Sunday, 1 June 2008

The next move

Often, when I read other people's blogs, I look at the companies they are working for and think "well, they would say that, wouldn't they?" Richard Stiennon was very vocal whilst at Fortinet about all things firewall and network, at a time when I was coming down heavily on the other side of the fence. Chris Hoff, when at Crossbeam, talked a lot about UTM. Both of these guys are at the top of their game however, so their arguments also seemed reasoned and seasoned, and when they both moved to new jobs, their opinions remained broadly the same. Indeed Stiennon is now at a new startup with a similar message, and Hoff still refers to Crossbeam with reverence.

I fully admit that I have made mistakes in choosing various parts of my career path so far, hence why I took the last 2 months off and took advice from Rich Mogull, Mike Rothman and as many others who would listen to my limey whingeing. The general message I got was "take your time, listen to what comes your way, and act only when you think you've got something worth doing". In the meantime I was still in constant contact with the security community, vendors and colleagues. Jobs are not as thin on the ground as I had expected in the current downturn, possibly because of the heightened awareness, particularly in data security created by the mistakes our government have made over here recently.

It is therefore with great pride that I am able to report my latest move. I've just signed up Robert Newby and Associates (i.e. me) with PKWare for 12 months. I talked about some time ago when they first aroused my interest. I am going to be helping them make a big noise in the UK and EMEA. My reason for choosing this company...? Because I could. I'm genuinely excited about the software, the product direction and the easy story it tells. It aligns with everything I've ever thought about data security, and from the conversations I've had with the CTO and product managers, all I am likely to think about it in the coming months.

So what do you know of PKWare? The normal reaction to the name is "PKWhat?", so I say "you know PKZip?", which of course everyone does. "That's them." The history is interesting, and something I will write more on another time, but their future is what concerns me for now. PK are no longer just about zip, but security too, SecureZIP is just that, a secure zip product, encryption and compression in one. PartnerLink is again, just that, linking a company to their partners by encrypting, compressing and applying policies to data at source. I wrote about PartnerLink before, saying that it was something I'd wanted to get written when I was a product manager. I'm quite glad I didn't now, as this is better than I could have managed with my resources.

The products are good because they are simple ideas, effectively executed. Being a fully private company with no VC borrowing, there are no odd decisions passed down from people not involved in the business, so no nasty surprises or sell outs when the market is at its lowest point of appeal. Being a small company with an excellent pedigree, I can talk to the CTO as easily as I can the sales guy working on my accounts. This communication is evident throughout the company, most obviously to me by the quality of the software. At last, someone who QAs to their own deadlines, not the VCs'. So, I'm excited, I've found a breath of fresh air in an industry which looks like it's slightly lost its way of late.

So, look forward to lots more data security posts again now I'm back working amongst customers with real data security needs. And to those of you who have picked this up because you have a Google alert for "PKWare" - hi, good to be working with you.

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