Founder Of A Top Microsoft Cloud Partner, New Signature, Steps Down

New Signature Founder Chris Hertz is departing after helping the rising star capture two Microsoft U.S. Partner of the Year awards and obtaining a massive private equity investment.

Hertz told CRN he plans to spend the next couple of months with his three-year-old daughter before either starting a company or joining a firm in the ISV software space. The Washington D.C.-based systems integrator Hertz leaves behind has grown by 240 percent over the past three years, and has made five key acquisitions over the past 18 months to get into new technology areas and geographies.

"The company is doing really, really well. It's on a really good course," Hertz said. "If I didn't take advantage of the timing, I would be kicking myself in a decade."

[RELATED: Super Microsoft SI New Signature Gets $35M, Names New CEO]

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Hertz served as New Signature's CEO for 12 years before obtaining $35 million in funding from Columbia Capital in April 2015. As part of that deal, Hertz shifted over to the role of president, while Jeff Tench - who ran cloud video managed services company Teliris, until it was sold to Dimension Data in May 2014 - joined as New Signature's new CEO.

Hertz was ran New Signature's sales and operations teams in North America in his new role, and Tench said that Hertz brought a tremendous amount of energy around technology, customer experience, business outcomes and Microsoft to the table.

"Chris has a very engaging personality driving his passion," Tench said. "He's leaving the business in great shape and with a tremendous amount of momentum."

At the same time, Tench said New Signature is the "same in name only" as the company Hertz ran for 12 years, with the company at least quadrupling its headcount over the past 18 months to 300 employees as New Signature for the first time established a foothold in the Southeastern U.S. and the United Kingdom.

"We'll miss him, but we're in a large enough position now that no one person's departure impacts the company fundamentally," Tench said. "The entire company has evolved dramatically over a short period of time.

Over the past three years, Hertz said New Signature has doubled down around cloud services, advanced analytics, artificial intelligence, the securing of mobile devices and data, and Microsoft Azure's Platform-as-a-Service capabilities. During that time, New Signature beat out 20,000 competitors and became the first and only Microsoft partner to twice be awarded its highest honor - U.S. Partner of the Year.

"There's a lot of cool transformation we've done with Office 365," Hertz said.

Hertz's direct reports will begin reporting to Tench, and New Signature has no immediate plans to name a replacement in the role of president, Tench said. All of the founders and key executives from the other companies New Signature has acquired over the past 18 months remain with the company, Tench said.

The news of Hertz's departure was shared with New Signature staff Monday and with Microsoft and other key partners Tuesday, Tench said. Hertz transitioned to an advisory role Friday, and his last official day as a New Signature employee is at the end of the month.

There wasn't a plan in place for Hertz to transition out of New Signature as part of Columbia Capital's investment last year, but Tench acknowledged that executive departures can sometimes be a byproduct of bringing several companies together.

"It's inevitable that certain folks will leave along the way," Tench said.

Hertz said the decision to leave crystallized fairly rapidly for him based on the impressive state of New Signature's business and confidence that he could step away and things would continue to go well. Hertz said New Signature has fully integrated its five recent acquisitions – four of which took place in 2015 – and the company is firing on all cylinders.

"This wasn't something that was in the works for a long time," Hertz said.

Going forward, New Signature plans to carry out additional mergers and acquisitions in the U.K. to build upon the capabilities of its May purchase of Dot Net Solutions, Tench said. In North America, Tench said New Signature plans to organically grow its sales operations and technical support teams as it continues to develop a consistent approach for the internal operations of the companies it recently acquired.

For now, Hertz said he plans to spend more time with family. On Friday, Hertz took his three-year-old daughter to the pumpkin patch, something Hertz said he never would have been able to do on a normal weekday.
Hertz plans to spend the next two or three months thinking about what he wants to do in the future, and has already set up several conversations with people he considers to be thought leaders in the industry.

"My wife is betting on when I'll get bored," Hertz said. "I don't think I'm going to be out of the game very long."