Acquisition-happy executive parachutes into crowded SD-WAN market
Rich McBee, the longtime CEO at business communications company Mitel until earlier this month, is taking over the chief executive position for Riverbed Technology, a player in the crowded and fast-growing software-defined WAN (SD-WAN) space.
The Lowdown: McBee comes to Riverbed three weeks after David Murphy took over as interim CEO, replacing Paul Mountford, who served in the position for about 18 months.
The Details: McBee spent eight years at the helm of Mitel, establishing an aggressive acquisition strategy as the company reorganized its operations and put a greater focus on the cloud. Mitel bought several companies during McBee’s time there, including rival ShoreTel for $530 million in 2017. Mitel also made a failed $2 billion bid for Polycom and earlier this year was reportedly interested in buying Avaya. He was replaced at Mitel by former Polycom CEO Mary McDowell.
During his time at Mitel, McBee said that, in a consolidating communications market, he wanted to be a buyer rather than a seller. At Riverbed, McBee enters into an SD-WAN space that analysts have said is ripe for consolidation, with about five-dozen companies vying for market share. Among those vendors are such established players as Cisco and VMware.
The announcement of McBee’s appointment this week came a day after the company said that its SteelConnex EX WAN edge infrastructure offering – with SD-WAN capabilities – is now generally available.
Background: There are a number of drivers fueling the rapid adoption of SD-WAN, including the need for easier management of WANs that now have multiple connection modes and the inability of traditional WANs to address the needs of enterprises that are adapting quickly to such trends as the cloud, edge computing, and greater mobility. IDC analysts predict the SD-WAN market to reach $5.25 billion by 2023, growing almost 31% a year.
The Buzz: “Riverbed has a well-respected brand, a history of innovation, and a strong customer installed base that’s well-earned,” McBee said. “Riverbed’s current technology portfolio and strategy opens up significant market opportunities for our company, as organizations worldwide are looking to capitalize on their digital transformation investments and enhance the digital experience of their users. I’m looking forward to working with our experienced team to accelerate our execution and drive great outcomes for Riverbed, as well as for our partners and customers.”
“Rich is a strong leader and strategist and has a solid track record of driving business execution and results. Riverbed has experienced strong performance recently, and Rich is the right leader to continue our upward momentum, as well as bring the passion and dedication to operational excellence that he’s well-known for in the industry,” said David Murphy, Riverbed chairman and senior operating partner at Thoma Bravo. “I look forward to working with Rich and the Riverbed executive team as we continue to deliver against our strategy and drive growth in two very unique and growing markets: digital networking and digital experience management.”
“Rich McBee has the ideal skills and experience to lead Riverbed through this next phase of growth while driving operational excellence,” said Orlando Bravo, Thoma Bravo founder and managing partner. “We’re fully committed to Riverbed’s success and look forward to continuing to deliver great value to Riverbed’s customers and partners, and maximizing the company’s full potential in a $20 billion total addressable market.”