Mergers and Acquisitions

M/C Partners Acquires 2 MSPs: Thrive Networks, Corporate IT Solutions

M/C Partners, a private equity firm, has acquired Thrive Networks and Corporate IT Solutions, creating one of the largest managed services providers (MSPs) in the northeast, the buyer claims. The combined company will be called Thrive Networks, according to a deal confirmation today.

This is the third time Thrive Networks has been acquired in the past decade, including sales to Staples (2007), MetTel (2014) and now M/C Partners. Both Staples and MetTel pursued recurring revenue gold with Thrive, but in both cases the owners underestimated how difficult it is to manage, build and expand an MSP business, ChannelE2E believes.

Somewhere around 2013, Staples even considered buying an RMM (remote monitoring and management) software platform to blend with Thrive, ChannelE2E has heard. But the retail specialist abandoned those exploratory RMM plans and sold Thrive to MetTel. The reason: Staples had its hands full trying to manage its struggling retail store business, and Thrive wasn't core to the overall business. More recently, Staples has been launching white label cloud services for business customers.

Meanwhile, MetTel also considered an MSP rollup strategy involving Thrive, sources say. In 2014, the communications solutions provider nearly purchased at least one more MSP but ultimately abandoned those plans, ChannelE2E has heard.

Now, M/C Partners is looking to restore Thrive's luster. Among the basic needs: Upgrading the company's website to a modern, mobile-friendly responsive design.

Thrive Ownership Knows Managed Services

Among the good pieces of news: Some key names now have skin in the game -- i.e., an ownership stake -- in Thrive Networks. Investors beyond M/C Partners include:

  • Thrive CEO Rob Stephenson, former executive at Access Northeast and Xand. He has has been consulting at Thrive under MetTel’s direction for the past year. Mr. Stephenson will also be an investor and a Board Member.
  • Corporate IT Solutions President & CEO Michael Cook will shift to Thrive as a Managing Partner and Board Member. Cook is an investor in Thrive as well.
  • MetTel also retains an investment stake in Thrive.

In terms of ownership changes, is this time the charm for Thrive? We'll be watching.

More: Track all VAR, MSP and CSP mergers and acquisitions by visiting the ChannelE2E Milestones section daily.

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.