Wrapping up a busy day jammed end-to-end with presentations, interviews and meetings, MSP Success Magazine managed to corner Kaseya CEO Fred Voccola to get his take on Kaseya Connect Global and what the MSP community can expect moving forward. Here’s the inside scoop on how he felt the week was going, along with the strategic thinking that led to some of our industry’s biggest announcements.
JACK TURK, Writer, MSP Success Magazine: There’s clearly something special with Kaseya’s corporate DNA and how you feel about your customers. Care to talk about that?
FRED VOCCOLA, CEO, Kaseya: Most of our customers are small business owners, companies of 100, 50, even 20 people or less. It takes a lot of guts to start a company. It’s scary when you have to make payroll, because if you don’t make payroll, you’re messing with people’s lives.
And what we sell, the platform we provide, is the most important thing from the most important vendor they have. Because if our product doesn’t work, they don’t get paid. If our product breaks, they get fired by their customer.
So it’s about more than just the money in this business. I started my first software company in college. And the majority of those software products served large enterprises. But say, for example, that Citibank was a customer – nothing I’ve ever built is going to make them fail as a company if that doesn’t work.
But this is a very different thing. We’re looking the owners of these small companies in the eye and saying, “Trust us, because we’re going to help you be successful.” And if we mess up, we’re messing up their whole company.
What we have with our customers is a great, mutually symbiotic relationship. It’s super fun to deal with customers like ours, I love them. They’re the best. It’s the most rewarding professional experience I’ve ever had, and we’re only getting started.
JACK: Speaking of fun, let’s talk about the Miami Heat arena now being named “Kaseya Center.” That’s a bold move. What excites you about making this decision?
FRED: We did it for two reasons.
First, it’s like what Intel did with its “Intel Inside” branding of the ’90s and 2000s.
When Intel started that campaign, they weren’t selling to the buyers of PCs, they were selling to the people who MADE the PCs, who then sold to their customers. Intel’s strategy was to build a brand that said to consumers, “If your PC is powered by Intel, it’s the very best. But God help you if you buy a PC that’s not Intel Inside.”
Intel built a direct-to-the-consumer branding strategy that enabled their partners – the ones who put “Intel Inside” on their PCs – to win.
We’re doing the exact same thing. We’re building a brand that says “Powered By Kaseya.” This is the first time we’ve used that phrase, and we’re going to build a brand so that whenever you see anything in IT and security that’s “Powered By Kaseya,” you’ll know it’s the best in the world.
It starts by making Kaseya a household name in the minds of those deciding which MSP to select. And business owners and executives who are selecting MSPs are going to see the name Kaseya in some way through this arena deal. Then, when an MSP approaches their customer and says, “We’re ‘Powered By Kaseya,’” that person’s going to say, “I’ve heard of Kaseya, so you must be good.”
Kaseya partners and customers “Powered By Kaseya” are going to clean up, but God help the MSPs that aren’t. We’re investing in our MSPs; this is the biggest investment anyone’s ever made, and it’s just starting.
Second reason for branding Kaseya Center – over the next two years we’re looking to hire 3,500 people in Miami, and somewhere between 4,500 to 5,000 worldwide. When we hire good people, it helps our customers. And we want to be hiring people from the community we live in, and now every single person in South Florida will see that Kaseya’s a premier brand.
That’s why we put our name on the arena.
There are over 300 events a year there, not just basketball, and it says to the world that Kaseya’s a large global brand. People want to work for a company they’ve heard of and can be proud of.
So, it’s going to help us accelerate the hiring and the quality of people we can bring into our company, which again is being done so we can deliver better solutions for our customers.
JACK: It was reported this morning that ConnectWise and Bain Capital were discussing a deal that apparently didn’t go through. Do you have any thoughts on what’s going on with them now?
FRED: ConnectWise is a great company. I know their CEO, Jason Magee. Jason’s a good guy.
Funny story about Jason – way back early in our careers, he was head of sales for a company in New York City and he hired my brother right out of school. He was my little brother’s first boss. And Jason treated my brother really well, just a classy guy.
Then, when I joined Kaseya, Jason was nice enough to reach out and say, “Welcome to the industry!” even though we’re competitors. Very classy again, so I wish Jason the best.
ConnectWise has been able to build a nice little company, and the rumor is that they’re looking to sell sometime soon to a private equity firm. So I’m happy for Jason, and the employees of ConnectWise as well, that they’ll get a liquidity event.
Now, anytime a company gets sold to a private equity buyer, it can mean a lot of uncertainty. Whoever buys them will make a lot of changes. They’ll lay people off, they’ll reduce R&D investment, they’ll do a lot of things.
So, it will be good for the company, and it will be good for the industry because it will show that serious people are thinking about investing in the MSP community and are bullish about its future.
But I wouldn’t want to be a ConnectWise customer once they get bought. Because it takes about a year and a half for the people to settle in, and it’s likely to be a tough 18 months for ConnectWise customers after the acquisition.
JACK: Regarding acquisitions, you’ve been active recently with audIT and Vonahi Security. Could you share a few thoughts on how you approach this process and the benefits it brings to customers?
FRED: Our strategy has been our main platform called IT Complete, so our partners and our customers can deliver the best IT security in the world. Now, IT Complete has several attributes…
First, it must be complete – it’s only a platform if people can do everything they need to do in it.
