(Photo credit: Harrison Photography)
At the recent Kaseya DattoCON 2023, MSP Success sat down with Kaseya CEO Fred Voccola, who shared his thoughts on why Kaseya, Datto and their mutual MSP partners are “better together,” Kaseya’s approach to AI and automation, what’s ahead on the road map and more. This is an edited version of that conversation.
MSP Success: During your keynote at Kaseya DattoCON 2023, you reflected on the Datto acquisition and post-acquisition achievements. What do you hope attendees took away from that?
Fred Voccola: One, all the great things that we accomplish together. When we bought Datto, we talked about “better together.” There was a hashtag. A lot of people misunderstood – they thought it was that Kaseya and Datto were both better together, and it was that Kaseya, Datto and our partners are better together, because about 60% to 70% of Kaseya partners and Datto partners were joint partners prior to the transaction.
When we looked at the amount of innovation that we have accomplished together, how much better all the technology has gotten, how much more deeply integrated it’s gotten, how much more automation we provide, how much this combined company can provide for our combined partners, it’s staggering. We accomplished a ton and we’ve moved the needle exponentially.
But it goes beyond that. It’s our artificial intelligence capabilities that we’ve leveraged over the last two and a half years, and especially the last year. They’re free. We’re providing them in the platform.
It’s the enormous financial investments that were made in the partner program. We have almost four times the amount of MDF funds and partners participating in MDF than prior to the acquisition.
It’s also all the integrations that have been done.
And here’s the most important part: it’s all done in line with our strategy, our platform of IT Complete and how that platform is aligned with our partners’ business objectives. Kaseya and our partners have the exact same business objectives. So, if in one year we accomplished all this, in what was a transition year, imagine what we do next year and the year after.
We want to make sure people understand that this is the benefit of being a partner that’s powered by Kaseya. And we continuously get feedback so we can put that feedback into our billion-dollar-plus investment engine and just keep building things that will make our partners more successful.
MSP Success: What did you love about the Datto partner program that you adopted it for Kaseya?
Voccola: It was just really smart. They had a good pulse on creating value-add programs and components – programs that can move the needle for MSPs of all types, small, medium and large. I’m talking about a partner program better than we had at Kaseya. For example, Kaseya did not have a structured MDF program.
What Datto recognized is that many midsize and small MSP partners might not have marketing expertise. They might not have a dedicated marketing group. So the Datto MDF was not only paying for the program, but putting on the program, doing the logistics. It was very pragmatic, very entrepreneurial. Datto’s founder, Austin McChord, is an entrepreneur. Entrepreneurs are good at finding solutions, and that entrepreneurial DNA of Austin was all throughout the Datto partner program. We adopted it, and now the people who ran the Datto partner program, they all work under Gary Pica [president of Kaseya company TruMethods], who said, “Fred, take that program as it is and let’s put four times the money into it and see what we can do.” Here we are.
MSP Success: Let’s shift to your AI strategy. You were in early with Cooper, and you’ve now rolled out Cooper Bots. What is your AI strategy going forward?
Voccola: “AI” is a sexy buzzword. It’s like the “cloud” 10 years ago.
One of the many assets we have is the incredible volume of data that can be ingested and analyzed by AI engines to process and get valuable, useful things out of. We started this journey three years ago. We’re pragmatic people trying to help small to midsize MSPs be successful. Our first observation was that sometimes our partners aren’t getting the most out of what they can from the money they spend with us. The AI team worked to address that by identifying usage patterns and mapping people to patterns. So, we rolled out the Cooper Intelligence Engine, named after my dog. Kate DeGregorio [chief of staff at Kaseya] came up with the name.
Once we did that, it went from being this super fancy, complex thing to something more pragmatic and real, which fits our company. It’s not AI, it’s Cooper. That subtle internal marketing allowed our engineers not to be intimidated by AI. That sounds stupid, but that’s so important in our journey, because then people start not being afraid to reach out and touch it and see what it can do.
And then the next phase, the integration team said they’re seeing common business processes that are being done. Cooper identified how the products are being used, what they’re being used for and how they’re being used together for that purpose. We identified the correlation quickly between product usage and end result. That resulted in the new Cooper Bots business process automation.
So, the strategy was to make the entire product and engineering group comfortable with AI. They’re not trying to solve an AI problem; they’re trying to use AI as a tool to solve customer problems better.
It all comes down to making human beings operate better, and AI makes human beings operate better. But you have to get human beings comfortable with that concept.
MSP Success: You’ll be rolling out more Cooper Bots over time?
Voccola: One hundred percent. And what makes our bots even so much better? Since we own the [software], our bot can build the automation between these processes. A bot can’t do that between five different products from five different vendors because they can’t control it. So, the workflow integrations that we build are what allow the bots to do their thing. Integration is awesome because it allows for automation, and automation is the name of the game in IT and security management.
MSP Success: Tell me about your new M&A Concierge service.
Voccola: Like most things we do, you crawl, you walk, you run. We were doing some of these things in piecemeal. Here’s how it actually became a part of our platform and why we formalized it.
Frank DeBenedetto, founder and CEO of audIT, which we acquired a year ago, started building it with Gary Pica, assembling the components, getting product management and R&D to build the ingestion and the integration modules, getting professional services to get the service offerings for the modules and getting the partner program to have a seller service to help sellers get ready to sell, help sellers find buyers and assist buyers with integrating what they buy and helping them find the right targets to buy. They put it together in nine or 10 months and we built it into the platform. It’s free, just like all our AI is free.
We’re not a broker, but we will help form relationships. Let’s say you want to sell your business. We have dozens of large and midsize MSPs [partners] that want to buy. We have multiple ways of helping them work with brokers and with the people on our platform to make them aware. We’re not giving out lists; we never do that. But they tell us the profile and we’ll set up a joint webinar and invite – without the buyer knowing the names – the people who fit the profile. We’re leveraging the platform to facilitate.
MSP Success: What’s ahead on your road map?
Voccola: The most important thing that’s going to happen in 2024 in the industry, and that’s a pretty bold statement and it’s coming from a place of humility, is we are going to make an announcement at Kaseya Connect on April 29 in Las Vegas that will be five times as impactful as the announcement of when we bought Datto. This announcement will fundamentally transform and benefit the MSP community bigger than anything it’s ever seen, and it will benefit every single partner.
It’s not an acquisition. It’s not a merger. It’s not another naming rights. It’s something that every MSP has wanted for 15 years, and they will finally get it.
MSP Success: Is it a product or a service?
Voccola: It is something awesome.
MSP Success: What is the biggest opportunity for MSPs in 2024?
Voccola: The biggest opportunity for MSPs, other than taking advantage of what we’re going to talk about in April, is the continued awareness of the average non-IT person about the real threats of cyber security. It’s become easier and easier to tell small to midsize businesses they need to invest real money, time and effort in cyber security. And the MSPs are the only ones that can do it.
MSP Success: And what’s the biggest threat?
Voccola: The biggest threat to an MSP business owner is not running their business like a business. The competition is more mature. If you own an MSP and you’re still thinking you can spend your time playing around with tools, being an engineer, not running your business like a business, you will not be able to. It’ll be harder and harder to compete.
Get more details on the future of the MSP community from Fred Voccola here.