Channel News

The 10 Most Controversial Companies Of 2022

Steven Burke

Blockbuster acquisitions involving some of the most prominent technology vendors, companies hit by cybersecurity breaches and layoffs from tech stalwarts dominated the list of the most controversial companies in 2022.

1. Kaseya: Grapples With Culture Clash After Blockbuster Datto Acquisition

Kaseya’s $6.2 billion acquisition of MSP mainstay Datto and solution provider concerns over the ensuing cultural clash made it the No. 1 most controversial company of 2022.

When the blockbuster deal was announced on April 11, Kaseya CEO Fred Voccola hailed Datto’s “legendary commitment to its customers and employees.” What’s more, Voccola pointed to the “alignment” of the two companies’ “missions and focus” as making the combination a “natural fit.”

That natural fit was questioned from the outset by some MSPs who were concerned that Kaseya would not provide the same high-level partnership and channel-friendly experience they had become accustomed to at Datto. A number of MSPs, in fact, said they would consider moving off Datto in the wake of the deal, even as others cautioned against a rush to judgement.

Voccola, for his part, told CRN he was firmly committed to investing in Datto’s strong channel culture, product set and brand. “We’re spending $6.2 billion to buy an awesome company,” he told CRN in an interview in April in the wake of the deal. “The last thing that we want to do is make it unawesome. When we buy companies, we buy them for a reason. They’re great. We don’t [mess] with the culture and we don’t change the brand.”

After Kaseya closed the deal on June 23, Voccola lashed out at competitors that he claimed were spreading FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt) about the deal.

“It [ticks] me off because our competition is out there spreading FUD—fear, uncertainty and doubt—saying, ‘Oh, everything about Datto is going to go away,’” Voccola told CRN. “That’s stupid. ... And when they say that, they’re just trying to take advantage of the fact that we couldn’t come out and say the truth because Datto is a public company. Now we can. Those are facts. Hold me accountable.”

After seeing the details of deal, some MSPs told CRN they are optimistic the it would help grow the industry and their business.

Dave Seibert, CIO of IT Innovators, an Irvine, Calif.-based MSP that works with both Kaseya and Datto as well as with their chief rival ConnectWise, said that it was an exciting time for MSPs. “From the partner point of view, I see the energy, the momentum, and the sincerity of what Kaseya is doing with Datto,” Seibert told CRN. “And I see the vision of what they are doing.”

That vision was questioned just 16 days after deal was finalized by Datto founder and former CEO Austin McChord, who accused Kaseya of destroying the Datto culture in a blistering diatribe that claimed post acquisition changes were damaging the one-time MSP high flyer.

“This sucks,” wrote McChord in the GitHub post that also appeared on LinkedIn. “It feels like you just bought a leading football team and are in the process of breaking all the players’ legs. This is not a winning strategy. It will hurt the entire MSP industry.”

McChord, who founded Datto in 2007 as a college student working in his family’s basement and stepped aside four years ago, said that he decided to speak out after “many members” of the Datto team reached out “deeply dismayed” by changes Kaseya was making. “There is a concern that the current trajectory from Datto’s new owners will snuff the flame that makes Datto a place to come ‘Do your life’s work,’” he wrote.

Cautioning that he is no longer associated with the company and that the information he is receiving is “second hand,” McChord pointed to benefit changes that include reducing 401K match from 4.5 percent to zero percent; maternity leave from 16 weeks to three weeks, and a reduction in vacation/PTO.

Furthermore, McChord cited what he called a move to sideline “employee resource groups that support under-represented people at the company” and not treating the office as a “hub for community anymore: ‘No more hanging out in the office.’”

Finally, McChord claimed that Kaseya was “looking for long-term changes to budgets with decreases in excess” of 30 percent.

It was what happened in the wake of that McChord rant that put the cultural clash in the spotlight.

On July 7, Voccola hosted a profanity-laced two hour town hall meeting to welcome new Datto employees that cemented concerns that the open, socially conscious corporate culture they loved at Datto would disappear.

During the in-person session held at Datto’s Norwalk, Conn., headquarters, Voccola lashed out at an unnamed former Datto leader and also said that Kaseya chooses not to take a position on any social issue, a stance that threatened the ongoing existence of Datto employee resource groups aimed at supporting marginalized populations, according to a video recording of the session that was viewed by CRN.

Voccola’s unvarnished style was on full display as he repeatedly insisted throughout the session that he was “not being a d*ck” as he addressed questions posed by the incoming Datto employees.

Following the July 7 meeting in Norwalk and another held in Boston, multiple current and former Datto employees expressed anger in interviews with CRN over their concern that the Datto culture—which Kaseya had vowed to keep—was vanishing overnight.

“Three weeks ago, I would have said this is my dream job. I have a purpose and the freedom to execute on my goals,” one incoming Datto worker who asked to remain anonymous for fear of reprisal told CRN. “After the town hall, and the first few days here [at Kaseya], myself and everyone on my team have applied for multiple jobs.”

In an interview with CRN to address the concerns raised after the town hall, Voccola said his focus on maintaining Datto culture centers largely on retaining its strong relationships with MSPs and that he sees things like benefits as a separate question.

“I got asked the question, ‘Are you changing the culture of Datto? You said you weren’t going to. What’s up, dude, you full of sh*t?’ We bought Datto for its culture, its brand, its people. Datto is awesome to MSPs. Datto really takes care of its customers. They have great tech, and they have a culture of innovation. Datto and MSP are like synonyms. That’s the culture we bought. That’s what I mean when I say we don’t want to change that culture,” Voccola told CRN. “What we do with our health insurance, or our 401k matching, they are important to employees. No doubt. I don’t view that as culture. I view that as how do we make sure our employees are compensated at the top end of the market. Compensation is cash, equity, stock benefits, all that kind of cr*p. And somehow, the message has been mixed.”

Solution providers that had worked with Datto got word of more change ahead in November with the departure of highly regarded Datto MSP advocate Rob Rae. Voccola told CRN after the deal closed in June that Rae would be sticking around. “Rob’s awesome,” Voccola told CRN. We love Rob. I tried to hire Rob for the last six years, so we got Rob finally. It took us buying Datto to get Rob Rae to be an employee.”

On December 1, CRN reported that Ryan Weeks, lauded for building a cyber-defense system to protect MSPs that “rivaled anything a large bank could muster,” had left his role as Datto’s CISO.

Michael Cervino, vice president of operations at Radnor, Pa.-based MSP Circle Square Consulting, told CRN in the wake of Weeks’ departure that he had “some serious concerns” going forward as a Datto partner.

“Kaseya’s track record on security is not the best, so it doesn’t make me feel good,” Cervino said of Weeks’ departure from the CISO role, referencing the ransomware attack that hit Kaseya in July 2021. “We’ll be re-evaluating our relationship with Datto and/or Kaseya as a whole.”

That attack put Kaseya at the top of CRN’s list of the most controversial companies of 2021.

As 2022 came to a close, Voccola pointed ahead to the company’s robust event lineup for 2023 and the opportunities it will create for customers to connect with the company and their peers across five large customer-centric conferences, including DattoCon. “From the CEO of an MSP to a technician on an internal IT team, there is going to be something for everyone in 2023,” he said in a December 19 press release.



Steven Burke

Steve Burke has been reporting on the technology industry and sales channel for over 30 years. He is passionate about the role of partners using technology to solve business problems and has spoken at conferences on channel sales issues. He can be reached at

Sponsored Post