Terry Richardson On Why He Left AMD, GreenPages’ Technology Chops, And The AI Opportunity

New GreenPages CRO Terry Richardson speaks with CRN about why he left AMD, GreenPages’ ‘strong’ technical team, and the opportunity for ‘big growth’ ahead in cloud, cybersecurity and AI.

An Opportunity For ‘Big Growth’

New GreenPages CRO Terry Richardson says he sees “big growth” ahead for the fast-growing cloud and cybersecurity CRN SP500 powerhouse.

“I see nothing but opportunity for big growth,” said Richardson in an exclusive interview with CRN. “I will be really disappointed if as we have conversations in the future, you have not seen a lot of significant progress in terms of the growth and scale of GreenPages.”

Richardson, who stepped down as AMD North America Channel Chief just two weeks ago, takes the CRO position with GreenPages, No. 142 on the 2022 CRN Fast Growth 150 list and No. 169 on the 2022 CRN Solution Provider 500, posting a three-year compound annual growth rate of 401 percent for cybersecurity, 62 percent for cloud subscription services and 17 percent for managed services

Richardson said he sees opportunity for both organic and inorganic growth ahead for GreenPages.

As for organic growth, Richardson said he sees an almost “limitless opportunity” to expand the net-new account footprint.

“There is not a company I can think of that is not concerned about cybersecurity or how to properly leverage the cloud for some of their key applications and workloads,” he said.

As for inorganic growth, Richardson will play a role in helping evaluate potential acquisition targets. With the backing of GreenPages private equity owner Abry Partners, there are sure to be additional acquisition opportunities, said Richardson.

“GreenPages has made a couple of acquisitions this year to increase its capabilities,” he said. “And my understanding is there’s an appetite for future acquisitions just to continue to expand and evolve our capabilities.”

In February, GreenPages acquired Toronto-based Zanaris, an IT automation, cloud and DevOps services firm, and Arcas Risk Management, a Middleton, Mass.-based risk management company.

GreenPages President Joshua Dinneen said the company will do at least one more acquisition this year and potentially three. “We have good line of sight [on potential acquisition targets],” he said. “I know a couple of exciting opportunities for us. We’ll continue to drive those processes and hopefully we’ll come out on the winning side of some of those.”

Greenpages CEO Ron Dupler

Greenpages CEO Ron Dupler

After more than three decades on the vendor side of the channel, what attracted you to GreenPages?

There were five major reasons. The first thing is I’ve certainly known GreenPages, but I am impressed with the leadership team: [CEO] Ron [Dupler], [President] Josh [Dinneen], [Chief Information and Chief Security Officer] Jay [Pasteris] and the rest of the team are top-notch.

The transformation progress that GreenPages has made is the second reason. A lot of companies are working to pivot to address today’s market requirements, and GreenPages is pretty far along their journey with a specialty focus around security and cloud and managed services while continuing to be able to credibly perform infrastructure modernization work for their customers. So I like the transformation. It’s not complete, It’s never over. But I think GreenPages is ahead of many with the type of pivot that they wanted to make to be increasingly relevant for their customers and meeting the needs of today and tomorrow.

The third reason that I wanted to join GreenPages was I felt like I was being offered a compelling opportunity to drive top- and bottom-line growth and to really make an impact. That’s important to me. I think the company values my experience and perspectives and has given me an opportunity to come in with a fresh set of eyes and look at things that could be optimized to help accelerate the performance.

The fourth thing that attracted me as I got to know GreenPages even better was their technical skills and capabilities to deliver customer outcomes. The technical team is really, really strong at GreenPages. I’ve known for many years that’s the key to success in a lot of customer situations. That is what separates some of the strong and proficient solution providers from others.

The fifth reason and these aren’t in order, because this is an important one, is the financial backing of Abry Partners. I was impressed with the Abry partner that I spent some time with and feel like not only can I be a real value to Abry in my role at GreenPages, but perhaps leverage some of my go-to-market skills and expertise across some of their other portfolio companies.

