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@amcchord
Last active Jul 20, 2022
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Lots of folks have asked me about my thoughts on Kaseya’s purchase of Datto:

Until recently I have been very much telling everyone to assume positive intent. Kaseya is looking to continue Datto’s success. In general, people don’t spend 6+ Billion dollars on something they intend to break. Change is inevitable and mistakes will be made but by and large Datto should expect to continue to be the company that is loved by employees and customers alike.

This past week, many current members of the Datto team have reached out deeply dismayed. There is a concern that the current trajectory from Datto’s new owners will snuff the flame that makes Datto a place to come “Do your life’s work.”

I am not associated with the company any more so my understanding of the specifics comes entirely second hand. Current team members have reached out and described the following:

- Sidelining Employee Resource Groups that support under represented people at the company
- Looking for long term changes to budgets with decreases in excess of 30%
- Don’t treat the office as a hub for community anymore. “No more hanging out in the office.”
- Making changes to key benefits like maternity leave (down from 16 weeks to 3 weeks). 
- Reducing 401k Matching from 4.5% to 0%
- Reducing vacation/pto from 20+10 to 17 total. 

The method in which these changes have been introduced has done more damage than necessary. Communication has been heavy handed and those who have questioned it or expressed dismay have been simply overrun at best or summarily terminated at worst. These departures have induced a ton of unnecessary fear into the workplace. Employees are afraid to voice their opinions and give feedback. All of this is causing many incredible people who work at Datto to look for the exits.

This sucks. It feels like you just bought a leading football team and are in the process of breaking all the players legs. This is not a winning strategy. It will hurt the entire MSP industry.

Prior to the acquisition Datto posted its best quarter ever. The company’s growth was accelerating while generated meaningful returns to the bottom line. To make this happen it took a team 2200+ diverse, committed and brilliant people around the world delivering great product for MSPs. This team and the culture that bonds them together is the secret to Datto’s success. More than any price point or technology. Losing this team will spell certain demise for business long term.

To the management team at Kaseya. Take a beat. Stop and listen. There was a saying in Datto new hire training that “Datto is not your last company. Things are different here.” Datto is not the last company you acquired, it’s different. Its differentness is what makes it successful, not what holds it back. You have an incredible opportunity to be the engine that takes the entire MSP industry to a whole new level. You have purchased a unique asset that can bring you (yes you Kaseya!), like all its prior owners, incredible financial return. The way to get those returns and continue the upward trajectory for everyone in the MSP space is to listen and support Datto’s differences, rather than destroy them.

@MostAwesomeDude
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MostAwesomeDude commented Jul 9, 2022

There is only one cure for poor management: withhold labor.

@vrepix112
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vrepix112 commented Jul 11, 2022

I'm so sorry Austin. I am sure despite moving on to continue doing your life's work, it must suck to watch your baby grow up and see the direction it is headed in now. You and Tim ensured Datto's good reputation, looks like the 6 billion spent by Kaseya is just a power trip to take out a competitor.

@bdmorin
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bdmorin commented Jul 11, 2022

I am not associated with the company any more so my understanding of the specifics comes entirely second hand.

I know exactly nothing about you or the company, but as part of the 2000 tech bubble, I can tell you that execs that run off with millions made from people working for you and having no more contact or influence is pretty much the dickest of dick moves. The picture you paint in this one post makes me think you are trying to save face instead of bettering the situation.

Take your golden parachute and let the people work things out. You're gone, likely by contract. You didn't have to do that. Disconnect completely, don't half ass it. You got what you wanted. Done.

@ProfessionalSqueakyWheel

Austin, with all due respect, the culture of Datto started to deteriorate the moment you walked away. I was there during the 'golden age' boom: the opening of the Rochester office, the ten year celebration at the amusement parks, and I stayed as long as I could until my career aspirations were literally ripped out from under me during one of Datto's "reorganizations."

I wanted to believe in Datto, and for a long time I did. It took cutting my career off at the knees to finally admit that things had changed beyond recognition. And unfortunately, it only got worse after I left. I also know about former employees who were threatened by Datto's legal team as a hail mary to prevent more employees from leaving. All the former employees did was post their new employment on LinkedIn, and other Datto employees took it upon themselves to apply to these places their colleagues had gone to. I distinctly remember Datto management talking with glee years ago about scooping up employees from Unisys, Blackboard, Windstream, and Sutherland (to name a few), who were desperate for a better working environment. Many current and former Datto employees are utilizing burner accounts to share their stories because they are afraid of retaliation, myself included.

I'm posting this in an effort to help you understand that this didn't just happen in the last year, it didn't just happen with the pandemic; we've seen the red flags for years now, and all efforts to reason with management and offer solutions were either ignored or underhandedly penalized. It all started with the acquisition from Vista, slicing off one inch of culture at a time, and this is the result. The profits from the last year+ are on the backs of employees who are burnt out, ground to dust, many of whom have had to take short-term disability for mental breakdowns. People cried at their desks every day, even pre-COVID. Things have been bad for a long time, it's just finally bad enough that it can't be ignored.

@gregjurman
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gregjurman commented Jul 15, 2022

Unfortunately this is the trajectory that a lot of business are going across the board especially those caught up with PEs/VCs. "Value for Shareholders" has single handedly rotted the tech industry where things like EBIDTA are more important than trying to maintain a work environment where employees can thrive and innovate. There never should be the case where any of the operations staff feels like they need spend a ton of time tracking all the movements of leadership to see how they are going to get screwed. Engineers generally want to make a great quality product, leadership shouldn't be part of the threat model for completing that mission.
 
All those bullet points you have posted above I've seen done at multiple companies in the last decade single handedly caused the downfall of that company one way or another. Some of these done almost entirely in secret without properly notifying employees of the change as leadership KNOWS DAMN WELL it’s a bad move. Either causing all the tenured/senior staff that are the walking Libraries of Alexandria to leave, or collapsing AR to where the company is on critical life-support as the savings gets drained handling past-due AP.
 
When Finance starts running the show and the People Dept is no longer able to be transparent and/or support employees like BIPOC, LGBTQIA+, differently-abled, new parents; it shows to me leadership has no idea how much goodwill they are destroying in the company they just purchased. If they wanted to just come in and do just that, they should of offered the board half of what they originally bid, and watched the board laugh them out of the room and having swatted away a dumb offer, kept on doing what was clearly working in the first place.

Ultimately the new owners will get "half of what they paid for" in the long-term.

@ajmacscat
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ajmacscat commented Jul 20, 2022

I commend Austin for having the courage to say what he did. Maybe some time in the future, we'll see the old Datto crew all circle back, and change the MSP ecosystem once again. Until then, we'll all have to deal with some pain. Remember Solar Winds? If the key suppliers all merge together, good luck.

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