Unitrends is being purchased by a VC. Is this the end of Unitrends? Will Unitrends lose its customer obsessed focus (and thus I’ll have to rename this blog?)
Mike Coney, the CEO of Unitrends, recently was responsible for a blog that talked about the History of Unitrends. Pretty interesting reading. This post is inspired by both it and another post – over at Spiceworks – called The end of Unitrends?
Everyone views history through the lens of their own experience – thus history is incredibly subjective. I thought that the “History of Unitrends” blog post did a good job. But when I talked to a few customers last night and this morning about the Insight Ventures Partners acquisition of Unitrends, I thought that it was worth revisiting.
When I think of Unitrends, I think of it in three distinct phases. I’m going to briefly describe the first two phases and spend more time on the third.
Unitrends 1.0: The company gets started in Myrtle Beach. The first few employees that remain with the company from that era include Mark Jordan, Sameer Kamat, Brian Tisdale, and Maria Pressley. Eventually the company received its first venture funding, from Larry Wilson, a Columbia-based entrepreneur who became its chairman. The company moved to Columbia, South Carolina. Unitrends begins shipping a data protection appliance and grows. The company raises over $20M in venture capital with the last round of Unitrends 1.0 occurring in April 2008 led by venture capital firm called Paladin. The company has good technology, but suffers from quality problems and sales model problems and its growth flatlines for a while. After the quality problems are largely resolved, the board makes a decision to move in a new direction with new leadership while retaining the CFO (Tim Wallick who joined in 2006) and their newly acquired CTO (Mark Campbell, who joined as CTO after the Paladin investment in 2008.)
Unitrends 2.0: Our CEO has covered this pretty well; I’m not going to try to elaborate on the very detailed post that he made. Mike Coney was an independent director in 2008 who joined as CEO in late 2009 while I moved to COO. Later, Mike hired Mike Walsh – our senior director of inside sales – who together with Jennifer Sipala created a strong inside sales/inside marketing function. In 2010 we received a small amount of venture capital funding that allowed us to create and staff our Boston sales and marketing office. Growth really began to pick up as the market embraced our product, technology, marketing, sales, and our obsessive customer support. In 2012 up until recently, we have been hiring our vice presidents (Joe Balazs, Eric Dougherty, Jessica Flanagan, Bob Gagnon, Subo Guha, Jennifer Sullivan, Dan Wixon) who have enabled us to scale the company further.
Unitrends 3.0: This is the story that has yet to be written – it’s the future of our company with the Insight Ventures Partners acquisition. I think that there are a couple of important things to note:
- The majority of Unitrends has been owned by venture capitalists for a long time. The primary change that occurred was that now we have a single majority owner. What’s the fundamental impact of this acquisition? Unitrends has in effect much, much, much deeper pockets to fund our continued domination of the data protection (and adjacent!) galaxy.
- Insight bought Unitrends because it felt that it was an awesome opportunity. We sold the company because we aggressively agreed with Insight – it’s one hell of an opportunity.
- When Insight was pursuing its diligence on Unitrends before the acquisition, they called customers and partners – a lot of customers and partners. They were impressed with what they heard. The only thing I’ve heard from Insight about customer support is how we take it even higher – to the next level. And that’s the same message I hear from Insight on technology, product, marketing, sales, finance, and the rest of the company.
In conclusion – it’s our belief system that we are destined to dominate the data protection space for cloud, virtual, and physical – and the Insight acquisition is adding rocket fuel to our already incredible growth. For those concerned that this means a fundamental change to what we’re doing – it doesn’t. And for those concerned because they’ve seen company after company in this space try to make a quick buck by cutting back on support, it isn’t going to happen. We built this company on world-class customer support and customer experience; and that’s the foundation of everything that we do both now in and in the future.
In short, only an idiot would believe that the way to dominate the data protection space is by screwing over their customers. Many of our competitors are idiots. Insight aren’t idiots. And we’re not idiots.
Let us know if you have any questions or comments; as always, love to hear from you.