Pythian names new CEO as Ottawa firm aims to ride wave of growth in big-data analytics

Keith Angell
New Pythian CEO Keith Angell. Photo courtesy Pythian

Keith Angell understands that despite the tsunami of data that business leaders are bombarded with every day, the numbers that still matter most are on the top and bottom lines of the balance sheet.

And that, he says, is why he’s so excited about his new job as chief executive of Ottawa-based consulting big-data analytics firm Pythian. After 30 years in the C-suite at tech companies ranging from startups to giants such as IBM, Angell knows that ill-fated decisions can cripple even a successful company’s finances ​– and one of the keys to avoiding bad decisions is good information.

The problem, he says, is figuring out just what that information is and where to find it.

“Every enterprise is struggling with their explosion of data,” explains Angell, who holds master’s degrees in finance and engineering. “Data is doubling every year or two at a pace that’s just never been experienced before. They’re struggling with what to do with all that data – how to  manage it and how to get value out of it.”

That’s where Pythian comes in. 

Founded in 1997, the company offers tech consulting and data analytics services to more than 600 customers, including big names such as Toyota, Fox Sports and online retailer Rakuten.

In addition to providing IT support and management to customers running platforms such as Google Cloud, Amazon Web Services, Oracle and Microsoft Azure, Pythian also uses big-data analytics to help food retailers and other clients with tasks such as managing their supply chains – drawing on data sources including point-of-sale platforms and invoicing applications to, for example, quickly determine which items on an e-commerce site are the hottest sellers and ordering more right away or, on the flip side, put a screeching halt to new shipments of goods that are languishing on the proverbial shelf.

Pythian president Keith Millar – who took over as the firm’s de facto leader after former CEO Paul Vall​ée left the company last year – praised the appointment of Angell.

“Keith Angell is a vital addition to this enhanced Pythian leadership team as we experience strong growth in our professional and managed services,” he said in a statement.

Angell, who earned his bachelor’s degree in engineering at Duke University in North Carolina, served as a senior executive or CEO at more than half a dozen U.S. tech companies before taking the helm at Pythian. 

A decade of his career was spent at IBM, where he held a variety of roles in sales and business development before becoming Big Blue’s senior vice-president of cloud transformation. For the past year, he’s been an operating partner at New York-based private equity firm Mill Point Capital, which acquired Pythian last last summer.

Angell joined Pythian’s board of directors following the acquisition, and he’s spent the past nine months getting an up-close look under the company’s hood. He says Pythian’s in-depth knowledge of cloud-based public data storage platforms such as Google Cloud is one of the things that sets it apart from the pack. 

Pythian gained an even stronger foothold in the cloud space earlier this spring when it acquired Minneapolis-based Agosto, which sells and administers Google’s cloud computing platform as well as the tech giant’s other cloud-based software products.

Angell says services such as Google Cloud have “really changed the market dynamics of what you can do with all this data.” He says Pythian’s expertise in cloud data management and analysis has been in even greater demand since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic as companies strive to find every efficiency they can in the face of the global economic downturn.

The firm remains on pace for double-digit revenue growth in 2020, Angell says, adding many customers have “doubled down because this is a time when they can get ahead of their competition by leveraging all of that data.”

Pythian now has more than 370 employees, 120 of them at the company’s Ottawa headquarters. The firm also has offices in New York, where Angell will remain based, as well as Minneapolis, London and Hyderabad, India.