When Fortra acquired FileCatalyst, co-founder Chris Bailey was eager to trade in his CEO hat for the chance to focus on product management. Now senior product manager for Fortra’s Data Security and Secure File Transfer portfolios, he draws from more than two decades of expertise in fast file transfer to inform the direction of this popular suite of solutions.
A History of FileCatalyst
Chris and his business partner John Tkaczewski started FileCatalyst in 2000 to address the need to send large files across great distances as quickly as possible. “FileCatalyst sends files at maximum speed regardless of the location,” Chris says. “So, you could send something from Los Angeles to Tokyo at full line speed, whereas with other transfer tools like FTP or SFTP it would potentially go slower and slower the further away you are.”
As the years passed, FileCatalyst became a trusted tool as household names in healthcare, media, and entertainment used its powerful capabilities to speed up time-sensitive processes. This includes sending images, videos, and other large files quickly to experts on the other side of the world for next steps.
Ready for a Change
“We started the company and grew it to the point where we wanted to focus more on what we enjoyed doing,” Chris says. A software engineer and programmer by trade, Chris was eager to return to the product side and think less about the day-to-day running of the business. “The only way to do that was to look at having FileCatalyst acquired and become part of a bigger picture. We decided to see if we could take the next step, and that's when we hung up the for-sale sign and Fortra contacted us.”
A Smooth Acquisition
Discussions with Fortra began in the spring of 2020, becoming more serious by the fall. Throughout the process, Chris and John wanted to ensure their employees would be taken care of and had opportunities for career advancement. Ultimately, they became confident the two businesses would be a good fit, and Fortra rang in New Year’s Day 2021 with the acquisition.
Although employees who had been through such changes at other companies were initially skeptical, Chris says everything happened as the Fortra team had described it, which he found refreshing. “We always had a very good feeling when we were dealing with the M&A team, and it was definitely a good experience all around,” he says.
When thinking about the FileCatalyst culture, Chris notes the COVID-19 pandemic hit during the acquisition process, sending all team members to work from home. “When we were all in the office, it was very relaxed,” he says. “And from what I've seen at the Fortra office, it's very similar. Everyone’s focused but it’s very relaxed. We make sure that we’re able to apply ourselves and not push ourselves too hard, so it's a good mix of cultures.”
Chris’ Career Journey
“Having been co-founder and CEO, I wore eight or 10 different hats and was involved in pretty much everything,” Chris says. The acquisition has allowed him to take a welcome step back and concentrate on what he really wanted to do. “Being able to put on a single hat and focus on product management was very refreshing.”
Chris joined Fortra as the product manager for FileCatalyst, ready to combine his technical and people skills to synchronize development practices with business needs. He soon moved up a level to oversee product strategy for the company’s two other Secure File Transfer products, GoAnywhere and Globalscape. Chris works with the development teams to optimize the products and explore new ways to bundle capabilities. As Fortra works to integrate the products in its portfolio in more powerful ways, FileCatalyst will play a key role. “I’m excited to see where it heads going forward,” he says.
Moving from a 30-person company with a startup mentality to Fortra, which now has more than 3,000 team members, has offered Chris new opportunities for growth. “It’s giving me a feel for how larger companies work,” he says. “It's definitely rounding out my skills and enabling me to see how things scale at a much higher level than what I was used to in the past.”
Career Progression for the FileCatalyst Team
Having hired many of the employees at FileCatalyst over the years, Chris wanted to make sure the team had a good experience at Fortra. “The team has definitely grown, and some people have been able to pursue a career path they would never have gotten with FileCatalyst on its own.”
He says everything that the M&A team promised has come to fruition. “Several of the support and development leaders on the FileCatalyst side have actually moved up. So, they're not just support or development managers for FileCatalyst, they're across all of Secure File Transfer in some respects. They've had a good career progression.”
Chris says there's a lot more opportunity within Fortra for everyone to advance. “With a smaller company like FileCatalyst, there's always a feeling that once they get to a certain point, there's nowhere else for them to go,” he says. The acquisition has given all FileCatalyst team members a more defined career path. “If someone wants to move up, they can, or they can move to other products. I think that bodes well for the future.”