You have worked with thousands of solution providers. How big is the transformation that GreenPages has pulled off?

They are definitely further along than many in terms of pivoting toward a monthly recurring revenue model because of their capabilities, especially around cloud and managed services.

GreenPages has done a nice job scaling up their sales organization to address today’s customer challenges, modifying the comp plan appropriately to continue to incent the sellers. And to deliver the true services capabilities needed to be very relevant.

What are your top priorities as you take on the CRO role?

First and foremost is really getting to know the people. I know some GreenPages employees, but not most. So I’m looking forward to spending time not only with the sales team, but across the internal ecosystem, and making sure that there’s tight alignment from how we show ourselves from a marketing standpoint to presales engagement to sales focus areas. I’m looking forward to meeting all the talented technical services personnel. I want to understand the people who are a big part of this company’s success. I want to really understand what is making GreenPages perform so well.

The second area I want to focus on is our vendor partners. We have a number of strategic vendor partners that GreenPages relies on to augment our own core capabilities. I want to spend time with those partners, making sure that there’s a well-defined go-to-market plan that both companies are executing against and, of course, there will be a need to do some prioritization to make sure that we’re driving maximum benefit out of the partnership and then look to see if there’s any gaps in the portfolio where it makes sense to introduce new partners and solutions.

The third area, of course, is no surprise given the chief revenue officer role. I want to get to know the GreenPages customers. GreenPages enjoys a lot of loyal and long-tenured customer relationships and continues to add new customers. I want to understand customer motivations and how they perceive GreenPages—not only for projects that have been completed but those they are contemplating for the future.

I’m also going to take a keen look at what’s the company’s capability to attract new customers because I think that’s a core element of success for any solution provider’s business.

The fourth thing will be a little bit of an internal look at just making sure that the internal processes are streamlined so we can maximize sales productivity.

The fifth thing—after completing the first four—will be defining the growth strategy, not only top-line growth, but even more importantly EBITDA growth, to continue to increase the value of the company.
So that is how I expect to spend my first 30 to 45 days at the company.

What do you bring to the table that is unique coming from the channel chief side and how that might help GreenPages?

A part of it is just having a clear and concise strategy. So as it relates to partners, we need to make sure that we’re leveraging each other’s strengths and tapping into any available market development funds and other resources to help grow the mutual business. I believe in a plan. There will need to be some prioritization. But I’m also looking for consistency. One of my earliest observations coming into this job is some of the partners that are really strong in the Northeast are not the same set that the team in the Southeast are focused on. And so I want to understand how we can drive a little bit more consistency in the partner engagement model. Scale matters to partners and I think we have ability with the right focus to drive mutual growth.

On the sales side, it really comes down to focus and customer segmentation. GreenPages has a unique ability to reach the enterprise customer set and some of the broad, commercial, midmarket and SMB. But We’re also interested in expanding the customer presence in public sector. So I want to make sure the resources are optimized to the opportunity.

There’s a growing inside business development team that is taking the lead on a lot of new account acquisition activities. I want to make sure that they are really focused on some of the strongest potential prospects for the company based upon GreenPages’ core value proposition and our ability to leverage digital marketing and other techniques to get the GreenPages story out in front of those customers. Optimizing that will be important.

I’ve had an opportunity to lead inside sales teams and field sales teams, covering virtually every customer segment known to man, and with our resource model I just want to make sure that we have the resources focused on those segments of the market that can generate the highest return.

How much room is there to expand the new customer acquisition activity with net-new accounts?

It seems like an almost limitless opportunity given the capabilities of the company. There is not a company I can think of that is not concerned about cybersecurity or how to properly leverage the cloud for some of their key applications and workloads.

So I just want to make sure that the sales and marketing teams are focused on the opportunity and staying disciplined. I see nothing but opportunity for growth and expansion. I’m sure that’s probably what attracted Abry Partners to make the investment in GreenPages.

I feel like we’re just getting started going after a really significant opportunity given all the shifts in the market right now.

Is the future the Everything-as-a-Service model for the channel?

