Fennessy Replaces Founder As CEO Of FishNet Security

Rich Fennessy

Rich Fennessy, the former CEO of international solution provider Insight, was named CEO of FishNet Security Friday.

Fennessy replaces FishNet founder, president and CEO Gary Fish, who revealed plans to retire after 17 years at the helm of the $700 million solution provider. Fish founded the company as FishNet Security Consulting in the basement of his Blue Spring, Mo., home in 1996. He will remain with the company as chairman of the board of directors.

The change comes just 10 months after international investment firm Investcorp acquired a majority stake in FishNet.

[Related: Juniper Taps Former Verizon CTO As Its New CEO ]

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"This is a very inspiring choice," said Martin Wolf, founder and president of MartinWolf, a global M&A investment adviser focused on service provider business models, regarding the Fennessy appointment. "Rich Fennessy is a very strong sales and marketing executive. If the board feels that this is what kind of leadership they need, he is a very enlightened choice."

Wolf said he expects Fennessy to "figure out a way to make FishNet Security more of a sales and marketing machine leveraging" the security solution provider's leading position in the market to grow sales.

Prior to his five-year stint at Tempe, Ariz.-based Insight, Fennessy was with IBM for 17 years, where he held multiple executive roles, including general manager of IBM's $12 billion ibm.com e-commerce site. He most recently was CEO and president of eInstruction Corp., a private-equity-owned maker of technology for the education sector in Scottsdale, Ariz. He left that job in July, according to his LinkedIn profile. He also is listed on LinkedIn as the co-founder and chairman of SocialWhirled, a Scottsdale company that is billed as a one-stop social media marketing company, a position he has held for nearly four years.

Fish did not respond to CRN's request for comment. In a statement, he said: "It was not an easy decision, but I feel very comfortable handing over the reins of FishNet Security at this time. We have an experienced management team and associates that will continue to execute on our vision and continue to maintain our entrepreneurial culture. I am very proud of what we have accomplished and am looking forward to contributing to the future of FishNet Security in my new role."

Fish said in an interview with the Kansas City Business Journal that Fennessy will maintain his Phoenix residence, rent an apartment in the Kansas City area and travel back and forth between the two cities "for the time being."

It was only six years ago that FishNet Security, Overland Park, Kan., debuted at No. 186 on CRN's Solution Provider 500 ranking of the largest solution providers, winning the Top Newcomer Award with 250 employees and $139 million in revenue. FishNet today has more than 700 employees.

One longtime channel executive, who did not want to be identified, said he sees Fennessy's appointment as a classic case of an industry veteran replacing a founder that had "grown tired" or who lacked the drive or know-how to take the business to another level.

"Sometimes you need someone to come in with a different perspective," said the executive. "Gary Fish was CEO for a very long time. It's time for something different. It is kind of like a basketball team with the best 7-foot center deciding it is time to rely on a point guard. Sometimes you need to mix it up."

FishNet earlier this month said it plans to acquire rival solution provider TorreyPoint in a deal set to combine two of the largest Juniper Networks partners in North America.