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Datto’s Rob Rae: There’s Massive Opportunity For The Channel Right Now

C.J. Fairfield

“Right now more than ever, this is a massive opportunity for all of us. We talk about an impending recession, we talk about the pandemic, and yet we all thrive through it. We’re all making money. Datto, this little crappy company out of Connecticut started by a 25-year-old who just wanted beer money, just sold for $6.2 billion.” - Rob Rae, senior vice president of business development at Datto.

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Datto’s Rob Rae

Although the country is still dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic and is potentially headed toward a recession, Rob Rae, senior vice president of business development at Datto, said this is good for MSPs.

“Right now more than ever, this is a massive opportunity for all of us,” said Rae (pictured). “We talk about an impending recession, we talk about the pandemic, and yet we all thrive through it. We’re all making money. Datto, this little crappy company out of Connecticut started by a 25-year-old who just wanted beer money just sold for $6.2 billion. This is insane, the amount of money that is flowing through this industry. Things have changed and grown and we‘re all thriving through this.”

Rae spoke at IT By Design’s Build IT Live conference in Jersey City, N.J., last week about how MSPs can protect their customers through mitigating risks as cybercrimes wreak havoc on the global economy.

[Related: ITBD CEO ON CULTURE, M&A AND THE KASEYA/DATTO DEAL]

“We all know that we need to be in cybersecurity,” he said. “We‘ve all been thinking about it and working on it and developing our programs and whatnot. The messaging is getting more and more clear and your market is starting to understand it a little bit better.”

Rae said the biggest challenge is most MSPs are technical in nature, so when they talk to their customers about cyber risks, the message gets lost.

“I am the guy that asks the stupid questions over and over and over again, and I‘m not afraid to do it,” he said. “I’ve actually learned throughout my career that the dumber questions you ask, the more you learn.”

What he likes to do, he said, is put the topic of cybercrime into layman’s terms so that the end user understands it and isn’t left scratching their head.

“If you actually take a look at any newspaper online, anything that you read from a media perspective, it‘s all written at a grade five reading level,” he said. “They do it because they don’t assume the average person is smart enough to read and comprehend what it is that they‘re actually communicating. And the same thing goes when you’re positioning what it is that you‘re doing and how you’re doing it.”

Musing On Kaseya’s Acquisition Of Datto

While Rae mostly discussed how MSPs can talk with their customers about cybersecurity, he did mention Kaseya’s recently completed acquisition of Datto a few times. Mammoth vendor Kaseya closed its $6.2 billion deal to buy Norwalk, Conn.-based competitor Datto in June.

“I just celebrated my ninth year with Datto,” Rae said. “Yes, we were recently acquired. Yes, we‘ve been all over the news. Yes. I’m super happy to talk about it for the millionth time at the bar tonight. I understand the concerns. I completely understand the concerns. And all of us, like all human beings, hate change. We hate change because change means something is potentially going to fall apart.”

He told MSPs if they just partnered with Datto and have concerns now about being under Kaseya, he was willing to talk about it “for the millionth time.”

Yet he called this era “the golden age” for the channel and MSPs.

“I talked about the golden age of managed services, when you reflect back to a certain time and go, ‘You know what, those years were really, really good,’” he said. “We‘re in that golden age right now. We are experiencing and we’re growing and we‘re thriving through this, and we’re going to continue to do that if we get it right.”

He anticipates those in the channel to look back at the pandemic and say, “That was good for business.”

The Value Of The Channel

He said as far as MSPs go, consolidation, cyberattacks, and tech and labor shortages are dominating the industry right now.

“SMBs buying services from an IT provider worldwide is a $185 billion market,” he said. “This is why we‘re seeing so much investment coming from VCs [venture capitalists] and private equities and mergers and acquisitions, all the things that are hopefully making us all a lot more money.”

But the most valuable asset an MSP has is their education and knowledge.

“If you can get the knowledge and information out of your head and translate it into end-user speak, you‘re going to win all day long,” he said. “Be the expert in your area, be that expert in your town, be that expert amongst your client base. They need the services and the value of what it is that you bring more so than ever before.”

Marco Prieto, in-house manager for TAB Computer Systems, an East Hartford, Conn.-based MSP, said Rae’s advice to put technical terms into layman’s terms for his customers is helpful.

“I try to work on that, but I’m not perfect,” he told CRN. “I do fall, at the end of the day, towards the technical aspect because that’s where I’m familiar. But I do try to make it easier, something more relatable, to the client.”

 

C.J. Fairfield

CJ Fairfield is an associate editor at CRN covering solution providers, MSPs and distributors. Prior to joining CRN, she worked at daily newspapers, including The Press of Atlantic City in New Jersey and The Frederick News-Post in Maryland. She can be reached at cfairfield@thechannelcompany.com.

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