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Partners Speak Out on ConnectWise Acquisition

See what six users of ConnectWise software have to say about private equity firm Thoma Bravo buying the managed service software maker and founder Arnie Bellini (pictured) stepping down as CEO. By Rich Freeman

ConnectWise has some 25,000 partners around the globe. It’s a safe bet that pretty much every last one of them was blind-sided by the epic news earlier this week that the managed services trailblazer has been acquired by private equity investor Thoma Bravo, and that company founder Arnie Bellini is stepping aside as CEO in favor of former president and COO Jason Magee. Here are some lightly edited initial thoughts on those developments, shared via email, from ConnectWise users.

 

Karl Bickmore“I think it’s clear where the ConnectWise values and concerns are. Just look at how many employees are benefiting from this. It’s an enormous thing. 70 employees are instant millionaires from this. I have always felt ConnectWise cares about its customers and its employees unlike any other company. I couldn't help but feel something like this was going to have to come, but look how Arnie and team did it. It’s pretty respectable.

Also, I am glad they chose Thoma Bravo. They have a history of adding and accelerating to a company…Also, I have already seen assurances that ConnectWise will remain the open platform that welcomes all to connect and integrate. That is the way it should be.

Furthermore, I think Jason Magee is a great choice for the next CEO. He has been at ConnectWise and running operations for a while now and he really has a vision for the future of ConnectWise that is going to be great for ConnectWise customers. Now that they have the financial backing of private equity, the company with the best industry vision and the best community will be poised to make many more millionaires out of its customers.”

Karl Bickmore
CEO
Snap Tech IT

 

Michael Cocanower"I think it is far too early to tell.

Some random initial reactions:

1. Would love to have more detail on the layoffs and 70 open positions. Are the 110 layoffs back office positions that won’t have an impact on partner experience? Or are they support staff? If the latter, that obviously concerns me in terms of response time, quality of response to support issues, etc.

2. Anytime anyone gets acquired by [private equity], there is always the danger of more red tape and bureaucracy being introduced into the company. I’m never a fan of red tape.

3. Certainly happy for Arnie and the founders of the org. I first met Arnie in the late 90s when we were on a Microsoft advisory council together. At the time his primary focus was his IT business and the software side was just starting up. There is one thing I have ALWAYS said about Arnie, which is he worked HARD to get where he is. In the early days no matter what trade show or industry event you went to, you could count on Arnie being there working his tail off in a booth trying to sell his software. Nothing was handed to him and this reward is well deserved for decades of hard work. I have tremendous respect for that.

4. I think the exit was timed perfectly. There is no question the MSP software/tools space has the attention of private equity at the moment and there are a LOT of dollars flowing in. That means increased competition, an increase in the number of ‘frienamies’ these companies have, and just a lot more crowded space generally. Great time for an exit at the peak.”

Michael Cocanower
President
itSynergy

 

Ed Correia“I guess I shouldn’t have been quite so surprised. It seems everybody’s buying somebody else. But the news did come as a bit of a surprise for me. Still, ConnectWise has been incredible partner to my company for a very long time and I expect that to continue. I certainly can’t see Arnie Bellini working as hard as he has to build an IT industry behemoth and not ensuring the best possible outcome for ConnectWise, their employees, and their client partners. So no, I’m actually not worried at all.”

Ed Correia
President & CEO
Sagacent Technologies Inc.

 

Amy Kardel“This is good news for the IT Nation and will increase ConnectWise’s ability to do the right thing by partners…Overall, this is about accelerating the delivery of what partners need, thereby accelerating success.”

Amy Kardel
Co-Founder & President
Clever Ducks

 

 

Steve Tutino“ConnectWise has lost its customer focus. Maybe this will help them get it back. I love Arnie but have no confidence in the company today.”

Steve Tutino
President
Ipanema Solutions LLC

 

 

 

Jamison West“I met Arnie Bellini when he had, if my recollection is accurate, about 38 employees. I became a partner, dove headfirst into the platform and the community, and over the past 13 years or so have felt like part of the ConnectWise family to a large degree. Full disclosure, I sit on their Advisor Council and also travel and speak at their events. They are now roughly 1050 staff (wow)…

The outcome for Arnie today is representative of my core thinking on wealth building. He bootstrapped a company to ridiculously impressive levels and exited. His equity was his core asset. That mirrors my core thinking. What shouldn't get lost in this outcome is what happened to the people who have worked for ConnectWise, stayed the course, and had a wealth-building event today. $270,000,000 went to them. Over 70 new millionaires. Many, many others with a significant boost to their net worth.

This served as a reminder to me that wealth building doesn't mean you must be a founder of a business with significant equity to build wealth. There are other ways to get there, and Arnie created wealth today well beyond himself. This was an impressive outcome for so many people.”

Jamison West (via his blog)
CEO
Teamatics LLC

 

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