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May 6, 2022 |

Datto Exec to Partners: It’s Business as Usual

Speaking at the latest ChannelPro SMB Forum, Datto’s Rob Rae acknowledged that the company’s pending acquisition by Kaseya is producing more questions than answers, offered reasons for cautious hope, and cautioned against “kneejerk reactions.”

Since news broke of Kaseya’s plan to acquire fellow managed services vendor Datto for a whopping $6.2 billion, Datto partners have been filled with questions.

What will become of the relationships they’ve forged within the company, and the culture they’ve come to value? What happens next to products like Datto RMM, Autotask PSA, and Datto’s BDR solutions, all of which overlap with offerings from Kaseya? Will Kaseya sell direct to end users?

Much like Kaseya CEO Fred Voccola, however, there’s only so much Rob Rae, Datto’s senior vice president of business development, can say about such matters while the epic transaction remains pending and Datto remains a publicly traded corporation.

“I don’t have any definitive answers,” Rae says. “Right now, it’s just business as usual.”

For Rae, business as usual these days includes fielding a lot of queries and complaints from Datto users. “Obviously, the partners are unhappy,” he says. Everyone at Datto understands why too, he adds.

“These acquisitions, and change in itself, are just never easy,” Rae says. “Partners invest so much into companies and so much into the technologies and the cultures of these companies, and they go through a careful process of selecting these companies, and then you get acquired by a different company.”

The uncertainty that follows can be more than a little stressful, which is why Rae recently added a stop at ChannelPro‘s just concluded SMB Forum event in Chicago to his travel schedule.

“Transparency, I think, is going to be key through all of this,” he says. “I think it’s important that we just get out in front of this and talk to our partners about what’s going on, and let them know that we’re still here and still care.”

In the absence of firm information about what happens after the deal closes, assuming it does, Rae can do little more than share a few thoughts on the topic in the hope that partners find them reassuring. For one thing, he notes, Datto is a growing company (revenue rose 19% in 2021) with future prospects bright enough to inspire a $6-plus billion investment by savvy private equity firms like Insight Partners and TPG. Why, Rae asks, would those companies wreck the things that made Datto worth buying in the first place?

“There’s a certain point where logic has to come into it,” he says. “If we’re on such a good track, why would you take us off that track?”

For all the talk about a culture clash between Kaseya and Datto, Rae continues, the two companies ultimately share a common mission. “They care about the MSP channel. We care about the MSP channel,” he says. “You have two organizations that are focused solely on helping MSPs to market and helping them make more money.” It stands to reason that combining those companies into a bigger one with more resources at its disposal is likelier to be good for partners than bad.

“I can’t envision it makes things worse,” Rae says.

As Datto partners have observed, however, only time will tell. In the interim, Rae insists, nothing about the deal between now and its conclusion will interfere with product innovation. Indeed, Datto introduced a new generation of its SIRIS BDR appliances and updated its Cloud Continuity for PCs solution last week, and has enhancements to its cybersecurity software coming soon too.

“I know our roadmap and our roadmap is still healthy, strong, and all moving forward,” Rae says. Some of the landmarks on that roadmap, he adds, will be on display at September’s DattoCon partner conference in Washington D.C., which is moving forward as well.

In the meantime, Rae cautions partners against “kneejerk reactions” they could end up regretting. Plenty of MSPs feared the worst when Datto took on venture capital in 2013, was bought by private equity firm Vista Partners in 2017, and went public in 2020.

“And then ultimately what happened is you didn’t see much negative change at all,” Rae says. The same could well be true of the latest milestone in Datto’s history.

“You don’t do an acquisition of this size without a plan. Let’s wait to see the plan before we start passing judgment on how it’s all going to play out,” Rae says. “There’s too much at stake here to fail.”

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