The Top 25 Technology Disrupters Of 2023
These are the men and women who are pushing boundaries and turning the IT market on its ear.
As the global economy tries to navigate a post-pandemic world, and supply shortages continue to wreak havoc on the industry, the technology disrupters have stepped up.
While the pandemic has created surging demand for technologies to enable distributed working and learning, our list of the Top 25 Technology Disrupters of 2023 highlights executives who have answered the call -- meeting the rapidly evolving needs of customers while creating new opportunities for channel partners.
Our list includes executives who’ve proven themselves to be game-changers in red-hot markets ranging from artificial intelligence and network security, to cloud software and data center infrastructure and more.
What follows is our list of the Top 25 Technology Disrupters of 2023.
Be sure to also check out the complete list of CRN’s Top 100 Executives Of 2023.
25. Fran Rosch
In the increasingly critical area of digital identity, Rosch has piloted ForgeRock to position itself at the intersection of identity, security and digital transformation. Recent innovations have included a new offering that aims to make i t easier for businesses to adopt password-less authentication.
24. Sanjay Mirchandani
Mirchandani has turned a legacy data backup software provider into one as modern as any born-in-thecloud upstart. Commvault provides comprehensive data management and protection using the cloud, on-premises environments and its Commvault Metallic SaaS technology.
23. HoJin Kim
Kim joined WatchGuard in mid-May to lead its global sales force. He is focused on accelerating the vendor’s efforts around enabling MSPs with WatchGuard’s unified cybersecurity platform. “MSPs represent the best route to market that will actually help guarantee the best customer satisfaction,” Kim told CRN.
22. Pankaj Patel
A technology legend for over 25 years, Patel founded and launched Nile in 2018. Under his leadership, Nile is disrupting the status quo and reimagining the future of networking. By staying dedicated to satisfying customer needs, Patel and his startup are delivering on his vision of simplifying network connectivity.
21. John Pagliuca
A year after spinning off from SolarWinds, N-able is on an upward trajectory with revenue and income up significantly over the previous year, a feat Pagliuca said is due to its employees. This spring N-able published its inaugural ESG Report that spotlights its continued efforts.
20. Renen Hallak
Hallak has been busy disrupting the storage industry for quite some time. At Vast Data, he is hard at work creating technology that ends storage tiering with an all-new scale-out architecture, which adds flash performance to all data types.
19. Vladimir Rozanovich
SVP, Worldwide Infrastructure Solutions Group Sales
Rozanovich has put a premium on letting partners own the customer relationship as Lenovo’s North American president. Now in his new role, which he took on in June, the executive plans to take his regional success with servers to new heights.
18. Kevin Rooney
VP, America Channel Sales
Finding new ways to disrupt the status quo is old news for Rooney. At Veeam, he takes the lead in disrupting the data backup and data management market by helping channel partners succeed in winning over customers that are looking to leverage the latest in cloud capabilities.
17. Rod Mathews
When Mathews joined Axcient in 2022, he was taking over a proven MSP market disrupter, one that started as a backup services provider but now provides full MSP-focused cloud file services, recovery and archiving. He is now helping lead the company into new areas such as Disaster Recovery as a Service.
16. Nick Schneider
Under Schneider’s leadership, Arctic Wolf has been expanding beyond its roots in MDR to address multiple security problems and attack surfaces. It recently launched a retainer option for its cyber incident response services to allow partners to more easily supply customers with rapid access to the services.
15. Gajen Kandiah
Kandiah has kept a razor-sharp focus on building value for customers and investing in their future, even when times are tough. This mindset has helped Hitachi Vantara continue to push out a steady stream of products in areas like data management and hybrid cloud managed services.
14. Todd Nightingale
Longtime networking specialist Nightingale took on his latest challenge in 2022 when he joined Fastly as CEO. A proven and passionate technology leader, he is strengthening Fastly ’s technology and go-to-market strategy to lead the company into its next stage of growth.
13. Kevin Lynch
Optiv kicked off a major expansion in the federal government space with its acquisition of solution provider ClearShark. Lynch has brought a heightened focus on using data to drive growth, including through a new partner program that provides the basis for its partnerships with other companies.
