Kaseya’s Miami Heat Arena Naming Rights Brings Mixed Reviews, Community Program Funding: 5 Things To Know

‘I view it as adding further to the [MSP] community,’ says Michael Goldstein, CEO of LAN Infotech, a Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.-based solution provider, ‘I applaud it. I look at is as a cool thing that’s out there. It couldn’t be a better advertising piece and great naming exposure.’

Kaseya’s purchase of the naming rights to the stadium that is home to the Miami Heat basketball team came with a $117 million price tag, applause from some Kaseya MSPs and criticism from Datto’s founder.

The deal, disclosed April 4, will also see Kaseya contribute millions of dollars to stop gun violence in the Miami area where the company is based.

The company’s move to dub the building Kaseya Center has largely been a publicity win, with numerous local newspapers, TV stations and sports blogs running pieces that aim to answer the question, “What is Kaseya?” for a non-tech audience. The MSP operations company, which sells more than 30 products to thousands of solution providers, isn’t well-known outside the channel.

The naming rights win vaults Kaseya into the same ether as household names such as Philips, TD Bank, Barclays, Spectrum, United Airlines, Quicken Loans, Pepsi and Oracle, all of which, like Kaseya, have paid for sponsorships of NBA stadiums.

The deal also gives Kaseya a chance to play hometown hero after the previous rights-holder, FTX Trading, declared bankruptcy. That left Miami-Dade County officials with no sponsor to cover millions of dollars in obligations to the Miami Heat as well as social programs that needed funding.

Many social programs in Miami-Dade County will benefit from Kaseya’s largesse since 70 percent of the naming-rights cash, some $83.2 million, will go fund the Anti-Gun Violence and Prosperity Initiatives Trust Fund.

Kaseya CEO Fred Voccola said the deal helps the company’s thousands of MSPs through increased marketing exposure.

“We knew this partnership would also benefit our customers,” Voccola said in an interview with sports blog Hot Hot Hoops. “Our customers are the driving factor in the decisions we make at Kaseya. This news brings both Kaseya and our customers national brand recognition.”

Voccola credited Kaseya’s chief marketing officer Michael Sanders with the idea, according to the interview.

“Once we realized it was possible, it was clearly an opportunity we couldn’t pass up,” Voccola said.

Kaseya executives were unavailable for comment, according to a company spokesperson.

Several MSPs applauded the move, praising Voccola’s savvy for taking steps to amp up the company’s brand recognition.

Michael Goldstein, CEO of LAN Infotech, a Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.-based solution provider, told CRN that it is a branding coup for Voccola and “puts Kaseya a little bigger on the non-MSP map.”

“I view it as adding further to the [MSP] community,” he said. “I applaud it. I look at it as a cool thing that’s out there. It couldn’t be a better advertising piece and great naming exposure.”

But not everyone is a fan of the deal. One notable critic is Datto founder and former CEO Austin McChord, who questioned the value to Kaseya’s MSP customers.

“There is no world in which there ever would have been a Datto Stadium. That just doesn’t help MSPs,” he said in a social media post.

Kaseya, which is largely backed by the venture capital firms Insight Partners and TPG, bought Datto last year for $6.2 billion, taking the company private.

Click through the slideshow to read five of the most important things to know about the Kaseya Center naming rights deal.

Kaseya Won A Five-Way Race Unanimously

Kaseya won a five-way race for the naming rights that will keep “Kaseya Center” on the building until June 30, 2040, according to county records.

Also eyeing the naming rights were Wild Fork Foods, Aroma 360, iHeartRadio and UBS, said Jimmy Morales, chief operations officer for Miami-Dade County, according to a transcript of comments during an April 4 meeting of Miami-Dade County commissioners.

Only Aroma 360 submitted a financial offer, which Morales said was “significantly below” Kaseya’s proposal. The interest from iHeart Radio conflicted with other sponsors as did the UBS offer, he said. The other bidder quit without making an offer.

“Despite what happened with FTX, we did not want the property to be viewed as a distressed property. We are not going to be doing a fire sale,” Morales said, according to the transcript.

Financial advisory firm PFM first introduced Kaseya to county officials, county records show, and Morales said an intense period of negotiation followed between Kaseya and the city. Numerous councilors said the proposal was rushed through, and they wanted more time to learn about other offers, but haste won out, with Kaseya being unanimously awarded the naming rights in a vote on April 4.

Financial Guarantees Required To Secure The Deal

In March 2021, Miami-Dade County signed a 19-year $135 million deal with cryptocurrency company FTX Trading to rename the home of the NBA’s Miami Heat as the FTX Arena, according to county records. The deal fell apart with the company’s sudden collapse and bankruptcy in 2022.

This time county officials wanted some financial guarantees from their would-be sponsor. To that end, Kaseya gave officials a letter from Bank of America regarding its relationship with the company, along with a letter from Golub Capital Markets indicating Kaseya currently has access to $400 million in revolving credit.

Additionally, Kaseya had to supply the county with a $7.5 million “irrevocable letter of credit” from an AA-rated financial institution, which will be used to back the next three payments Kaseya owes the county in the event of a default. In order to keep its sponsorship, Kaseya will need to keep those letters current for the entire 17 years of the agreement.

The deal is structured so that Kaseya pays less up front and more towards the back of the contract, but according to Morales, what sold officials is that Kaseya put in an offer to fund the county’s Anti-Gun Violence and Prosperity Initiative that is $3.5 million more than what FTX would have paid.

