N-able Mourns Tech Veteran Mike Cullen, ‘A Legend In The Channel’
‘As we come to terms with the sudden passing of a remarkable leader and a dear friend, our organization feels an immense void,’ says John Pagliuca, president and CEO of N-able. ‘Mike has been an industry leader and a founding pillar of our N-able community for over 20 years, and he played a pioneering role in helping to shape the industry as we know it today.’
Mike Cullen, a 30-year channel veteran and N-able executive known as “the godfather of the MSP industry,” who was recognized globally for his execution in go-to-market strategies, partner engagement, customer success and ecosystem selling, died earlier this week.
“As we come to terms with the sudden passing of a remarkable leader and a dear friend, our organization feels an immense void,” John Pagliuca, president and CEO of N-able, said in a statement. “This is a time for us to pause, reflect and honor the profound impact Mike Cullen had on each of us. Mike has been an industry leader and a founding pillar of our N-able community for over 20 years, and he played a pioneering role in helping to shape the industry as we know it today.
“In due course, we will share more about his legacy and the indelible mark Mike left on our lives and work,” Pagliuca added. “For now, our hearts and thoughts go out to Mike’s family, close friends and all who cherished him across the globe.”
At the time of his passing, he was serving as a strategic adviser to Pagliuca. Prior to that, Cullen served as general manager of RMM Business Unit and GVP of partner enablement positions respectively.
No information was immediately available about his death.
Cullen was named to CRN’s Channel Chiefs list for more than 15 years and held multiple positions at N-able including vice president of sales to senior vice president of worldwide sales.
Prior to joining N-able, Cullen was vice president of sales and interim president of the Quebec region for IKON Office Solutions where he helped grow the business from $3.5 million to $25 million in five years, according to N-able’s website. He co-founded Fulline Office Products, serving as vice president of sales for the company and held previous senior sales management roles with Canon and Pitney Bowes.
His work and commitment to the channel paired with his larger-than-life personality left a lasting impact on others in the industry, even those who were seen as competitors.
Rob Rae, CVP of communities and ecosystems at Denver-based cloud distributor Pax8, said Cullen was “a legend in the channel.”
“Mike was one of the OGs in the channel,” Rae told CRN. “Back in the day when we were trying to teach resellers how to become MSPs, Mike was one of those original guys who was out there talking to MSPs about business transformation. He was developing the tools for the entire industry that we created today, which is managed services. He was there from the beginning.”
Although Rae never worked directly with Cullen but rather was a competitor when he was director of partner development and operations at Level Platforms and then senior vice president of business development at Norwalk, Conn.-based vendor Datto, Rae said Cullen “had nothing but respect” about how the vendors engaged the partners, “and how they were all in it together.”
“We all knew that we had to work together towards helping this industry move forward,” Rae said. “Mike was a go-to guy in this space, even for Datto, to get information and learn from.”
Dan Wensley, CEO of Vancouver, Canada-based vendor Scalepad, said Cullen was a mentor of his who “completely embodied the importance of working with partners and with the channel.”
Wensley met Cullen when Wensley was vice president of marketing and sales at Ottawa, Canada-based software firm Level Platforms from 2005 to 2013.
“I met Mike as a competitor,” he told CRN. “And I’ve told this story for almost 20 years which is, even though we were a competitor that entire team, who at the forefront was Mike Cullen, were in the industry with the same belief I had, which was high tides raises all boats.”
His commitment to the channel and N-able partners was absolute, he said, adding that Cullen was very gracious with his time and his friendship.
Despite being competitors, Wensley said at different conferences he and Cullen would slip away to grab a drink to talk about the industry.
“He would share his passions with me,” he said. “To watch what he’s done and his continued commitment to the global channel has been inspirational, and I’m going to miss him.”
Cullen and himself were in the industry during the early days of business transformation and they would “connect and talk about the betterment of the entire channel and the importance of migrating from the traditional solutions provider to the MSP.”
“We both had the same objectives which was to elevate the industry into a more proactive managed services model,” he said. “We had a common goal to help MSPs. Mike had just remained committed to that over the last 20 plus years working directly with MSPs. He could have taken lots of jobs that would have disconnected him from the day-to-day interactions with MSPs but he stayed connected. He was always on the road meeting with partners and I admired him for that.”
Where Cullen provided the most benefit to partners was meeting and talking with them on a one-on-one level. Although his personality was larger than life, he never made it about himself, Wensley said.
“He was always about the partner,” he said. “He brought in this energy, this passion for life and passion for the industry to partners. Nobody did that better than Mike.”