I think that’s a big part of it. On the solution provider side, the real challenge is making sure that there’s the appropriate suite of technical skill sets to help customers address their requirements.

Many customers are struggling to keep pace with the rate of change and the type of transformation they want to drive with some challenges in their own internal resource pool.

So being able to leverage GreenPages’ capabilities, both on presales consulting and advisory perspective, but also downstream with managed service capabilities is going to be important.

GreenPages has made a couple of acquisitions this year to increase its capabilities. And my understanding is there’s an appetite for future acquisitions just to continue to expand and evolve our capabilities.

How big could GreenPages be given customers’ need for managed services and cloud capabilities?

GreenPages has been on that journey. This is another inflection point for the company. I’m not going to predict the revenue that I expect the company to attain in the coming years.

I am here because I think the growth opportunity is significant. Of course, it’s going to require really fine execution. We don’t know what the macro environment is going to be like, but I think customers are going to have core needs, regardless of the macro environment. We need to make sure that we’re listening carefully to those needs and working to address them better than other alternatives they have. That is going to be the key to success. This is a significant growth opportunity.

What is your mood as you take this job given the solution provider dynamics at this point in time?

It’s the first time that I’m in a role working at a solution provider. That’s on the one hand very different but on the other hand very motivating and exciting. I think there will be continued consolidation in the industry. We have started to see some of the large national partners get larger through acquisition.

But I also think as new disruptive technologies come on board it is the channel that will drive those technologies. For almost four decades now, the channel has been in front of virtually every one of those technology transformations. I don’t see that changing anytime soon. So I continue to see the most successful vendors really embracing the channel. And I don’t see that changing in the foreseeable future.

What do you see as model going forward with managed services?

The fundamental shift that has been taking place is instead of leading with a product-based solution and having services follow, the paradigm has flipped.

It is really a services-led discussion where any talk of products may come way down the path in the sales cycle. It is that services area that can be of tremendous value to customers. As GreenPages looks to be that trusted adviser and a partner for life, they have earned that reputation with their services capabilities, which are directly related to the business objective and outcomes that the customers are seeking.

What’s the message to customers as you take on the new role?

If you are a current GreenPages customer, thank you and I look forward to meeting you and making sure my team is continuing to be well focused on serving your needs. If you are not familiar with GreenPages and you need some assistance on your cloud journey or with cybersecurity or with any kind of infrastructure modernization project, give us an opportunity to help explain what makes us different and better than other alternatives.

Why did you leave AMD to accept the new position as chief revenue officer of GreenPages?

I had some personal reasons to make the change. I wanted to limit a lot of my North America travel and be closer to home for personal reasons.

Having a company based in New England where a lot of my work can be done around the area or a relatively short flight to Florida or other Eastern Seaboard destinations was attractive.

Professionally, as long as I have been in this business, I have always sought an ability to make an impact. I felt like I was in a position to make a significant impact at GreenPages at an important time—even more than the impact I felt I was going to be able to continue to make at AMD.

Given the rate of change in the industry, I have a real sense of urgency around the commercial market opportunity and how to address the customer requirements. I felt I was now in a position to execute with an urgency to make sure we are successfully pivoting to be able to meet the needs of customers and to collaborate with a number of top-tier partners.

How do you feel about GreenPages and the ability to make an impact?

It feels like a fortuitous moment. When I decided to leave AMD, I honestly didn’t know what I was going to do next. A number of options presented themselves.

When I got a call from Josh out of the blue, I definitely expressed an interest in learning more. As I spent time with Josh and the team, I became incredibly energized about where GreenPages is in its journey, what is the vision for the future and how well aligned everyone on the management team is around not only the strategy and the important areas of focus, but the opportunities in front of us.

It has made me feel incredibly excited to be part of it. I have a voice, a seat at the table and another perspective. I think Josh has done a nice job of blending some longer-tenured GreenPages employees with some new adds over the course of the last year or two. I will be a new add to bring some different perspectives. I feel like the culture within the company is one that is very inclusive and open to input. I haven’t been given a playbook necessarily by Josh. He basically said, ‘Come in, assess, tell me what you think, and we’ll go from there.’

