Have you heard of Scott Arnold? I hadn't either until a few months ago when I learned that he was the new CEO of AppSense. No announcement from the company. No tweets. No PR calls. No blog posts. It was completely on the down-low. In fact the company refused to even confirm whether Scott was the only new employee (replacing Darron Antill). Apparently the powers controlling AppSense haven't yet grasped the concepts of social media and LinkedIn.
Based on web searches and talking to current and former employees over the past few months, it looks like practically the entire C-Suite at AppSense was replaced. New CEO replaced fired CEO. New CFO replaced fired CFO. New CMO replaced fired CMO. New SVP of Sales replaced fired SVP of Sales. Benny Tritsch? Fired. (No worries though as he landed at Bluecue Consulting with Nico Luedemann.) As far as I can tell the only people who survived are RAPsphere CEO Ravi Khatod in the position of SVP, Marketing, and Keith Turnbull as Chief Development Officer. (Fellow gin lover and friend-of-the-site Jon Rolls is still there too.)
So what happened? Even if you didn't hear the news, the story isn't new: Company takes a huge VC investment with hopes to go public. Scales hella fast. Don't hit sales targets. VC brings in their own execs who focus on cutting costs and streamlining. Rank-and-file employees don't love it. Pissant bloggers have something to write about at 11 at night.
Change in leadership. Change in strategy?
So far I'm on board with everything at AppSense. Sure it's crazy in today's world to try to slip in new execs on the DL, but whatever. Shit happens.
But what's really wild is that I'm hearing that AppSense is also changing their strategy. For the past fifteen years or so, AppSense focused on Windows desktop management (profile virtualization, etc. which they now call "DesktopNow"). Then last year they entered the EMM space by buying RAPsphere (since renamed "MobileNow") and have introduced other mobile-focused products like DataNow (for mobile file-syncing).
Now we've heard from several employees (current and ex) that AppSense is focusing their efforts on the mobile space and essentially putting the desktop products out to pasture. (In other words they'll just do basic maintenance on the desktop products, but the effort is on the mobile stuff.) The idea is that's where the money and the growth is.
This seems odd though. AppSense was one of the two primary vendors (along with RES Software) in the user profile virtualization space, and while Windows desktops might not be quite as important in another ten years as they are today, it seems crazy that they'd want to throw away that market to become one of fifty-something companies in the EMM space where everyone is fighting for the price bottom.
It's ironic that Harry Labana (former AppSense CTO) was fired (or "given a different role" or whatever they're calling it) for wanting to do all that crazy mobile stuff instead of focusing on their legacy desktop products, and now a year later this is exactly what the company is doing.
AppSense has been pretty big in our industry, so we'll definitely keep our eyes on them to see if they really throw away fifteen years of solid (though boring) products to enter the mobile chaos world.
As for you, what have you heard? Are you an AppSense partner, customer, or current or former employee? What's your take? What are you hearing?
Fig 1. Plan B.