Comcast Business Upheaval: Longstanding Channel Chief To Retire, Partner Organization Jobs Slashed
A shakeup at Comcast Business will see channel chief Craig Schlagbaum retire by year’s end as well as a “large” number of job cuts in the company’s partner organization.
A shakeup this week in Comcast Business’ partner organization includes the retirement of channel chief Craig Schlagbaum and a “large” job reduction “across the organization” that also encompasses cuts to a number of high-level channel leadership positions, according to people familiar with the matter.
Schlagbaum, who created Comcast’s channel program when he joined the company nearly 13 years ago and grew it to over 5,000 U.S. partners, confirmed in an email to CRN that he plans to retire from his role as senior vice president of indirect channels by the end of the year.
“This journey has been an absolute honor and privilege. I’m proud that our team worked harder and accomplished more than any I’ve led in my 30-plus year career,” Schlagbaum said in a statement emailed to CRN, noting that the program he founded in 2011 has grown to nearly $1 billion in revenue. “The channel remains critical to Comcast’s future enterprise solutions success. … Although I’m retiring from Comcast, I’ll remain very involved with the channel and our valued partners.”
In addition to Schlagbaum’s departure, job cuts characterized by one source as having a “huge impact” on Comcast’s indirect channel program were also unveiled this week. While CRN could not uncover the full scale of the cuts, sources who spoke on condition of anonymity said the positions of at least five tenured channel executives at director level or above were among the eliminated jobs.
One of the impacted executives is Scott Mull, vice president of indirect sales operations and Schlagbaum’s “right-hand man,” who has been part of the organization since 2011, according to two sources.
Schlagbaum’s boss, Terry Connell, senior vice president of sales and sales operations for Comcast Business, will continue to lead Comcast Business’ partner program, with help from Matt Fassnacht, national vice president for Comcast Business Enterprise Solutions, according to Schlagbaum.
“Terry Connell, who was my leader for all of those 13 years, will continue to lead the program forward with partners’ best interests in mind with the help of Matt Fassnacht who came from our Enterprise Sales team. I wish my team and Comcast Business continued success. It’s been deeply fulfilling to create one of the industry’s most recognized and awarded channel programs,” Schlagbaum said in the statement.
Comcast did not respond to CRN’s request for comment as of publication time. An attempt to reach Mull via LinkedIn was unsuccessful as of publication time.
The upheaval comes after the company announced in September that William Stemper, then-president of Comcast Business since the $10 billion segment’s inception in 2006, would be transitioning to chairman emeritus.
Succeeding him was Edward Zimmermann, most recently Comcast Business’ CFO and chief of strategy, who took over as president in October.
Partners: Schlagbaum Drove Channel Success
The partners said they feel a sense of debt and gratitude to Schlagbaum for his long-time service to the channel.
Drew Lydecker, co-founder and president of Avant, one of Comcast Businesses’ largest partners, said that Schlagbaum created a hugely successful channel program that’s been set up “perfectly well” for the next channel chief.
“We’re their No. 1 partner and a lot of that has been with [Schlagbaum]‘s guidance. He’s been absolutely phenomenal,” he said. “He took a company that had zero channel and created another monster channel program. Although he might be retiring from [Comcast] I wouldn’t be surprised to see him pop up in another place that needs similar help.”
Another partner credited Schlagbaum for playing a key role in their company’s success.
“Comcast and [Schlagbaum] changed us,” according to one Comcast partner, who requested anonymity. “The channel in general has really just crushed their numbers by virtue of Masergy, [acquired by Comcast Business in 2021,] and when we kind of maxed out with cable circuits, we were able to go more enterprise-scale with Masergy to continue that growth.”
Schlagbaum has more than three decades of channel experience. Prior to his time with Comcast, he served as vice president of indirect channels for Level 3 Communications for more than six years, where he created the then-telco’s first indirect channel program from the ground level to traction within 8 months.