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AVG's Luke Walling Discusses Dave Sobel Resignation, Future Plans

Luke WallingYesterday, we reported the speculation and chatter regarding the possibility of Dave Sobel’s whereabouts at the ChannelPro SMB Forum in New Jersey earlier this week. This morning, we received a response from AVG regarding the Director of Partner Community’s position and status at the company, which confirmed that he is in fact no longer affiliated with AVG.

(Pictured): Luke Walling, AVG's VP of SMB Sales and Operations for North America.

In a statement released to SMB Nation, AVG responded with the following: “Dave (Sobel) was a contractor for LPI and resigned his position at the end of August. He was never an AVG employee. We have committed channel teams in place that are looking after the community.”

The speculation surrounding Sobel’s status with AVG first arose when the company sent another executive, Vince LaPietra, AVG’s Sales Manager for North America, to deliver the AVG-sponsored keynote address at the event. It was then when the buzz started, and we reached out to AVG for clarification.

To further explain the AVG statement, as well as what the next steps will be for AVG regarding Sobel’s former position, I spoke today with Luke Walling, AVG’s VP of SMB Sales and Operations for North America. Walling clarified that Sobel had worked with LPI on a contractual basis prior to the acquisition, simply because LPI is a Canadian-based entity, and Sobel is a U.S. Citizen. Had he continued to stay with AVG, the same arrangement would have been carried over.

“I wish Dave well, and I would have preferred to still have him onboard,” Walling said. “He is a great guy, and did great work for LPI, and for AVG (following the acquisition). What he did for AVG was very important, and we will continue to build upon that legacy going forward.”

While Walling said that AVG does not currently have someone officially working in Sobel’s former position, he did say that it is something that the company is going to build out moving forward, since enablement and community are paramount to AVG and its partner community. The individuals intended for this community/enablement type team are not yet in place. However, Walling noted that in the meantime, partners can be assured that he, LaVecchia, AVG’s General Manager Mike Foreman, and the entire AVG sales team, will be available for help and assistance. “Our plan is that we are going to look to broaden the services that we currently offer to our partners, and we will manage community in the same way and how we help our channel partners grow,” Walling said. “We all have a channel background, and the management team in that place is all focused and we continue to actively communicate and engage with them.”

Walling also noted that David Haadsma, AVG’s senior director product management will also continue to engage with partners on the company’s products such as Managed Workplace and CloudCare. “We are very conscious of the need to fill the purposes of Dave’s (Sobel’s) former position,” Walling said. “It’s very important to continue to service and engage our channel partners; however, we don’t set the bar based on the past, we want to do better. That’s not anything specific to how anyone has performed, but more, rather, it is really about the business as a whole and at the end of the day how we are engaging our partners.”

Of course it’s no secret that Sobel isn’t the first from LPI to depart since the acquisition by AVG occurred in June. Other well-known key executives and staff, such as Dan Wensley, Rob Rae, Jeff Dryall, Urvish Badiani and Nadia Karatsoreos have all moved on to new positions, and even Walling himself was open about the visible “mass exodus” of sales team members that have exited the company in recent months.

One of the original LPI executives who remain is former CEO Peter Sandiford, who currently serves as VP of Business Development, as well as the former LPI engineering team. “There definitely have been some bumps in the road (since the acquisition),” Walling admitted. “Of course whenever there is any type of change, people are going to leave. I do not enjoy it, especially since we lost some really great talent, and Dave was definitely part of that talent.” However, our mission is to continue to charge ahead each day to build out the best possible results for our partners.”

While anyone in business knows that it is almost impossible to please everyone, Walling told me that each day, that’s what he and team strive to do—please everyone as much as possible, and that of course includes AVG’s partner network. “Every day, I hear both negative and positive comments, but we work as hard as possible, and we will always try to please everyone,” he said. “At the end of the day, the customers are the boss, they control if we live or die. With that being said, if a partner is not confident with any of our products, I want to hear from them directly. We are very serious about our partners and that they are satisfied with what we do.”

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