I am excited to kind of put my fingerprints on the future of the company and hopefully play an impactful role in having us achieve some longer-term goals.

How big could GreenPages be in the years ahead?

Like any regionally based solution provider, there are always opportunities to grow and serve the customers in the current markets that you serve by expanding your coverage model at the appropriate time and better leveraging partnerships.

There is always the opportunity for geographic expansion in tangential markets where it makes sense. If you have a well-honed customer value proposition that plays in New England, there is no reason that customer value proposition can’t play in other markets.

So we’ll be looking at that. And with the backing of Abry, I am sure there will be opportunities to continue to look at inorganic growth that might make sense to build out the company’s capabilities and the types of solutions and offerings we can put in front of customers.

I see nothing but opportunity for big growth. I will be really disappointed if you have not seen a lot of significant progress in terms of the growth and scale of GreenPages.

Are there any emerging technology opportunities that you are looking forward to focusing on as you take the job?

What I know about the current areas of focus are spot on for the market opportunity and where the business is headed. Looking to the future and today’s market environment, I want to better understand the company’s capability around AI. I think that’s going to be the conversation for customers in the second half of the year, if it is not already.

With the explosion of ChatGPT and other AI capabilities, I think that AI and the potential impact that technology brings is becoming top of mind. I want to understand GreenPages’ current and future capability in that area.

What vendors are actually helping to drive that AI conversation with customers?

My assessment is Nvidia is probably benefiting the most from the mindshare around AI. Certainly AMD, my former employer, is extremely focused on a pervasive AI strategy. The obvious OEMs that work with those types of companies ought to be sharpening their messaging and offerings to help customers address those requirements.

I think it is going to be an opportunity for the channel. It may not be deep, deep learning and these massive AI farms, but whether it is on-prem or in the cloud there is going to be a capability to leverage technology to drive efficiency and make better decisions.

How much of an opportunity is there to explore the public cloud provider relationships and drive those forward?

I am looking forward to digging in and rolling up my sleeves there because I think those partnerships are going to be incredibly important to a select set of solution providers. I think GreenPages has the capability in the work that we have done to be relevant in the conversation for on-prem, public and hybrid solutions.

I understand there are some consumption opportunities in the pipeline. I am looking forward to learning about those whether it is [HPE[ GreenLake, [Dell Technologies] Apex or [Lenovo] TruScale. It is going to be fun. Much like AMD afforded me the opportunity to work across the vendor OEM ecosystem, now I have the opportunity to work across a top-tier set of vendors not only in the traditional on-prem hardware infrastructure world, but also from cloud and software capability.

Not many executives have made the move from the channel chief world to the solution provider side. How do you see that opportunity benefiting GreenPages?

I understand that perspective when you are talking about any kind of mutual go-to-market planning and engagement in terms of what the vendor wants to get out of a partnership and what they expect out of a partner. Similarly, I also know what a partner expects out of the vendor. I think I have a strong understanding of that. I will bring that to the table for sure.

I also bring an understanding of how to navigate and prioritize partnerships. If we have obvious gaps in the portfolio, then I will be able to put together new partnership opportunities.

Vendors can only spend so much time with any given solution provider. I’ll try to pick carefully those we truly invest in. I’ll go into any partnership that wants to position GreenPages as their best partner in the markets that we are in together.

You have built long-term relationships in the channel. How important is that going to be at GreenPages?

I always go into any relationship with a viewpoint of how do you find the mutual win—the win for the vendor partner, the win for GreenPages and more importantly what is the win for the customer.

You need to go into each engagement trying to ensure that each party is leveraging their own strengths, focusing on the greater good and the positive win-win outcomes. To me that is always what has been at the core of how I have always thought about going after a market opportunity and developing relationships and partnerships and ultimately many friendships. It’s about making sure you are delivering on your piece of the equation and doing it to the very best of your abilities so there is a very positive outcome.