Software Transformation Superstar Jed Ayres Is Taking CEO Job At ControlUp
“We’re going to invest multiple millions of dollars into making this a channel-led, channel-first company,” says new ControlUp CEO Jed Ayres. “With the channel leading the charge I see this company tripling its annual recurring revenue over the next two years!”
Former IGEL CEO Jed Ayres, who transformed IGEL from a little-known thin client hardware maker into a secure endpoint software powerhouse, is looking to repeat that success as the new CEO of digital employee experience software platform maker ControlUp.
Ayres, who left IGEL last month after driving annual software billings from literally zero to nearly $100 million, said he is looking forward to once again leveraging his deep relationships with solution providers to power explosive annual recurring revenue software growth at ControlUp.
“We’re going to invest multiple millions of dollars into making this a channel-led, channel-first company,” said Ayres, who is hitting the ground running with a coming-out party for ControlUp at the VMware Explore conference in Las Vegas this week. “With the channel leading the charge I see this company tripling its annual recurring revenue over the next two years!”
Ayres, in fact, said he sees a path to make ControlUp, which at this point has a cult-like following among an elite group of tech savvy solution providers, the definitive leader in the Digital Experience category.
“With millions of people working from home, the digital experience platform we have at ControlUp is the key to unlocking the innovation and productivity of the modern workforce,” said Ayres. “Our platform is boosting PC and cloud productivity with real time user monitoring, troubleshooting and remediation of everything from PCs to applications like Teams and Zoom. We provide IT insight into the entire employee digital experience from the PC to the network to applications to the cloud. We’re monitoring every physical and virtual device in the enterprise. It is a massive addressable market!”
The ControlUp digital experience platform even measures user sentiment and includes AI-based algorithms aimed at proactively remediating potential technical issues that could hamper user productivity.
Former Citrix VP Hired As ControlUp CRO
To power the ControlUp channel charge, Ayres has hired former Citrix Senior Vice President of Americas Sales and Services Tom Holland, a 16-year Citrix veteran, as chief revenue officer.
Holland, who headed up a Citrix Americas sales organization that accounted for more than $1 billion in annual sales, said he is going to build a channel program based first and foremost on listening to partners.
“One of the first things we are going to do is build a channel advisory council, grabbing some great channel partners and asking them how they think we should organize the program and build this,” he said. “We’re going to do a listening tour with the channel. These partners work with hundreds of companies. They know exactly what good looks like. All you need to do is ask them and they will tell you.”
Holland said he will rely on the same philosophy that helped power big sales growth at Citrix, viewing the channel as an “extended” sales and success team for the company. “At Citrix we built one go-to-market strategy in orchestration with the channel,” he said. “That’s the opportunity we have at ControlUp. We’re going to work with our own sales team to set expectations on growth and customer satisfaction and set the same expectations for our channel partners.”
Holland said he was attracted to the position in large part because of the opportunity to work side by side with Ayres to drive a channel renaissance at ControlUp. “When Jed took over IGEL most people didn’t know what IGEL was,” he said. “It was a tactical solution and Jed grew it into an enterprise class delivery model. He built that brand and brought an awareness and value to that brand. That past success is going to be of immeasurable value. He’s done it before and he’s going to do it again. Jed most importantly has a fine character. He lives his values and is a very strong servant leader. “
ControlUp co-founder and CEO Asaf Ganot, who is handing the CEO reins to Ayres and moving into an executive chairman and chief product officer role, said he sees Ayres as the right top executive to scale the company for a potential IPO.
“We are building a big company,” he said. “We are starting to think about an IPO. We believe that in order to be well-positioned for a successful IPO, the company needs to be a U.S. company with headquarters in California. We need to invest much more in a U.S. presence.”
Taking ControlUp To The Next Level
Ganot said he sees Ayres, Holland and big investment in the channel taking ControlUp to the next level. “We want to invest much more in the channel,” he said.”We realize there is only so much we can do by ourselves. In order to really break through the roof and go to the next level, we need to invest much more in the channel and enterprise sales. That will give us the ability to go top down, not just bottom up. That will complement the way we sell today. By going top down we can sell a holistic solution to the CIO.”
With Ayres taking the helm, Ganot is set to accelerate the buildout of the platform overseeing the company’s 180 member digital experience software product and development team.
Ganot wrote the original code for the ControlUp software as the co-founder and CEO of Smart-X Professional Services Ltd., one of the preeminent Citrix resellers in the world. The product, which was initially solely focused on VDI troubleshooting, was the basis for Ganot and his partner, Yoni Avital, to found ControlUp in 2014.
Over the last nine years, Ganot and Avital, who is COO of ControlUp, have greatly expanded the platform, even acquiring Avacee, which makes it possible to manage physical endpoints.
Now, ControlUp, with Ayres leading the go-to-market charge, is ready to bring the full end-to-end digital experience software platform to the enterprise which is demanding a solution to fix an ever growing number of productivity draining technical issues in the wake of the hybrid work phenomenon.
“We feel the marketplace now is ripe to be able to understand the big message here of Digital Employee Experience (DEX) with employees at the center,” said Ganot.” What we are doing is monitoring everything that might affect the performance and the experience of the employee. We think that message is starting to resonate throughout the entire market.”
