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Carbonite and Webroot close deal, focus on ransomware

After closing its largest acquisition, Carbonite said it will emphasize, at least initially, a “do-no-harm” method in the integration efforts.

In a deal that closed March 26, the backup and recovery vendor acquired cybersecurity firm Webroot for $618.5 million in cash. Norman Guadagno, Carbonite’s senior vice president of marketing, said both Carbonite and Webroot are successful and the early plan involves patience as they develop the product strategy.

“We don’t want to do anything to stop the momentum,” Guadagno said.

From a product standpoint, Carbonite and Webroot face a common threat of ransomware. High profile attacks continue to hit businesses, including a recent attack of the Tribune Publishing Company. Guadagno said customers need to be aware of other threats as well, such as state-sponsored attacks.

“I believe it will get worse before it gets better, if it ever gets better,” Guadagno said. “You have to take a comprehensive approach to protecting your data.”

That approach includes preparing for threats that get through.

The combination of backup and recovery with cybersecurity is a good play against ransomware, especially as it relates to the target of endpoints, said Christophe Bertrand, senior analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group. Security-wise, threats come in through endpoints, and endpoint backup and recovery is important as well.

“You’re solving two of the biggest problems that have domino effects,” Bertrand said.

Many data protection vendors include cybersecurity features in their backup products. However, Bertrand said, Webroot’s integration with Carbonite offers a greater depth level of cybersecurity.

While there is work to be done on the integration, Bertrand said keeping the businesses separate is a smart approach for now to maintain order. Then the actual execution of the integration is a key element.

Long term, Bertrand said the reuse of data could be a focus for Carbonite, which currently offers cloud-based products in backup, recovery, high availability and data migration, and sells to businesses through channel partners. He said he’s curious to see where the company will evolve in areas of data intelligence — compliance, archiving and beyond — to optimize data use.

Carbonite expands through acquisitions

Carbonite has been busy with acquisitions in the last few years, including the purchase of Mozy, one of its oldest cloud backup competitors. The Webroot deal is by far the biggest for which it has disclosed the price.

Guadagno said Carbonite does not comment on possible future acquisitions. The company is focused on making the Webroot acquisition succeed, communicating effectively with partners and achieving quarterly goals.

“I think the biggest challenge we have is to really be patient,” Guadagno said. “We’re really focusing on this do-no-harm model.”

Carbonite has made several acquisitions in recent years.

Webroot retains sales model, channel

Webroot is functioning as a self-contained business unit inside Carbonite run by John Post, formerly Webroot’s CFO. As senior vice president and general manager, Post reports to Carbonite CEO Mohamad Ali.

Webroot CEO Mike Potts will leave Carbonite in a few months after a transition period, Guadagno said. He said there will be few other changes in the roles of Carbonite and Webroot employees, which now number around 1,600. Carbonite is based in Boston and Webroot will retain its headquarters in Broomfield, Colo.

When Carbonite and Webroot announced the acquisition in February, Potts said it made sense and that the workforce was excited.

“We may be able to put an end to ransomware,” if the deal can combine business continuity and endpoint security succinctly, Potts boldly predicted at the time.

“It’s a 1-2 punch against the bad guys,” Guadagno said.

Webroot, which is also cloud-based and offers network and endpoint protection, security awareness training and threat intelligence services, will continue to sell products through its channel and directly. There will be no immediate pricing changes.

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