Autotask, ConnectWise Competition Heating Up After Acquisition


Competition is heating up in the channel for IT management platforms after Autotask announced its acquisition earlier this week, top executives at both Autotask and competitor ConnectWise told CRN.

On Monday at Autotask Community Live in Hollywood, Fla., CEO Mark Cattini announced that Vista Equity Partners, a private equity firm, would be acquiring the company for an undisclosed amount.

It didn't take long for competition to start ramping up between Autotask and major competitor ConnectWise. Just hours after the announcement, Cattini told CRN that he had already seen signs of ConnectWise reaching out and attempting to get Autotask partners to jump ship to the competitor. Cattini said that showed him ConnectWise was worried after the news of the acquisition.

"They should be," Cattini said.

[Related: Autotask To Be Acquired By Vista Equity Partners]

However, ConnectWise CEO Arnie Bellini said he is actually feeling quite the opposite.

"In a world where everyone is selling their business, we are investing in business and solutions to make our partners more successful," Bellini said. "That's how I feel about it."

Bellini said that he is seeing a lot of companies and competitors selling their businesses to private equity firms. 

"ConnectWise is debt free with no venture capital and extremely profitable, which allows us to focus on IT solutions and our success," Bellini said, saying ConnectWise has no plans for an acquisition.

Recent examples of those investments include adding BizDox, to help partners document key information, and Chat Assist, which Bellini said will change the way help desk is delivered with chat and RMM integrated into the ConnectWise platform.

"We never rest here at ConnectWise," Bellini said. "We are always looking for ways to reinvent ourselves and drive wild success for our partners."

For its part, Autotask rolled out a compete revamp of its user interface at the Autotask Community Live event this week. The new UI is expected to roll out to all Autotask partners in the fall.

Pat Burns, Autotask vice president of product management, said in the same interview with CRN after the acquisition that almost every major successful software company has been bought, so the Autotask acquisition is no stranger to the market. He said that Autotask now has "bigger and better investors" than it has had before, which will allow it more innovation and investment into its partners.

"There's literally zero that anyone could rationally be worried about," Burns said.

"I don’t think [ConnectWise] realizes that it's a private equity company with the quality and scale; where's the negative?" Cattini added.

The Autotask acquisition is anticipated to close this summer. Meanwhile, Bellini said that its competitor will be "sticking to a laser-focus on IT solution providers" going forward, regardless of Autotask's market moves. 

"I wish Autotask great luck. I'm all about competition and we look forward to continuing to compete against Autotask, and we feel that we are in a better position than ever to compete," Bellini said. "We do see it as an opportunity."

PUBLISHED JUNE 12, 2014