‘Next-Generation’ MSP Thrive Buys App-Focused Firm

Thrive, which focuses on the infrastructure side of digital transformation, cloud services, and cybersecurity, has acquired fellow MSP Timlin to give it expertise on the Microsoft application side of the business.


Thrive, a managed services provider focused heavily on the infrastructure side of the business, has acquired Timlin Enterprises, a provider of applications and services around the Microsoft 365 platform.

The acquisition, unveiled Wednesday, was for an undisclosed value.

It brings Thrive, a “next-generation” MSP, together with a traditional MSP, said Rob Stephenson, CEO of Foxborough, Mass.-based Thrive.

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“We’re a ‘nextgen’ managed service provider,” Stephenson told CRN. “Traditional MSPs sell a lot of hardware and projects, and slap on maintenance. Our focus is on making applications appear everywhere and work everywhere. The world is moving towards digital transformation. But we have been on the forefront of driving customers to the cloud with full security.”

Timlin, on the other hand, brings to Thrive a delivery platform for the entire Microsoft stack, including Microsoft 365, Microsoft Teams, SharePoint, and more, Stephenson said.

“Thrive is a big Azure shop, but does not have the development experience Timlin brings,” he said. “We’re one of the largest cloud service providers in the U.S. Northeast, and we do a lot of Microsoft 365 management and services, and Azure management. But we haven’t done application development. We’ve focused on the infrastructure layer. Timlin focuses on the app layer.”

Thrive, ranked No. 278 on CRN’s 2020 Solution Provider 500 list, was founded as Thrive Networks in 2000. It changed hands several times, including a 2007 acquisition by Staples and the 2014 sale by Staples to MetTel. Thrive Networks and Compute IT Solutions merged in 2016 with an investment from MC Partners, and reformed as Thrive, Stephenson said.

Since then Thrive has acquired six companies, with those acquisitions primarily aimed at expanding geographic reach, he said.

Thrive currently has about 750 customers, and expects the capabilities that come with Marlborough, Mass.-based Timlin to quickly penetrate 10 to 20 percent of those clients, Stephenson said. Thrive’s services will also go to Timlin’s customer base, he said.

“Our single-largest vertical is financial services, followed by cybersecurity services,” he said. “We’ve already started having conversations with Timlin’s customers about infrastructure and cybersecurity.”

Timlin is a profitable company, and its entire leadership is coming on board with Thrive, Stephenson said.

Because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, Thrive and Timlin did about 50 percent of their negotiations via Microsoft Teams meetings and 50 percent face-to-face, Stephenson said. Documents for the acquisition were signed remotely, he said.

While many companies suffered from shutdowns caused by the pandemic, Thrive in the third calendar quarter had its biggest quarter in terms of sales ever because of its digital transformation, cloud services, and cybersecurity focuses, Stephenson said.

“We’ve seen a lot of customers with their own internal IT teams looking for help with cloud and disaster recovery projects,” he said. “Our funnel for Q4 is the strongest it’s ever been by at least double.”