"I think it is important to acknowledge that we are private now, versus public," Barracuda CEO BJ Jenkins told assembled partners at its annual conference last week.
All the firms present at the vendor's Monte Carlo partner event will have been aware that Barracuda was taken private by Thoma Bravo earlier this year, but they were perhaps not expecting such a candid assessment from Jenkins about the vendor's previous life on the New York Stock Exchange.
Speaking to partners in Monte Carlo, the Barracuda chief was the first to admit that the vendor took its eye off the ball while it was listed, admitting that strategy was being dictated by quarterly results rather than long-term objectives.
Barracuda has wasted little time since the takeover, unveiling a revamped channel programme and new cloud-based solutions aimed at partners looking to transition towards managed services.
Under new ownership, Jenkins claimed, the network security vendor is well placed to accelerate progress towards reaching its goal of $1bn annual revenue by 2023.
"Thoma Bravo works with lots of companies that are channel-orientated," Jenkins explained to the press.
"The benefit of being private is systemic investment that we wouldn't have been able to make [when] public.
"The secondary benefit to it will be acceleration via M&A. It gives channel partners more opportunity going forward as we get larger."
Jenkins (pictured left) was coy when asked to provide more information on Barracuda's M&A strategy, adding only that he plans to add $25m to the vendor's top line annually via acquisitions.
Speaking to CRN at the conference, Barracuda worldwide sales SVP Michael Hughes explained that the vendor struggled to balance hitting quarterly targets with making the right long-term investments.
"When you're a public company your ability to pick and choose the bets to make is tied to what is going to be profitable in the quarter," he said.
"With Thoma Bravo they're going to make the right bets for the long term, whether it helps us in the quarter or not. We have the ability to solve long-term problems and take advantage of opportunities without worrying about reaching profit numbers for the quarter."
Barracuda's shortfalls while listed on the stock exchange did not go unnoticed in the channel. Dan Bailey, director of Leeds-based Barracuda partner Altinet, said that he experienced "frustrations" with Barracuda's slow decision making during its public life.
"We saw that decisions were made slower and I don't think necessarily the best decisions were always made because it was more a case of what looks good or what sounds good to investors, rather than what is going to drive long-term value," he said.
Partners at the conference were told that Thoma Bravo's backing gives Barracuda more scope to invest in new products and expand its channel, particularly within the European market, which it expects will hit billings of $100m in fiscal 2019.
A key focus of this investment, according to Hughes (pictured left), will be the MSP space, which Barracuda entered as a result of its Intronis acquisition in 2015.
"The task of the channel today is completely different than what it was a few years ago," he explained.
"I think more than ever our partners are not just transactional, they're not just trying to sell one thing to one customer, solve the problem and go away. They're interested in building a service around that customer [and staying] engaged with the customer."
This channel transition is reflected in Barracuda's new partner programme, which was launched at the event.
The revamped programme restructures partners into three tiers - Authorised, Preferred and Premier - and offers improved discounts on deals, Barracuda claims.
Alongside the programme, Barracuda also announced a new cloud-based web application firewall, which Jenkins said demonstrates the vendor's commitment to cloud infrastructure.
According to the company's 2018 Q2 results (before it was acquired), Barracuda added 300 public cloud customers and its cloud billings doubled year on year. During the earnings call Jenkins called its public cloud solutions a "growing opportunity" and one in which the company is investing.
Speaking on the new Barracuda partner programme, Altinet's Bailey welcomed the changes.
"The partner programme previously was only really focused on revenue, so it kind of favoured the partners who were large VARs who hit the revenue numbers but didn't offer value in the sales process," he explained. "Now there's a much heavier focus on offering services and having a skilled technical team to deliver those services."
Donavan Hutchinson, managing director at Barracuda partner PCM UK, added that it's difficult for any partner programme to be balanced when various partners are offering different services, but he praised Barracuda's efforts to help resellers transition to other offerings.
"I think Barracuda is treating everybody with the same respect, whether they're a reseller or an MSP," he explained. "I think that's a powerful message to all the partners because there are many that have attempted to transition from the resell model to the MSP model and they've not been able to because they've not had that support from vendors."
Jenkins stressed to partners that the company has moved on from being a "fast follower" and considers its innovation in product and services to be market leading: "If you're looking for a leader to work with, if you have customers who are interested in the public cloud, we want to be your partner. This is going to become a larger and larger part of the market and we believe we've got the leading platform for you to grow."
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