Virgin Identity Management
Listening this morning to Euronews’ Global Conversation with Richard Branson about entrepreneurship, for some reason this took me back to the early days of MaXware, my very own stab at being an entrepreneur. One of the things that struck me is that the guy is so humble and gives a lot of credit to the enthusiastic team of people he built around him and contributed, to this day, in making Virgin such a successful global brand.
So how would Branson identify a group of people, that have the right skills and the talent to bring an idea like ‘Identity Management as a cloud service’ forward and make a real difference in people’s lives that also benefits organisations? After all, this is what he says he likes to do.
Branson says that one of the identity traits of an entrepreneur is, that when confronted with a setback he/she picks him/herself up and has another stab at it and does not give up at the first, second or umpthiest hurdle. So I guess he also must have allowed members of his growing team to suffer the occasional failure, and not like Alan Sugar in ‘The apprentice’ say “you’re fired! “at the first hurdle. I had a stab at building an Identity Cloud Service at Verizon, but conservative Telecom as they are, they thought it was all about flogging their digital certificates. Well the banks lost enough money on these already with their Identrust initiative. So why would the same people be trusted to make this a success at Verizon? It’s madness to try the same thing over and over and expect a different result. This is not what I had in mind, so I quit and left Dr. Tippett and his cronies to it. I had a track record of making serious money out of Identity Management to think of and this was going nowhere. There are plenty of of posts on IdentitySpace to make clear what I do think would work and make money!
At MaXware we were more of a leadership team than having just the one leading entrepreneur like Virgin’s Branson. Sure without the technical brilliance of our CTO Tor Even Dahl and his team of clever Norwegian programmers, we would not have a world beating product to sell to SAP. But then again, without the more commercial guys like me getting the orders at the crucial time and the finance and admin people watching the cash flow we might have perished along the way to a successful exit strategy. I think it was only when the VC money men were getting a bit anxious and impatient, that one or two useless managers were catapulted into our organisation. You may know the type? A flash smooth talking commercial git, someone that empties the order pipeline others have built up over years and claims he has made a personal commercial difference? Reminiscing again….
The next interesting item in the interview concerned what the successful entrepreneur does with the wealth thus created. The recent Davos news item of the 85 richest people being as wealthy as poorest half of the world was tweeted in as a question to comment on by Richard. Casually Branson mentioned just coming off the phone with Bill Gates who with his wife Melinda does great things with his money, if Taliban members and similar ignorant tribal leaders will let them, that is I was also impressed with Richard’s involvement with the ‘Elders’ organisation, an independent group of global leaders who work together for peace and human rights. They were brought together in 2007 by Nelson Mandela.
Coming back to the subject of Identity Management, I still have this dream that one day some captain of industry is going to take this idea of people managing their own Identity in the cloud forward, and turn it into a world enhancing solution that will create great wealth by solving an increasingly pernicious problem that erodes our privacy and freedoms every day. This solution would take away half the revenue of FaceBook and Google in no time by sharing the rewards with its users, instead of milking our identity for all its worth.
It seems I share this dream with at least one leading Chief Security Officer namely @adrius42 who on Jan 13 tweeted: “@lasancmt Sorry Marcus just dreaming! We’re on a journey enterprise centric, through service centric to entity centric, let’s not get stuck!”
I hope there will emerge soon, a Branson like thought leader, who will pick up this ball and run with it. I hope to be on his team! Maybe Virgin could pull it off? They already have the trusted global brand recognition. Virgin has a great asset here. People trust them enough to board their planes, so why not trust them when they vouch for someone’s on-line identity? I wouldn’t put it past Branson to crack this nut, if he turned his mind to it. It seems a lot less complicated than building a hotel in space! And if and when he does, he can have another island all to himself as far as I am concerned, (as long as I get to stay there a few weeks each year 😉