12. Kyle Hanslovan
Under Hanslovan, Huntress raised $60 million to continue the partner-driven expansion of its managed cybersecurity platform. It also unveiled its MDR protection for Microsoft 365 that includes monitoring of Active Directory activity and detection for identity compromise and 24x7 analysis and remediation.
11. Joyce Mullen
President, North America
Mullen took Insight to new heights last year with $10.4 billion in revenue, while also increasing profit and gross margins. She is driving a revamped cloud strategy by doubling down on Microsoft, which led Insight to win two Microsoft U.S. Partner of the Year Awards in 2023.
10. Ghassan “Guss” Lababidi
VP, Cybersecurity, Partner Marketing, Enablement
Lababidi has spearheaded OpenText’s doubling down on security and its work with partners—especially those that favor vendors with a broad portfolio of cybersecurity and data protection capabilities. He also has built a new team to drive partner sales.
9. Ryan Walsh
As Pax8 unveiled its revamped cloud marketplace at its Beyond event, Walsh said it will be transformational for MSPs that are ready to jump. The marketplace uses the power of data and AI to act as a customer acquisition engine for MSPs, which will have the power to choose which customers they want.
8. Fred Voccola
A year after buying rival software company Datto for $6.2 billion, Voccola said Kaseya is seeing 30 percent organic growth and is on a hiring spree, making room for more than 3,000 new employees. Kaseya has also acquired Vonahi Security, ConnectBooster and audIT and held its first DattoCon in Europe.
7. Dan and Michael Schwab
The Schwab brothers have grown D&H from $1.45 billion to nearly $6 billion, redefining the modern distribution model by bringing in key new talent and making big investments that are powering partners into new areas like cloud, Everything as a Service, professional services and security.
6. Tom Gillis
SVP, GM, Security
Security legend Gillis rejoined Cisco in 2023 and now is spearheading the company’s global security business to fundamentally simplify the experience. At the same time, he’s helping Cisco boost its security chops so that the networking giant is also known for its expertise across the technology.
5. Dev Ittycheria
Ittycheria’s confidence in the NoSQL database vendor’s ability to meet the AI moment while stretching into new areas such as vector search make MongoDB one to fear for companies that underestimate the tectonic shifts in technology and MongoDB’s promise to surf the wave.
4. Jay Chaudhry
Founder, Chairman, CEO
Chaudhry has remained unwavering in his pursuit of enabling the shift from traditional network security technologies to tools that can help enable a zero-trust security posture, such as those that leverage Zscaler’s Zero Trust Exchange platform.
3. Sanjib Sahoo
EVP, Global Chief Digital Officer
Sahoo is on a mission to make sure MSPs are working to become digitally fit companies. MSPs must have nimble and flexible legacy and core systems, create a data foundation across all systems and have a product mindset to create a better user experience, he has said.
2. Bill Scannell
President, Global Sales, Customer Operations
Scannell has been leading all of Dell’s sales since 2019, and in that time the company has continued to set records for quarterly and annual revenue, while holding on to top market positions in digital infrastructure categories such as x86 servers for his entire run.
1. Sam Altman
OpenAI posted a blog on Nov. 30, 2022, with the headline “Introducing ChatGPT.” In the eight months since, a wave of innovation has disrupted the industry, with companies racing to capitalize on the potential of generative AI technology sparked by OpenAI.
At the nexus of all this is Altman, a 38-year-old programmer, entrepreneur, investor, Stanford University dropout and co-founder of mobile app developer Loopt.
Altman cofounded OpenAI in December 2015 with backing from technology startup accelerator Y Combinator (where Altman was president) and—starting in 2019— billions of dollars in Microsoft investments.
Altman has to some degree become the human face for AI technology. Testifying before Congress on May 16, he touted AI’s potential benefits but acknowledged his “worst fears” are that the AI industry could “cause significant harm to the world.”
OpenAI sees its mission as ensuring that AI benefits all of humanity, he said. “It’s why we started the company.”