By Peter High, Published on Forbes
Mickey Boodaei has been a leading entrepreneur in the security space for years. He co-founded Imperva, which went public on the New York Stock Exchange in 2011, and he co-founded Trusteer, which was sold to IBM for $1 billion in 2013. Soon after the latter acquisition, he founded Transmit Security.
Interestingly, Boodaei did so without seeking venture capital. He indicated that by putting his own money (and that of co-founder Rakesh Loonkar) into the start-up, it felt more like when he founded his first firms, but in this case, there was no one else to answer to.
Transmit Security provides, “a cross-channel identity platform that is designed to simplify, accelerate, and reduce the cost of identity-related projects,” as Boodaei explains. He also notes that “security and customer experience are the two most important goals of any organization today. We bundle these together and address them as a single challenge.” In this interview, he explains his personal journey as a CEO, the importance of a strong co-founder, and his opinions on the evolving threat landscape.
Peter High: You are the Chief Executive Officer of Transmit Security. Can you provide an overview of the company?
Mickey Boodaei: We founded [the company] four and a half years ago with the goal of building a cross-channel identity platform that is designed to simplify, accelerate, and reduce the cost of identity-related projects. These include projects such as authentication, authorization, fraud prevention, account opening, among others. Our R&D Center is in Tel Aviv, Israel, and the rest of our technical teams are physically close to our customers in the US and Europe.
As a company, we focus on large enterprises with millions of end-user customers. Most of our customers to date have been banks, insurance companies, telcos, and retailers. We have two global financial customers with over 20 million users each, and about 20 customers with more than five million users each. Our customers typically use our platform to consolidate and accelerate multiple initiatives in the identity space. For example; multi-factor authentication in biometrics, behavioral analytics, and advanced fraud detection, attributes-based access control, new data protection regulations, using the mobile device as an authenticator for call centers, branch and web, authorization and authentication around open API’s, and more.
High: Yours is an organization that is experiencing extraordinary growth, and you have been able to do so without venture funding. Could you talk about the way in which you have grown, as well as the advantages of having done so without taking on venture funding in your early stages?
Boodaei: Our goal was to build a big company that is focused on what we enjoy doing around cybersecurity, which is working with large enterprises. We wanted absolutely zero external pressure as to the direction of the company or the speed in which we are growing. Therefore, my co-founder Rakesh Loonkar and I decided to invest our own money in the company.
We have been relatively successful in the past, so we could afford the risk of losing many millions if we failed. Today, Transmit is a profitable company, so the investment paid off. Not taking money from venture capitalists is not something everyone can do, so we consider ourselves lucky to be able to fund ourselves. Personally, I find it uncomfortable taking someone else’s money when I can do this with my own.
I also believe that it made us more focused and got us to work harder. If you look at first-time entrepreneurs, they are eager to secure their future. For us, by using a considerable amount of our own fortune, we created a strong motivation for ourselves to succeed that is not dissimilar from first-time entrepreneurs. This is the idea behind the self-funding concept of our company.