‘Cyber attackers to hit APAC, ANZ after Brexit and US, France election meddling’ : Centrify CEO Tom Kemp

And so we arrive at the very last installment of my convo with Centrify CEO Tom Kemp, a few weeks ago in Silicon Valley.  We hope you enjoyed this three-part serial.

Telecom Times  How do you see the ANZ market developing for Centrify in the longer term? And how do you target that market as compared to your broader APAC strategy?

Tom Kemp I think what’s happening is, there are going to be new drivers for security in the form of compliance. We’re seeing that with GDPR in Europe and we saw that with the Monetary Authority of Singapore.

No doubt you’re probably more familiar than I am with some of the new privacy rules and regulations that will be coming out, not only in ANZ but in Singapore and Korea as well.

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I think increasingly, there is going to be awareness of the need to protect users’ privacy and security. I think that will be a big driver for us.

Historically we haven’t seen that in Asia-Pacific, but now I think GDPR is going to loom over APAC, and I think people will look to adopt something comparable that should further drive the deployment of technologies that can secure users and their privacy.

I also think that the same nation states that first focused their attacks in Europe – and as we saw with Brexit and some of the recent – the French elections – and of course in the US – I think they’re probably going to take their act and start looking at, see if they can disrupt democracies in APAC as well.

I think the combination of new regulatory compliance, as well as the nation states going – you know, first they did Brexit, then they did the US, now they’re going to go to Australia and New Zealand, to try and take advantage of the same vulnerabilities that exist.

A lot of the vulnerabilities exist with the fact that we’re dealing with humans here, who can be phished and have their usernames and passwords stolen.

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I mean someone would probably just love to steal – much like they stole John Podesta’s [data], the campaign manager of Hillary Clinton – they would love to steal the password for your Prime Minister.

Telecom Times  Sure. As one of the founders can you tell me a bit more about the start-up days. Just looking back, what were some of the aspects of founding a significant company that turned out to be easier than you had imagined?

And also what were some things you found surprisingly difficult?

Tom Kemp  The key thing when you’re a founder is to have very good founders. And I’m very blessed to have two great co-founders. The second thing is that once you have the initial set of your founding team, you need to bring in really good people. In technology, it’s so critical because it is all about building, coding – building product.

So the most important thing is: Hire good engineers that can build the product and implement the vision that you have as a founder. If you don’t have the right people, it’s not like I can sit there and code everything myself, right?

I think the most important thing in a software company is: it’s about the most valuable asset [that] walks out the door every night, right?

The lesson that I’ve learned is – it really revolves around hiring the right people, and that’s never easy, right?

You have to spend a lot of time investing in interviewing people – trying to see not only if people are competent, but if there is the right cultural fit.

If you’re fortunate to put together the right team, you can go very far because the reality is, a lot of companies have the same ideas. But it’s: what team can better execute?

Telecom Times  Just out of interest –  I’ve heard different theories about why the location of Silicon Valley has been such a hotbed of innovation, technology and progress. I wonder if you have a theory of your own that you’d like to leave me with?

Tom Kemp  There are many reasons why Silicon Valley has had such amazing success. I mean, first of all, you have the Universities that have put out great technical engineers, not only in computer science but mechanical engineering in all forms; chemical engineering.  All forms of technology.

When you have a hub of great universities like Stanford and UC Berkeley, you just have a lot of smart people coming here.

The second thing that was very valuable is access to capital – you have a set of people who were willing to invest.

I think another thing that is very important is the fact that in California the non-competes are not enforceable, [which] gives the flexibility for people to move to different jobs.

You find in other regions that an employer says, ‘Oh, you can’t do something comparable at another company.’ But here… [it] allows people to freely move and cross-pollinate like a bee going from company to company, as opposed to just having the ideas being locked in one company under lock and key.

And I think the other thing is, is that Silicon Valley is the ultimate meritocracy where, from a cultural perspective we don’t care about your race, nationality or sexual orientation. We value merit.

We value great ideas. And this is one of the few places in the world where, if you’re smart, have a great idea and want to work hard, you can monetise that and no-one’s going to discriminate against you for any reason because people value hard work and great ideas.

And you don’t see that in a lot of different places in the world.