ConnectWise and Continuum have announced that they have joined forces.
The move means the dominant ERP-for-MSPs (ConnectWise) has tied up with one of the bigger security players targeting MSPs (Continuum), creating a very substantial software and services force dedicated to the channel.
The combined companies will have nearly 35,000 global users but potentially changing how thousands of those MSPs do business.
“You look at the aggregate of this entity in revenue, in footprint, in number of MSPs and TSPs [technology solution providers], in product portfolio, in employees, in geography—this is by far the largest provider in the space,” said Continuum CEO Michael George, who is an investor in the new company but is not staying on board. “With size and scale come economies of scale, breadth of capability. This is the largest, now dominant platform in the market. Our collective MSPs benefit from having that as their empowerment platform to go to market. If I were in the MSP space today, I couldn’t imagine a better platform to go to than this one.”
ConnectWise CEO Jason Magee, who will be leading the combined company, said that with the merger, he hopes to bring the best products of both companies to bear in the market. These include ConnectWise’s dominant PSA tool and Continuum’s robust artificial intelligence/machine learning enhanced security, which itself is bolstered by four Security Operations Centers around the world.
“Whether it’s the growing pains of talent and skill shortages, it will help accelerate ConnectWise and push ConnectWise further into the cybersecurity realm,” Magee said. “This is something that Continuum has done extremely well over the last couple years and, quite arguably, [is] probably the most successful in the MSP, TSP space in doing so. You sprinkle in the managed offerings around SOC, NOC [Network Operations Centers] and help desk and bring that all together with the current ConnectWise platform, and this is going to be revolutionary.”
Magee said in addition to the merger news, ConnectWise is unveiling the purchase of IT Boost, a documentation tool, that will soon be available to partners.
ConnectWise’s Magee and Continuum’s George said talks between the two companies have been going on for a number of years, with each company seeing its needs met by the products the other possessed. George said market forces seemed to push the two together, but there was no one specific moment when that happened.
“Both sides have always thought they needed to do an acquisition of someone like this,” Magee said. “Continuum thought they needed to do an acquisition of someone like ConnectWise or a business combination or merger. Same thing on the ConnectWise side. For the last few years, we’ve always been looking to solve the pain points of our partners that would bring us to this logical standpoint. We’ve entertained, on the ConnectWise side, different options in terms of solving these pain points for our partners. Both for the last couple years have been thinking about similar business combinations, mergers, new products being launched.”
Said George: “We were still owned by Summit Partners when we first had any level of meaningful discussion. These are two great companies that have been together for a long while. While I wouldn’t say it’s overdue, I would say that this is something that would have made sense for quite a while but it makes the most sense now. We had discussions as [few] as four years ago. I wish I had some fun pub story of us throwing darts at a dartboard together with different company names to merge with, but I think this is just a very natural progression that the market will clearly applaud but has been asking for in various forms for a long time now.”
Continuum’s George said the chance for partners to work with the largest player in the MSP platform space and reap the benefits of their combined forces, is a win for them.
“First of all, we have a number of partners we share in common with ConnectWise. ConnectWise PSA is absolutely, undeniably—and I don’t mean this in any disparaging way towards any of the other PSAs out there—but there is no comparison to ConnectWise’s PSA. We share an untold number of partners together that are in their PSA and in our service delivery platforms,” George said.
“We also, interestingly enough, share a number of partners who use ConnectWise’s RMM tools for those accounts [where] they want to maintain a level of control and ownership and want to have their own technicians in the service delivery model. And that same MSP would use our platform to do service delivery in the RMM sector for those clients that they want to put under a fully managed environment. Of course, as you know, in our world, we also have security and backup, which are two things that ConnectWise does not have,” he said.
“It’s two pieces of a puzzle that come together extraordinarily well and naturally,” George said. “Our partners will benefit, as I said, from now having one vendor, one partner relationship to manage and not two or more.”
Magee, who has not been at the helm of ConnectWise for a full year yet, already has weathered the storm of ransomware attacks as well as being the first new leader of the company in more than 30 years. He now has the challenge of merging two rival MSP platforms.
Magee said ConnectWise remains committed to the “power of choice,” meaning partners will still be able to tap into the 260-plus vendors that integrate into its platform today. The deal, however, also will significantly boost the company’s capabilities around SOC, NOC, and help desk, in addition to offering customers a different delivery model, according to Magee.
“That’s a lot of complementary goodness, and a lot of cool stuff that we’ll be able to do for the broader ecosystem. What they’ve built is pretty amazing and transformational and could do quite a bit more from what they currently have. I only anticipate a lot of good stuff coming from bringing this all together.”
“This will also allow ConnectWise to cater to the two mind-sets out there. One mind-set is of the ‘do it yourselfer.’ ‘Hey, I want choice, I want to be able to do it myself. I’m going to make the investment of time, talent and treasure to bring solutions and offerings to their customers.’ And then those who have the mind-set of ‘Hey, I want to hire a general contractor and have someone manage that for me.’ It’s going to allow us to cater and appeal to both of those mind-sets,” he said.
“Bringing two companies of this size together, there will be change. It’s going to be a very positive transformational change for our partner base,” Magee said.
Continuum's George said he will be “chief cheerleader, fan and investor” but will not otherwise be involved in the running of the new organization. George—who took the troubled Zenith Infotech and over eight years transformed it into Continuum—is widely considered to be a thought leader in the technology space, not only in the MSP field, but in artificial intelligence and machine learning. Apart from a 10-day meditation silence at a location near Dharamsala, India, he has no plans once the merger is done.
“These are two great companies that have been together for a long while,” he said. “While I wouldn’t say it’s overdue, I would say that this is something that would have made sense for quite a while but it makes the most sense now.”