New GM for Identity leader SureID

I’m a startup guy. In 2012, I had the opportunity to do another startup. I was talking to venture capitalists and seed partners about funding my next new idea. I won’t go into too many details about the concept and the tech now, but it has been ironically satisfying to see the basic kernel of my idea become a Black Mirror episode. In other words, my idea was viable enough to be conceptualized as one future possible and showcased on a popular TV show, seven years after I first conceived of it, and put the pieces in place to build the tech. It’s weirdly satisfying, and also terrifying to see the Black Mirror version of my intended future.

At that time, I also had in play an offer from a great team led by Peter Biddle at Intel, to come join them and deliver a new identity-based set of cloud services that could move Intel from a side-player in cloud services and identity solutions into a front runner. Peter is a dynamic and inspiring leader: I was inspired by his vision and his record of execution. And so I ditched my nascent startup and joined up with the Intel Services Division at Intel. We had a wonderful run of it – many challenges to surmount, chief among them an internal culture that had a hard time learning how to monetize software and cloud services. I met some amazing co-workers, like  Margaret BurgraffBrooks Talley and Erik Holt, and was able to work alongside stellar thought leaders in the industry, including luminaries I respect like Bruce Horn, Lama Nachman, Genevieve Bell and Monica Martinez-Canales. These team members inspired me, and I learned so much from their partnership and collegiality on the journey.

We launched the Intel Context Sensing SDK, with keynote acclamation by Intel’s senior leadership. My architectural and product leadership helped our product line to navigate through many turbulent waters to achieve great success. I’m very proud of the several engineering teams that contributed to this code base. I have especially fond memories of living in Argentina and working day to day with my team there in South America. I also have great memories of building a new team in the United States and hiring stellar engineering leads like Neelay Shah.

Today, Intel’s Context Sensing  libraries are deployed on tens of millions of devices. My team made user interactions and biometric solutions better for Intel’s partners all over the world. Over time, the team I led morphed into another software organization inside Intel. In this new organization over the past year, I’ve been able to build another great organization and lead another team of fantastic technical consulting engineers. I made a positive difference at Intel.

In summer 2018, I was approached by the executive recruiting team at Sterling Talent Solutions. The team at Sterling had recently brought back their dynamic founding CEO, Billy Greenblatt, and Billy had a big vision to revitalize his company and take it to the next level of financial and technology success. He was making acquisitions, and he was no longer content with the status quo.

At first, I was hesitant to talk to Sterling. I’d made such an impact at Intel, and I was leading this great new team of technical consulting engineers that I’d hand-picked for success. In fact, over the coming year, we had wonderful prospects for our future as a team. Yet when I got on the phone with Billy and with VP Lou Paglia, they changed my mind. Their perspective was the same hungry-to-make-a-difference mindset that I’d seen in Peter Biddle, and their ambition matched mine.

Billy wanted to hire me to be General Manager and functional local CEO for a highly capable team that they’d just acquired from a company that had weathered some tough times. Sterling felt they had just made a great acquisition in SureID, based in Portland. But they really needed a senior leader of my stature and experience to help take Sterling to the next level in biometric authentication and identity validation. As I spoke further to both the Sterling executive team and the local SureID team, I became deeply impressed at the caliber of discussion and knowledge within the identity industry. Every question I asked was welcomed with open arms, and every team member I met was fully engaged and striving to learn more, grow more, and build a fantastic next-generation company.

This was a startup mentality, at its core. Every team member was thinking about how to move the needle, and every person I spoke to had a startup mindset – they wanted to get the job done, and didn’t think of job titles or hierarchy standing in their way. They were building something great, and every shoulder was on the wheel, pushing forward. In my discussions with Billy and Lou, I increasingly found myself on their side in every conversation, asking questions, pushing forward into new territory.

I was also slipping into startup mode – I was no longer thinking of how to navigate a vast corporate hierarchy or what obstacles might lie in the way – I was thinking in terms of rapid growth trajectories, customer satisfaction and building technology at scale. I became genuinely excited by the idea of taking the SureID team – which had weathered so many challenges – to the next level of personal and professional success. I’d be a functional CEO of a startup again, but with the protection of a larger company and larger ambitions beyond my small and focused team.

In the end, what pushed me over the edge was the technical and philosophical challenge. Ever since Dick Hardt’s wonderful “Identity 2.0” presentation, I’ve been intrigued by the challenges and opportunities of identity validation. Meeting Dick a few years ago and thinking through ideas with him changed the way I conceived of identity and where it could go in the future — his ideas led directly to my first startup, TeleTrust

I rapidly learned that in the identity industry, once you learn something, you discover that there are fifty new things to learn behind that one locus of knowledge. I love this challenging environment. I’m excited to help build the future of identity as the leader of this team. I love the fact that I’ll now be leading a team who all share this passion for learning, and this passion for success. Today, I’m excited to be leading the team as GM for SureID and Vice President for Sterling!

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