Apple has greatly expanded its presence in large companies over the past few years, reaching 23% market share, up from just 3% two decades ago. The success of the iPhone and iPad as consumer devices served as an engine of growth for MAC usage in the office.
“Growth in Mac usage among business users, especially for employees working remotely and given their choice of PC device, is pushing more businesses to formally adopt management tools and strategies around macOS, along with iOS/iPadOS and tvOS,”stated Phil Hochmuth, program vice president, Enterprise Mobility and Client Endpoint Management, IDC, in a prepared statement.
That’s where Kandji comes in. “Kandji is a next-generation platform for centrally securing and managing your Mac, iPhone, iPad, and Apple TV devices. IT teams save countless hours of manual, repetitive work with features like one-click compliance templates and more than 150 pre-built automations, apps, and workflows,” says co-founder and CEO Adam Pettit.
The company’s fortunes have followed Apple’s rise in the enterprise. Pettit only founded the Sand Diego-based Kandji along with his brother Wesley and Mark Daughter in 2018 and its software platform was only fully commercially available for a full year in 2020. “We’re seeing really, really impressive triple digit growth and we don’t see that slowing down anytime soon,” says Pettit. The company experienced 5X top-line growth year-over-year and grew its employee base from 40 to over 300 in the past year.
That trajectory has allowed the company to raise $188.4 million in venture funding in a short amount of time, including its latest C round for $100 million in November 29, 2021 led by Tiger Global with participation from Definition, Frontline Ventures and existing investors First Round Capital, Greycroft, Felicis Ventures, The Spruce House Partnership, B Capital Group, SVB Capital and Okta Ventures. The round valued the company at $800 million, up 10X from its previous round just a few months prior.
“My two co-founders, Mark and Wesley, the three of us had worked together for over a decade. Prior to Kandji, we actually started another business together, which was called Interlaced. That was an IT services business, that was hyper focused on working with organizations that were deploying Apple devices. The business we started in around 2009, we just got a trend of organizations buying and deploying Apple devices, but not really having access to a great network of consultants or thought leaders that could have advise them on the right way to integrate Apple within their business,” says Pettit.
Certainly, there were partners that existed in the market to serve the need of IT organisations to help them manage their Apple devices at the time, but the Interlaced mission was to create the most operationally mature provider of Apple IT services nationally. The co-founders built that business up over the course of nine years.
“We had a lot of customers come to us in those early days and they said, ‘Hey, we’re purchasing X number of Apple devices, but our internal IT department doesn’t really have a plan.’ That’s why they would come to us. And so we built a reputation working for a lot of high growth technology customers that had internal IT and security functions, but their functions weren’t really equipped to handle Apple at scale. And so that’s how we built our business. And doing that, we of course worked with a number of vendors that existed on the market and our observations were that number one, there was no one on the market that was focused on automation or experience. And so there was just a gap generally. And so, our job became a lot of manual redundant repetitive work, rather than just leveraging smart software to accelerate the work,” says Pettit.
To meet the demand for software to automate the provisioning and management of Apple devices in the workplace, the founders sold Interlaced to Evergreen Services Group for an undisclosed amount in 2018 and began working on Kandji.
“We knew that this was a big market. We knew it was growing quickly and we knew that the incumbents that existed, didn’t have a focus on automation or experience. And so we thought we could build something that was really highly differentiated and own this idea of, if you use our platform, we will make your entire workforce more secure and more productive,” says Pettit.
The Pettit brothers grew up in the San Francisco, Bay Area in Marin County. And from an early age, they were always fascinated with Apple devices. They always had Apple devices growing up. Their father was an architect with his own practice and was himself an Apple enthusiast. The brothers then became the defacto IT support group for his firm.
Even in high school, Pettit was known as someone to go to for Apple support. He realized at a point that there was an opportunity to monetize that by starting his first business providing Apple IT support when he was a sophomore and continued it through high school. After high school, he went on to earn his degree in entrepreneurship and economics at the University of Oregon, Charles H. Lundquist College of Business.
“We were exposed to the idea of running our own business. I saw first hand the idea of a business running on Apple and the dynamics of what it takes to actually successfully deploy, manage and secure Apple devices within a business before it was widely popular to do so. And at the time it was very rare to see a business that ran on Apple. So that I think really got me interested in the idea of running my own business and extending this idea of how can I empower other businesses to be successful with Apple,” says Pettit.
Pettit started his own consulting firm out of college before teaming up with his brother Wesley and Mark Daughter to found Interlaced in 2009, prior to starting Kandji in 2018.
On working with his older brother Wesley, Pettit say, “We get along really well. Actually, we balance each other out. He’s the brilliant product, strategist and that’s why he runs product and I run the business. Our personalities are different enough that we actually complement each other really well. And it actually makes a great match. I couldn’t imagine doing it without him,” says Pettit.
As for the future? “We want to empower organizations globally with their Apple devices. And we see a lot of really strong signals in the market. In fact, 25% of our top-line revenue comes from outside the United States. And so we really look at Kandji as we look into the future as a global company serving organizations across the entire globe,” concludes Pettit.