The thinking behind Vonahi Security was that network penetration testing is something every IT professional should do regularly – once a week, or monthly at the latest. But the reason most only do one a year, or maybe once every six months, is that it’s expensive because it’s all manual and it can cost tens of thousands to do one test.
The founder of Vonahi, Greg Johnson, was a pen tester, passionate about this stuff, and he figured out how to automate pen testing. So now you only have to pay a few hundred dollars to do a test, and people can test weekly, monthly, quarterly – even daily if they want.
That’s super badass, and it’s super important for us to have in our platform, integrated with everything else our customers can do. That’s why we bought it. And we lowered the price of Vonahi to make it more affordable for our customers and to send a message that we want to make their lives better and more profitable.
audIT is another cool story. It’s a sales automation and proposal generation solution for MSPs.
Their founder, Frank DeBenedetto, was the owner of a successful MSP called River Technologies. He created audIT and used it to build his business. And he realized that while most MSPs are fantastic engineers and technicians, they’re not always great salespeople. So he started selling it to MSPs and built a nice business.
We looked at it and decided that every MSP should have this tool. Because, if you’re “Powered By Kaseya,” we have to make sure you’re the best. Just as you need to be doing network penetration testing all day long, you need to be the best you can be at sales and marketing.
With audIT we can help you do just that. And we’re giving it to you for free as well.
So that’s where that came from and we’re super jazzed about it.
JACK: You also just announced the Cyber Insurance Fast Track Program. Can you explain why you felt it was so important to take this step right now?
FRED: When you look at the market trends when it comes to cyber insurance, there are two major factors driving that sector. First, it’s getting harder and harder for companies to qualify for cyber insurance that truly protects them in case of a significant event. Second, the prices have continued to rise sharply, and we expect that increase to gain momentum, so IT organizations will be looking at premiums that are double or maybe triple what they are today.
The Kaseya Cyber Insurance Fast Track Program was designed from the start to help alleviate both of these challenges for our customers. We spent a lot of time working with insurance companies to have them test the solutions in our Security Suite to ensure they met the high standards set, and then we worked to negotiate a program that offered the best possible pricing for $1.5M of coverage.
So now Kaseya customers leveraging our Security Suite can not only protect themselves, but they can offer the same benefit to their end customers, in the case of MSPs. Our MSP customers can now say to customers, “Because we’re ‘Powered By Kaseya,’ we are one of the select MSPs that can not only offer cyber security solutions for your company, but affordable cyber insurance to protect from the worst-case scenarios.” That’s super powerful.
JACK: I also saw that you’re making a big investment in RITSM certification. Why is this so important and what do you hope to see come of it?
FRED: For an MSP “Powered By Kaseya” to be the best, they have to have the best people. But a lot of MSPs don’t have the HR infrastructure and a full-time recruiting talent development organization.
With RITSM we’re going to create hundreds of thousands of certified technical professionals. They’ll know how to operate remote IT and security manager, they’re going to learn backup RMM, they’re going to learn IT bedside manner – all the essentials of how MSPs operate.
They’ll run through our 40-hour+ program and they’re going to learn everything using Kaseya’s IT Complete platform, using our products. So, eventually there will be hundreds of thousands of people available, ready to be employed by MSPs who use Kaseya. We want to make the labor market easier for our MSPs, so they can scale their business – because the best in the world will want to go work for our MSPs.
JACK: It’s been a rough road lately for tech with layoffs, etc. But you’re continuing to hire and you had lots of big announcements today. What other kinds of investments can we expect this year?
FRED: Our primary responsibility is our MSP customers, and we’re making huge investments in helping them succeed.
For example, we’ve tripled the amount of MDF funds available to MSP partners. And here is what’s nice about now having the Kaseya Center in Miami… Let’s say you’re an MSP in Portland or in Dallas or in New Jersey, and you want to bring a couple of customers down to Kaseya headquarters in Miami and then go to an event at the Kaseya Center. We have MDF funds available for them to do these kinds of things.
And we’ll keep making huge investments in events, like this conference for roughly 5,000 partners and customers. We’re doing 40 local meetups around the world, with 50 to 100 MSPs at each – to educate them on how to use our platform more efficiently and effectively.
We’re going to invest about $500 million in R&D to make our products better.
- We invested huge money in the Kaseya Center.
- We’re investing to make our platform more integrated.
- We’re investing so we can continue lowering our prices.
- We’re investing in building more integrations so MSPs can be more efficient.
We’ll invest over a billion dollars this year on things directly related to helping our customers become more successful.
JACK: One last question. I loved your reference to the classic “Intel Inside” label. And so down the road, when someone sees that label “Powered By Kaseya,” what do you want them to think and feel?
FRED: First, let’s talk about our partners and customers, the MSPs and IT professionals. I want them to feel proud. I want them to know they’re with the provider who really cares about their success and will stop at nothing to make sure they succeed. I want them to know they have a partner in Kaseya who’s got their back, hopefully forever.
Then, for the customers of an MSP, when they see that their MSP is “Powered By Kaseya,” they feel that they’re safe and they’re with the best – because an MSP “Powered By Kaseya” is by far the best in the world. They may not know exactly why, but they know they’re the best in the world.
We want the average nontechnical business executive to associate any organization “Powered By Kaseya” as the best. They wouldn’t dare allow anyone else to manage their IT security other than one “Powered By Kaseya.”
And we’re going to invest lots of time, effort, money and blood, sweat and tears to make that knowledge and awareness a reality.