Partners Praise Ayres Hire
Mike Quirin, a partner at Alchemy Technology Group, a fast-growing Houston-based provider of disruptive technology solutions for enterprise customers, said he sees Ayres bringing his “Midas touch” to ControlUp.
“Everything Jed touches turns to gold, “ said Quirin. “Look at what Jed did at IGEL. ControlUp has fantastic technology but not a lot of people know about it. Jed is a marketing mastermind. He knows how to build a channel and energize the channel. He will establish a community and a lot of excitement. IGEL was a thin client that was around forever before he got there and rebranded it as a portable secure operating system and brought it to a wider audience. There are a massive number of people that don’t have a clue as to what ControlUp is. Once people understand what ControlUp is the opportunity is going to be enormous. That is where Jed is going to work his magic. He is going to build the awareness and community.”
Ayres has an uncanny ability to drive a cultural charge with employees, partners, end users and internal employees all uniting behind a common vision, said Quirin, who is both a ControlUp and IGEL partner. “Jed is a leader, people want to get behind him and be a part of the journey, experience and success,” he said.
ControlUp has outstanding technology, but will benefit greatly from Ayres’ channel-first philosophy, said Quirin “The channel is what leads to scale, expansion and big growth and success,” he said. “This company is ripe for Jed to come in and to hit the gas and take an already good product and make it into something great with their end users, customers and even their internal team all energized by his leadership.”
The ControlUp digital experience software platform is ensuring that software and applications being used by enterprises is delivering productivity gains, said Quirin. He compared an IT organization not taking advantage of a digital user experience platform like ControlUp to the equivalent of a pilot flying a plane without a control panel providing critical flight data.
“You can spend all the money in the world and buy the greatest stuff in the world, but it may not be performing and delivering what it needs to or what it is capable of,” said Quirin. “If you can make that experience smooth and seamless the friction goes away so an employee can do their job. When it is not done correctly it’s a constant battle for the end users. The problem is IT doesn’t always understand what is going on or know that there is even a problem. ControlUp provides that visibility and lets IT understand where the issues are and where changes need to be made. It really helps you get the full value out of your investment whether it is VDI, physical assets or anything else. ControlUp ultimately helps you get faster time to value and a better user experience. It’s a game changer for managing desktops and end points.”
Jason Willis, an Alchemy Technology Group practice principle who is on front lines helping customers optimize IT systems, said ControlUp is driving an immediate return on investment for customers with as much as an 80 percent time to faster resolution of IT problems and as much as a 75 percent reduction in IT service tickets.
“Most of the customers I go to have zero visibility into the end user experience,” he said. “Ninety percent of the customers are not measuring and monitoring their digital employee end user experience. Once people see ControlUp they can’t believe it. They say- “I didn’t know you could get this kind of visibility, integration and automation into the IT environment. These days it is all about employee experience. If you are not providing a good work experience people will leave the company.”
Willis said he is impressed by the breadth and depth of the ControlUp platform with integration into Azure Active Directory, Teams, Zoom and even ServiceNow. “ControlUp is pulling all of the pieces together from disparate and separate solutions,” he said. “It provides immediate visibility into what’s going on in their IT environment.”
Ayres To Lead Channel Charge
Mike Strohl, president and CEO of e360, a Concord Calif based cybersecurity, cloud and AI service provider which partners with IGEL and ControlUp, said he expects Ayres to drive even more explosive growth for partners with ControlUp than he did at IGEL.
“We grew our IGEL business by more than ten times into a multimillion dollar business during the seven years Jed was at IGEL,” he said. “Jed transformed IGEL from a hardware company into a software company. I expect to see even bigger growth with Jed leading ControlUp because it’s a bigger market opportunity. The EUC (end user compute) opportunity is by far the biggest it has ever been because of the shift to managed services and the demand for an optimized user experience that comes with any form of VDI anywhere in the world.”
Strohl said he is planning on making a big bet on a ControlUp digital employee experience practice with Ayres at the helm. “There are top executives that wherever you go you follow them,” he said. “Jed is one of those executives. I am excited for our customers and our team for the opportunity with Jed as CEO. We have been a ControlUp partner for years but having Jed take the reins means they will better align with customers and partners.”
Strohl said ControlUp has a great product portfolio that is more compelling than it has ever been because of the move away from a static on premises IT environment to a work from anywhere, cloud dominated world. “With hybrid work and cloud, customers need a product like ControlUp to better manage costs and provide a better user experience,” he said.”There is a shift from client systems as a budget item to required outcomes. Jed is going to capture that opportunity.”
Ayres, for his part, said stepping into a company like ControlUp with a crown jewel software offering with a massive market opportunity is a “marketer’s dream” come true. “If you look at the origins of the company, all of the early sales were from word of mouth with customers downloading the product and having a wildly great experience,” he said. “I look at this as an opportunity for the channel to bring an undiscovered gem that is going to drive huge gains in the end user employee experience.”
In fact, Ayres said, with the channel firing on all cylinders, the sky is the limit for just how fast ControlUp could grow over the next few years. ”We are expecting to grow rapidly year over year. I see us having a $2 billion valuation within the next three years.”