JAMF Software plans to announce Thursday that it has hired a new CEO to try and take the fast-growing Apple-only developer to the next level.
Dean Hager, a veteran technology executive who most recently was CEO of the larger Kroll Ontrack, will succeed longtime co-CEO Zach Halmstad, who founded the company in 2002, and co-CEO Chip Pearson.
"Last December, the board took a look at the way the business has been growing, and it has been astonishing," said Pearson, 46, of a private company that has grown from 250 to 432 employees since 2013. It does not release financials. "We said let's find somebody who's led a bigger software company and somebody who not only understands the product side, but the go-to-market side and strategy."
Hager, 48, resigned from Kroll Ontrack in 2014, saying he wanted to take a break.
"I've been in high technology for 25 years at IBM, Lawson Software and Kroll Ontrack, and about a year ago, I decided to leave Kroll and focus on personal interests," Hager said. "I knew that to jump back into high technology would take something really compelling."
JAMF, which develops software to manage Apple devices, has "a Silicon Valley feel and Midwest values," Hager said. "Businesses and schools … are continuing to adopt Mac, iPad, and iPhone devices in droves. This creates an enormous opportunity for JAMF by providing an easy way to manage these devices, helping organizations both large and small succeed with Apple."
Pearson and Halmstad will remain key advisers, product developers, ambassadors and board members. They and one other longtime board member control the majority of the stock. JAMF raised $30 million in venture financing in 2013 from big Silicon Valley venture capital firm Summit Partners and GSV Capital.
Dan Carr, who analyzed and promoted local growth companies for nearly 30 years through the Collaborative and its investor presentations and forums, commended Halmstad and Pearson for "the presence to seek what is best for continuing that growth."
"Sometimes that can mean turning over the reins of the company you've raised from infancy," Carr said. "I've known Chip since the early days, and while he has the ego and vision as an entrepreneur to have built JAMF from scratch, he also has the character and self- awareness to seek outside resources to maximize the opportunity. This move by the founders to bring in a seasoned CEO to help continue their growth is evidence of strong leadership on their part."
JAMF started in 2002 when founder Halmstad was working in desktop support at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. He was frustrated by the lack of tools technology administrators need for tasks like managing passwords and security, pushing out software patches, even keeping track of computers. Microsoft Windows had a full toolbox of management software for administrators. Halmstad decided to start developing that software to manage iMacs.
Pearson joined JAMF in 2006. The company, based in the Grain Exchange Building, still has a large employee commitment in Eau Claire.
And JAMF has ridden the popularity of Apple technology. More than 5,000 businesses and schools use JAMF software to manage 4.4 million devices globally.