Maybe it's a coincidence. Or maybe it's something more. In the past five business days, I've heard from five high-profile MSP (managed services provider) executives and channel leaders. Each executive is planning a significant career move in January 2013 -- typically leaping into a cloud or mobile opportunity. But that doesn't mean the executives are walking away from MSPs. On the contrary, those executives will be working more deeply than ever with MSPs. Here's why.

The story starts with a voicemail, involving an MSP veteran who also has SaaS experience. Rather than working for an IT service provider, she's ready to go back to the vendor side -- and interviewing at cloud companies that have MSP partner programs. Similarly, a former MSP executive on the west coast is scouting opportunities in San Francisco and Massachusetts, all of which are cloud or mobile plays. And then there's the case of three MSPs I saw at Amazon's AWS re:Invent conference last week in Las Vegas. Each of those industry names expects to announce a career move within the next four to six weeks.

Plenty of folks have already made moves ahead of the new year. Australia MSP executive Tim Brewer, an Anittel veteran, is becoming a coach; MSP veteran Amy Luby is now at Trend Micro working on channel initiatives; Axcient veteran Chris Sterbenc recently joined Gridstore; and quite a few Nimsoft veterans were in the Boundary booth at AWS re:Invent.

New Motivations

What's driving the career changes? A few thoughts:
  1. It's December: People always get itchy this time of year, longing to start the New Year with new opportunities.
  2. The Opportunities: The high-tech job market is improving.
  3. The Stress: Traditional MSPs are working hard to evolve their businesses for the cloud. Some of those MSP executives are getting a bit tired of the constant business evolution. Instead of writing yet another chapter to that story, some executives want a clean break and are joining pure cloud and mobile plays.
  4. The Hype: Cloud and Mobile are the new Dot Com boom. But here's the difference: Few dot-com companies were profitable. Plenty of cloud and mobile companies are raking in the profits, or on a path to profitability.
  5. The Unique Experience: MSP veterans are few and far between, and in high demand among cloud companies that want to understand how to build MSP-oriented partner programs.
  6. The Valuation: Some folks are starting to realize MSP valuations, while occasionally nice, never reach into the stratosphere. So if you're going to work extremely hard, it might as well involve an opportunity with a potential exit at a much higher valuation.
  7. The Innovator's Itch: Some folks are just getting bored. Instead of kicking back and collecting the usual paycheck, it's time to take a new risk.
So where will this blog entry lead? Stay tuned. The career changer story will continue to unfold through the new year.