Channel chiefs, Channel partner programs, MSP, Content

WatchGuard SVP Michelle Welch Outlines Next MSP Security Partnership Moves

Question answer bubble icon isolated on special blue banner background abstract illustration
Sandy Gill, Venture
Sandy Gill, managing director, Vector Capital
Michelle Welch

WatchGuard Technologies will soon have a new -- but familiar -- majority owner, and the security company has vowed to maintain its focus on security-minded MSP partners.

The big-picture news: Private equity firm Vector Capital is acquiring majority ownership of WatchGuard from Francisco Partners and other co-investors, the companies disclosed on April 27, 2022. Vector and Francisco Partners have previously co-owned WatchGuard for more than a decade.

Dig a little deeper, and WatchGuard's familiar MSP partner strategy will remain firmly in place. The evidence comes from multiple sources. On the ownership side, Vector Capital Managing Director Sandy Gill said:

“MSPs represent the future of security delivery, but to be successful, they need a bespoke platform built for their needs. WatchGuard is uniquely positioned to lead the market in enabling those MSPs with its Unified Security Platform. We are excited to further invest both organically and via acquisitions in the company’s mission to deliver security-focused MSPs one vendor, one platform, and one vision to build their business upon.”

WatchGuard Senior VP Michelle Welch: The Interview

Meanwhile, that MSP-centric partner focus remains in place within the WatchGuard business. In an email interview with ChannelE2E, WatchGuard Senior VP of Marketing and Channel Michelle Welch shared these perspectives on the ownership change and partner strategy.

ChannelE2E: Is WatchGuard adequately funded to continue both organic growth and potential acquisitions under Vector Capital's majority ownership?

Welch: Yes. Vector Capital views WatchGuard as a compelling new investment opportunity and is both rolling their current stake and committing significant new equity. As the majority owner, Vector Capital is well-positioned to immediately accelerate WatchGuard’s growth.

Its new investment in WatchGuard will impact two key areas:

  • First, by driving organic investment to accelerate our roadmap; and
  • second, through M&A to expand WatchGuard’s scale and Unified Security Platform capabilities.

More specifically that means increased investment into cloud transformation, secure access service edge (SASE), extended detection and response (XDR), managed detection and response (MDR), and continued innovation in security automation and simplification for MSPs, among other areas.

ChannelE2E: What do you consider WatchGuard’s top accomplishments or milestones from Q1 2022?

Welch: Announcing our partnership with Pax8 was a significant milestone, giving MSPs in North America access to WatchGuard’s industry leading security platform through Pax8.

(Note: Pax8 is fast-growing cloud marketplace for MSPs, that's now backed by venture capitalist Softbank at a $1.7 billion valuation, ChannelE2E previously reported.)

ChannelE2E: What are your core priorities for WatchGuard for the rest of 2022?

Welch: Our team has an aggressive roadmap designed to drive product innovation and partner enablement with our Unified Security Platform through 2022 and beyond, and we look forward to sharing more once the transaction closes.

ChannelE2E: How do those core WatchGuard priorities align with MSPs’ security and business needs?

Welch: Today, our Unified Security Platform enables more than 17,000 MSPs to protect the environments, users, and networks of more than 250,000 businesses worldwide. We already give partners a competitive advantage with our unique partner-first, Unified Security Platform approach for security. This new investment means even more platform innovation and continued investment in our partner support and enablement mechanisms, while continuing to expand our portfolio of services. All of which leads to a better experience and more revenue opportunities for our partners.

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.