Ted discusses anti-piracy.
Sramana Mitra: Let’s start by introducing our audience to yourself as well as to Cylynt.
Ted Miracco: I’m the co-founder and CEO of Cylynt. We are a cyber security company. We have locations in Dublin, Ireland and Los Angeles, California. We focus on anti-piracy technology, cyber security, and protecting intellectual property from theft, particularly, software intellectual property.
We’ve been around since 2014 and growing rapidly. We protect over $40 billion dollars in software assets today. That’s growing all the time. It’s a pleasure to be here.
Sramana Mitra: Let’s double-click down a bit. Help us understand how you do what you do. Probably the best way to do that would be to do a few use cases.
Ted Miracco: Maybe I should back up a bit and tell you how I got into this esoteric field. I’m a serial entrepreneur. My first company was an electronic design and automation company. We were developing software for designing semiconductors.
We were on the forefront of the wireless revolution. We were helping people design chips for cell phones as well as electronic warfare. We had a big problem growing the company because everybody was stealing our software. We developed on a Windows platform.
Our software was expensive – around $25,000 to $50,000 per licensed user. We were doing well from a sales perspective in North America and Europe but we had a tremendous problem in Asia. We were seeing posts on the internet within days of a release coming out. It was getting cracked.
We were struggling to grow the company because people wouldn’t pay for the software if they can download a free copy. We tried to work with commercial vendors. The license manager that we were using said, “We’re not an anti-piracy solution. We’re only there to count licenses and make sure that your honest customers are staying honest.” We said, “That’s not good enough.”
We’re trying to grow a business. We can’t grow if there are cracks available. We started to track it and develop our own solution. We developed a very primitive capability that would just report the serial number so that we could check for updates and see if there was a newer version.
Once we started to to do that, we noticed that 60% of the install base was using crack serial numbers. 40% of the users were subsidizing these companies that were not paying for it. That was a big problem. Long story short, we developed both technology and processes to protect that intellectual property.
We were able to recover significant revenue. Most of the time, it didn’t involve any kind of litigation. In a couple of cases with one notable case in China, we had to litigate to be compensated. This company refused to pay. We took them to court and won a landmark summary judgement against them.
It launched a lot of awareness in the EDA space on the importance of protecting IP. It also levelled the playing field so that companies designing chips are all competing on a fair basis. One company isn’t subsidizing the development of the tool while another company is able to use those exact tools for free.
That was my first company. We sold that to National Instruments in 2011. After working through that, I was more excited about anti-piracy than designing RF and microwave semiconductors. This was an open space.
I have been working closely with Chris Laughton who’s with IPCA and was helping us a lot. We started to brainstorm. We were both in Barcelona at one point and we started to think about what we could do if we put together the process and know-how that we had developed.