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WatchGuard owner sets sights on MSP growth

Vector Capital has become majority owner of the security firm with a strategy of appealing to managed service providers

WatchGuard Technologies has gained a fresh majority owner in the form of Vector Capital after Francisco Partners exited the business.

The shuffling of owners is something that typically might just interest staff, customers and partners, but in this case the message coming from the vendor and Vector is that the move will accelerate activities on that front.

Vector has been involved with WatchGuard for more than a decade, but has now taken the decision to become the majority owner and pick up the slice that had been owned by Francisco Partners and some other shareholders in a deal the terms of which were not disclosed. If it gets the nod, it should close by the end of Q3.

What Vector has gained is control of a business that already has a global network of more than 17,000 MSPs using its Unified Security Platform, which is protecting more than 250,000 businesses worldwide.

The vendor’s decision to acquire Panda in 2020 gave it the opportunity to add more depth to its portfolio and more scope to its cloud options, and those efforts have continued with the firm promoting its ability to deliver a unified platform.

“MSPs represent the future of security delivery, but to be successful, they need a bespoke platform built for their needs,” said Sandy Gill, managing director of Vector Capital.

“WatchGuard is uniquely positioned to lead the market in enabling those MSPs with its Unified Security Platform. We are excited to further invest, both organically and via acquisitions, in the company’s mission to deliver to security-focused MSPs one vendor, one platform and one vision to build their business upon.”

Gill’s colleague, Alex Slusky, founder, managing director and chief investment officer of Vector Capital, said the firm had experience with the vendor stretching back over a decade and had plans to develop the business further. “We are proud of the foundation of success we’ve built with WatchGuard’s management team and look forward to fuelling the next phase of growth and transformation for the company,” he said.

Where some of the investment has been going, and is set to continue, is around the secure access service edge (SASE), extended detection and response (XDR) and managed detection and response (MDR) products.

Prakash Panjwani, CEO of WatchGuard Technologies, said the firm would be leaning on its new backer to support its ambitions to grow its channel base.

“Vector firmly believes in WatchGuard’s portfolio, partners, employees and vision,” he said. “This transaction is a testament to WatchGuard’s current success and the opportunity ahead. We believe Vector is well positioned to further accelerate WatchGuard’s growth strategy while preserving our company culture and commitment to security delivery through the MSP community.” 

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