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Huntress CEO: I Have ‘Mixed Optimism’ About Kaseya-Datto Deal

‘I think it’s going to be really important for these companies that are consolidating to see how they’re going to engage with their community. And if they don’t engage, times are going to be tough. If they engage … I think there’s going to be excellent opportunity to prove everybody wrong,’ says Huntress CEO Kyle Hanslovan.

Kyle Hanslovan, founder and CEO of threat research firm Huntress, has mixed emotions about Kaseya acquiring Datto.

Some in the MSP community think that the blockbuster merger is great for the partner community, while others believe there could be many bumps in the road in merging the two companies.

“I think it’s going to be really important for these companies that are consolidating to see how they’re going to engage with their community,” he told CRN. “And if they don’t engage, times are going to be tough. If they engage … I think there’s going to be excellent opportunity to prove everybody wrong.”

While he sees a lot of good coming out of the acquisition, including increased investments in software and solutions, particularly in remote monitoring and management (RMM) and professional services automation (PSA), he can see pitfalls as well, such as competition between Kaseya and ConnectWise dividing the community.

CRN spoke with Hanslovan to get his thoughts on how the merger impacts MSPs, Kaseya security and how the merged companies can work to enhance engagement to better serve the partner community.

 

What are your thoughts on the Kaseya-Datto deal? 

I have mixed feelings, but I think there’s opportunity. More money in these types of acquisitions are actually really good for our community, so I’m pretty pumped. But the reason I’m feeling mixed is what do you do with the opportunity? Datto has just been acquired, there’s consolidation and the community seems to be just as mixed as I am. I think it’s going to be really important for these companies that are consolidating to see how they’re going to engage with their community. And if they don’t engage, times are going to be tough. If they engage … I think there’s going to be excellent opportunity to prove everybody wrong.

I always take that glass-half-full approach, I just think with this one I’m coming in with some mixed optimism.

 

Do you think this deal is good for MSPs or bad for MSPs?

I think it could be what Kaseya wants it to be. For instance, if we see … massive price increases that have happened in previous acquisitions, I don’t see how that is very positive for MSPs. But if the Datto team continues to innovate in their software, keep it very modern, keep the updates coming, keep them secure, there’s a lot opportunity there and obviously that’s good for the MSPs, specifically on the RMM and PSA platforms. Autotask and Datto RMM are pretty hot up-and-coming technologies, even though I would argue that they were second to Kaseya and ConnectWise. For Kaseya partners, having the potential opportunity to be able to use Datto’s prices, Datto’s products and maybe the integration that Kaseya customers like, that seems like a big win.

But I’m going to go on the other side and say it’s all about the leadership team that’s put in place. I think if Tim Weller [Datto CEO] is leaving Datto, then the community is losing some of that [being] in touch with what the partners want. Kaseya has got to be able to complement that gap or it’ll be a big loss for everybody.

 

Do you think the Kaseya-Datto deal puts pressure on ConnectWise?

Remember, it was the big four—it was Continuum, ConnectWise, Datto and Kaseya—and now it’s the big two. ... It now puts Kaseya and ConnectWise squarely as the two largest titans. It’s going to be good for the community because if they have that direct rivalry they’re going to have to improve products, they’re going to have to improve community involvement and improve commitments. That’s why I’m so positive about this situation. Although I could see how it could become really bad. My worry is it could become very divisive, and I just hope that doesn’t happen in the community.

 

How do you think Kaseya’s security stacks up?

I’ve been told that they are spending quite a bit to refresh their code base and improve internal processes, but that’s still to be said. You have to earn that, that’s just a statement. ConnectWise did the same thing about a year and a half ago when it said, ‘We’re coming out with our transparency center.’ They stood up a whole threat operations team to be able to talk about how these incidents were going down. But I think the real smoking gun is still to be seen. I do know that anybody with a 20-year-old code base has to refresh. I don’t know 100 percent how [Kaseya] stacks up yet. It’s still too early to know.

 

What do you want to see from the merged companies going forward?

Transparency and better investments in technology, especially the core technology that could be used to deploy ransomware. I want to see better investments. I do believe Datto probably has the newer, more mature code base. I hope when they try to merge these two massive companies they really assess what the more secure, more modern solutions are and they don’t just go with a legacy solution.

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