Provider Division.

The SolarWinds CEO transition was expected. Thompson had disclosed the search for his successor in October. At the time, he predicted his successor would be in place for SolarWinds' January 2021 earnings call.

Meanwhile, SolarWinds MSP President John Pagliuca continues to lead that business. If the spin-out happens, Pagliuca and the SolarWinds MSP leadership team will continue to lead the new standalone company.

SolarWinds Next CEO: Executive Perspectives

In a prepared statement about the CEO transition, SolarWinds Chairman Bill Bock said:

“Following an extensive and thorough search, we are delighted to welcome Sudhakar Ramakrishna as SolarWinds’ new CEO as we embark on an exciting new chapter in the company’s history. Sudhakar is a proven leader and has significant experience leading and scaling world-class, global technology organizations. His deep expertise in strategic planning and execution, organizational development and product strategy will be especially beneficial and, when teamed with the seasoned SolarWinds leadership team, will provide strong and experienced executive leadership for the future of SolarWinds."

Bock also thanked Thompson for his "many years of service" to the company.

Added Ramakrishna:

“SolarWinds is at the forefront of enabling customers to manage complex IT environments with simple and integrated solutions. I am honored to have the opportunity to work with the excellent team at SolarWinds to accelerate our focus on customer success, as we deliver solutions to serve the emerging needs of IT, Application and Security professionals even as they adapt to an increasingly hybrid world."

On the financial front, Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPP Investments) has made a $315 million secondary investment in SolarWinds. The deal involves CPP buying an existing stake from private equity firms Silver Lake and Thoma Bravo, and their respective co-investors.

SolarWinds MSP Potential Spin-Out: SEC Filing

Also today, SolarWinds disclosed that it has "confidentially submitted with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) a Form 10 registration statement with respect to the potential spin-off of its managed service provider (MSP) business."

SolarWinds first disclosed the potential MSP business spin-out in August 2020. The potential result: SolarWinds MSP sometime in the first half of 2021 could be a standalone company with a new name and its own stock symbol. If completed, SolarWinds shareholders would own shares of both companies.

In an August 2020 interview about the potential spin off, Thompson and Pagliuca told ChannelE2E:

  • The existing SolarWinds MSP executive team would run the spun-off business.
  • The potential spin-off is not an attempt to sell the business to another buyer or suitor.
  • Existing SolarWinds ownership (including private equity firms Thoma Bravo and Silver Lake, plus $SWI shareholders) would own the spun-off SolarWinds MSP company.
  • SolarWinds MSP would continue to focus purely on MSP partners in the SMB market.

The MSP technology market has been quite busy with financial moves. Rival Datto completed an IPO in October 2020, and Kaseya has been mulling next strategic moves as well. The competition also include ConnectWise, but that company is earlier in its private equity ownership journey and not poised near-term for an IPO, ChannelE2E believes.

Joe Panettieri

Joe Panettieri is co-founder & editorial director of MSSP Alert and ChannelE2E, the two leading news & analysis sites for managed service providers in the cybersecurity market.