‘Why Kaseya? We wanted to at least get as much money as we would have gotten over the next 17 years. We are in fact getting $3.5 million more over that 17-year period,” Morales said.

McChord Once Again Criticizes Kaseya On Social Media

Datto founder Austin McChord (pictured)—who criticized Kaseya leadership last year for its handling of Datto post-acquisition—said he did not see the benefit to Kaseya’s MSP customers in branding a sports stadium.

“There is no world in which there ever would have been a Datto Stadium. That just doesn’t help MSPs,” he said on Reddit, in comments he confirmed to CRN were authentic.

He compared the stadium naming to the flashy style that characterized the building’s previous namesake, FTX.

“That money could have gone so much further to help MSPs and the customers they serve,” he wrote on Reddit. “When Datto chose its stock ticker symbol, we chose ‘MSP’ for a reason. Because MSPs are what made us successful and allowed us to build the business we did. We didn’t want a single employee to forget that. We wanted our customers to know how much we cared about them and we wanted to show that. The stadium name is the same hubris as FTX or Crypto.com stadium. Ugh.”

McChord stepped down as Datto CEO in 2018 but retained a seat on the board until the company was sold to Kaseya.

MSPs Offer Mixed Reviews Of Kaseya’s Deal

Kaseya spending $117 million to rename the Miami Heat’s arena has led to mixed reviews from the channel, with some partners saying the Kaseya Center deal is a great marketing move and others echoing McChord’s sentiment that it does nothing to help MSPs.

Jason Wright, CEO of Houston-based MSP Avatar Computer Solutions, likes Kaseya’s strategy.

“When they acquired Datto, I knew there would be a lot of turmoil related to it. But from a Kaseya standpoint, it was a brilliant move,” Wright told CRN. “Their brand was being diluted, so now they’re looking at things to promote brand awareness to give this impression that they’re a global player and a dominate player in the marketplace.”

Phil Walker, CEO of Manhattan Beach, Calif.-based MSP Network Solutions Provider, said renaming the stadium was a good business move and great marketing for the company.

“For a company in our space to be at that level is great,” he said. “I think Kaseya’s mission is to always help MSPs in the community. What they’ve built in terms of a platform, it has a lot of advantages for MSPs. At the end of the day, the main thing MSPs have to focus on is that the bottom line of their businesses grows and to partner with companies that are going to help them grow. Kaseya has had that commitment.”

Other MSPs questioned the benefit of the deal to Kaseya’s MSP customer base.

“It’s too localized. I don’t see how it benefits my MSP in California. Do you think it matters what is on the outside of the [Miami] arena in [Los Angeles]?” said Mark Essayian, president of KME Systems, an MSP in Lake Forrest, Calif., who has been using Datto since 2013. “I don’t care. I care about my prices. Does this increase my Datto cost?”

Michael Cervino, president of Radnor, Pa.-based MSP Circle Square, thinks the move is a “really bad decision considering their reputation for price increases.”

“It’s very tone deaf,” he told CRN. “It just reinforces that Kaseya is absolutely not in touch with the MSP community.”

Kaseya Sees Funding For Community Program To Curb Gun Violence As Key Part Of The Deal

Prior to the financial ruin of FTX, its relationship with Miami-Dade county was unique.

Seventy percent of the cash from the naming rights deal is set aside for an Anti-Gun Violence and Prosperity Initiative Trust Fund, meaning whatever sponsor the city found would need to be capable of supporting those initiatives as well.

The program works in a similar fashion to the Community Development Block Grants that are given to municipalities on the federal level. In this case, millions of dollars from Kaseya will each year be set aside to run neighborhood programs in Miami-Dade county.

Voccola said the opportunity to help the local community was “an important part” of the company’s decision to invest in the naming-rights deal.

“Continuing to invest in the Miami-Dade County community was an important part of our decision process,” Voccola said in the interview on Hot Hot Hoops. “As part of our deal with Miami-Dade County and the Miami Heat, funds will be designated to the Peace and Prosperity Plan which is focused on curbing gun violence in Miami-Dade. The program takes a strategic approach that addresses the social and economic disparities at the root of gun violence. We will also partner with Miami HEAT on various community programs to benefit the citizens of our community. Kaseya has always strived to help the community, and we’re grateful that we can continue to do that through this deal.”

Daniella Levine Cava, the Democratic mayor of the county whose office worked to quickly bring the deal to county commissioners, has a carve-out of $200,000 that allows her office to pay for initiatives such as Project THUG Inc. a mentorship program that promotes education and vocational training for youth.

District 3 Commissioner Keon Hardemon, one of the commissioners who spearheaded the trust fund in 2021, said if they are well executed, programs like this can lead to less money being spent on policing in high crime areas, according to a meeting transcript.

“We’re investing into the social network that these children have to ensure they have an opportunity to pick up a book instead of a gun. Or a tool instead of a firearm,” said Hardemon, who also sponsored the legislation that awarded Kaseya the naming rights. “We hear the cries of our mothers. We hear the cries of the fathers of our community that when their children are gunned down in our neighborhoods, they need an opportunity … For so long we knew these problems existed, but we made no investment into these programs. Instead, we gave them ‘hopes, prayers’ and lip service. That can’t be our legacy.”