Putting the Reins in Good Hands

January 24, 2019

After over 300 blog posts as CEO of Centrify, this will be my last Centrify blog post.

The reason is because after having co-founded Centrify nearly 15 years ago and building it with a great team of fellow employees into a leading $100+ million in revenue cybersecurity company, I have handed over the reins.

In fact, I have handed them to two people — Tim Steinkopf, who is now CEO of our Privileged Access/Identity Management business (aptly named Centrify!) and to Danny Kibel, who is now CEO our Next-Gen Access Management spin out from Centrify called Idaptive.

The fact that we are forming two businesses means great things for customers in that we plan to go deeper in each of those respective areas of identity while maintaining great interoperability between the solutions. We are already a leader per Gartner and Forrester in privileged and end-user access, so with this increased focus I expect those leadership positions to only increase.

Not going completely away

I am not completely stepping away from Centrify and Idaptive. I am an investor in both companies, and will be advising my friends at both whenever asked.

I personally plan to take 2019 off-ish but won’t be completely idle. I am now the head varsity softball coach at a Bay Area high school, have recently invested in two seed VC funds, and will maybe do a few more angel investments.

I am also available to do some miscellaneous ad hoc mentoring to folks in my network that ask (but fair warning: you will get what you pay for) and maybe do a few posts on LinkedIn re: my experiences as an entrepreneur. I also plan to read more books and work out more (the latter will be the hardest thing I do in 2019).

For those among our 5,000+ customers and partners who are reading this, thank you for putting your trust in us. We always strived to be customer- and partner-centric, and it was gratifying to see the consistently-high renewal rates and customer and partner satisfaction statistics over a 10+ year period. I know that focus will live on in both Centrify and Idaptive.

Even better news for customers, I see Centrify and Idaptive continuing to deliver on the original vision we had with Centrify, which resonated so well with customers and of course expanded and updated for the new wave of technology that customers are implementing.

Early Centrify Vision

That vision had its roots in what was known as “Directory-enabled Networking” (DEN). Back in the early 2000s I was intrigued by DEN, but saw that companies like Sun, Netware and Microsoft talked about it heavily in the mid- to late-1990s had moved on to other ideas less than a decade later.

Basically, the idea of DEN was that you could have “one ring to rule them all,” i.e. a single directory that could enforce user access, policy, etc. across multiple heterogenous systems, applications and network devices. It appeared that those big vendors could not deliver and they all moved onto something else, in part because they were just focused on their own platform versus focusing on being cross-platform.

So, in 2004 I dusted that idea off and co-founded Centrify (a play on the word centralization, as in centralizing access/policy/etc. into a single directory infrastructure) to deliver cross-platform directory and policy services. By focusing first on Linux, it naturally led us into doing Privileged Identity Management for IT users and, eventually, we expanded this one directory concept to apps and devices to help end-users get Single Sign-On while giving IT centralized access control.

Centrify has always been a technology leader. For example, we were the first to merge identity and mobility management into a unified solution. Now Centrify and Idaptive are already on the forefront of taking the original concept and extending their solutions to DevOps, SaaS, IaaS, microservices, etc.  Customers of Centrify and Idaptive should be excited about their respective roadmaps, and I know they will be sharing more with you about those innovations in early 2019.

Thank you

So thank you again, customers and partners!

For our investors, both new (Thoma Bravo) and old (Mayfield, Accel, Jackson Square Ventures, Index, Samsung Ventures, Docomo Capital), thanks for putting your trust in me and the team and supporting us and our vision.

For Centrify employees, I thanked you guys profusely in a recent town hall meeting and in a too lengthy email, so you know how I feel about you guys and appreciate what you all have built with me. Special shout-out to my co-founders Adam Au and Paul Moore for making this Centrify thing happen. I could not ask for better partners.

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I think in the end what makes a company special is working with people — i.e. customers, partners, investors and employees — you like and respect, and I am very fortunate to have done so over the last 15 years.

Feel free to keep in touch with me by following me on Twitter @TomKemp00 or connect with me on LinkedIn.