Datto’s Rob Rae Joins Pax8: 5 Things To Know

On leaving Datto after nearly 10 years, Rob Rae says it felt like a death. Here are other takeaways to know about Rae joining Pax8.

Denver-based distributor Pax8 has snagged Rob Rae, the longtime face of Datto and a passionate advocate for MSPs, as the corporate vice president of community and ecosystems, a new role in the company.

“Going through this interview process and meeting with a number of different organizations through this process, their view and passion for the growth of the MSP is second to none,” Rae said of Pax8.

In his new role as corporate vice president of communities and ecosystems, Rae will continue to improve and grow MSP relationships, provide guidance and consultation to implement new programs and partner with the Pax8’s channel team on industry events and community operations. He will also be hosting Pax8’s inaugural Beyond 2023 conference in June.

Nick Heddy, Pax8 chief commerce officer, said “similarities in our DNA” make Rae and Pax8 a good fit. Pax8 is all about helping MSPs grow their business and Rae will be the subject matter expert on that very topic, he said.

“What I love about Rob‘s title and why a lot of people think it’s very avant garde is absolutely where we‘re going,” Heddy said, explaining that Rae’s role will include influencing and amplifying what Pax8’s vendor partners do.

“An ecosystem is the scientific definition of a group of organisms and how they interact with each other and their environments,” Heddy said. “Rob is absolutely going to bring that channel, that MSP lens into everything we do at Pax8. He‘s going to amplify that message into every department and every stakeholder that we have. Rob has done a great job of developing that brand and we just want to take the amazing work he’s been doing for 25 years and amplify it through the Pax8 lens.”

Here are five things to know about Rae moving to Pax8.

Leaving Datto Was ‘Almost Like A Death’

Rae comes to Pax8 after nearly 10 years at Datto, which he left in October just months after Miami-based Kaseya bought the company for $6.2 billion, even after Kaseya CEO Fred Voccola said Rae would be staying on after the acquisition.

Rae said leaving his previous employer was hard for a couple of different reasons.

“It was hard, it was really hard because you live and breath something for 10 years and then you just stand up and don‘t do it,” he told CRN. “It’s almost like a death.”

He said he was at the point in his career where he had to stick with Datto for the long haul or make a move.

“I‘m kind of at that point in my career where I’m either going to have to stick it out with them for the rest of it or I’m still young enough, and this channel is still growing fast enough, that there‘s opportunities to go and do more things, try new things and do different things,” he said.

“Fortunately I developed really strong relationships with partners and I was able to maintain a lot of those relationships and connections with the MSP channel over the last couple of months while I‘ve been looking for what the next journey is. This whole community is like a tight family and it’s just really hard. On top of that, nobody‘s emailing you, which is weird. There’s no meetings in the calendar, which is also weird. The first couple of weeks I was really antsy and really uncomfortable but then I started finding my stride and going to Home Depot and perusing the shelves there.”

Pax8’s Culture Is A Right Fit

One thing many MSPs loved about Datto was its culture, so obviously it’s important to Rae.

“I mean, all cultures are different but it‘s similar from the perspective that it is a culture that wants to win, but it’s also a culture that is very nurturing of its employees,” he said. “I’ve watched this firsthand and i’ve been listening to how they approach things like HR and things like individual contributors within the organization. I haven‘t seen anything like it in a long time.

“Just watching these guys work, watching them interact with each other, talking to other Pax8 employees, seeing them out on the road…everybody‘s just so overwhelmingly happy with this company,” he added. “Why would you not want to be a part of it?”

Mark Essayian , president of Irvine, Calif.-based MSP KME Systems, said he is “shocked, but not shocked” about the jump to Pax8.

“I think it shows a lot about Pax8’s culture,” he told CRN. “I think they’ve got some really good, smart people there, and he’s going to bring a lot of experience and a lot of partner knowledge. A lot of partners are going to go, ‘Oh, he went there? I need to take a look at them again,’ or, ‘I don’t really do business with them but now I should do business with them.’”

There’s Been Much Speculation About Rae Joining Pax8

For months the channel has speculated where Rae would go next after leaving Datto with many guessing correctly that he would land at Pax8.

It‘s funny because…it’s like this worst-kept secret and I think that’s probably going to be the reaction of everybody, like everybody knew this was going to happen,” Rae said. “But there were rumors, even Nick [Heddy, chief commerce officer at Pax8] and I connected about it and said, ‘Are you hearing these rumors because I’m hearing these rumors.’ Apparently people are making up where we‘re all going to work next.”

Since departing Datto, Rae remained silent on where he was headed next as the Kaseya-Datto acquisition shook the channel and garnered a huge response from the partner community, leaving many questioning Rae’s next move.

“It has been fun to watch the different forums theorize what would be the best fit for Rob Rae,” Heddy, who Rae will be reporting to, told CRN. “Rob Rae has developed an amazing brand and what I admire about it is it‘s always been Rob Rae, a Datto employee, it’s never been Rob Rae the individual. I think a lot of people have theorized it would make perfect sense [to see the] evolution of Rob Rae, the Datto employee to Rob Rae, the ecosystem evangelist.”

Rae Is Hosting And Heavily Involved in Pax’s Inaugural Beyond 2023 Conference

In his new position, Rae hopes to be on the road again to get in front of MSPs to help them grow their business. His first conference will be attending the XChange conference in March in Orlando, which is hosted by CRN parent The Channel Company.

But his first big project will be Pax8’s inaugural Beyond conference in June.

“I’m actually excited about this for a couple different reasons,” Rae said. “The events that I actually enjoyed were the distribution-type shows. So coming into it, for me personally, they’ve got that particular angle where the partnership isn‘t just trying to drive MSPs and sell more of that one product that we have. It is literally creating that ecosystem.”

He added that he hasn’t been to a,“good show like that” in a while.

“The focus is exclusively on MSPs, as opposed to just a reseller channel, and it is new and relevant and it’s continuing to focus on growth of those MSPs rather than just selling more stuff or training them how to use a system better. I think there‘s lots of opportunity there to expand what you can do in this medium to be able to really engage, work with and build that relationship stronger with partners.”

He's Committed More Than Ever To Partners

While he said he has a lot to learn, Rae stressed that it’s all about focusing on partner growth.

“I think it‘s just going to take a little bit of time to learn a lot of it and the way in which business is done,” he said. “I’m jumping on a train that‘s already moving a million miles per hour, and it will take me a while to catch up to their speed and be able to jump on that actual train. I think it’s just trying to learn as much as I can, as quickly as I can, without slowing them down. I think that’s probably going to be the biggest challenge.”

But partners foresee Rae continuing to do great things for the channel.

“I‘m super excited to see what he’s going to do with Pax8,” Heather Simek, vice president of RJ2 Technologies, a Schaumburg, Ill.-based MSP, told CRN. “I think he’s going to make people look at Pax8 a little more, if they‘re not already partners, because they trust Rob. He would not go work for a company that isn’t worth looking at.”

And despite being in a new role in a new company, his commitment remains the same.

“You‘re not getting rid of me that easily,” he said. “Unfortunately, you’re going to have to continue to deal with me, and in my mind, my agenda is still the same. It‘s going to be growth. It’s going to be growth for everybody. I‘m here to help in any which way that I possibly can and I think that’s what I‘ve been able to build success on.”