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Building a Mid-Market Cyber Security Company from Utah: Peter Bookman, CEO of Guard Dog (Part 4)

Posted on Thursday, Jan 13th 2022

Sramana Mitra: Let’s come back to your story. Did Fusion-io go public?

Peter Bookman: It did. It was relatively smooth. A year and a half later, I left to start a virtual desktop company. That transacted again to another storage company Sandisk. I love listening to and solving a real problem. Whether we look at virtual private networks that are very prolific and common today as well as storage, they’re not in all of the cloud.

Sramana Mitra: What did you do after you left?

Peter Bookman: Somewhere in all of that, I became passionate about how to apply that same high-performance storage so that we could deliver high-performance application and desktop streaming experiences. I did a license deal with Fusion-io and applied it to how to capture a desktop experience using really fast storage so you don’t need to have as much RAM and all the complicated stuff that you typically need. That company ended up selling to a publicly-traded Canadian company. That then went on to NASDAQ. I held the role of global strategist for the company that bought my company.

During that time, I had a friend who rattled my cage a little bit and called my attention to the cyber security industry. He knew that that was one of my college majors. I’ve always loved cryptography. He did the most audacious thing of taking his laptop on vacation to Mexico as a broker. I’m doing this wonderful thing for my clients and yet, there happens to be a bad guy on that WiFi network. It was heartbreaking really.

It was 2015 when I started playing with technology. He said, “It’s 2015. How are we still not safe to do computing?” While no capital was stolen, privacy was stolen enough to cause damage. The cyber security professional world needs one to have lots of understanding and knowledge base. A cyber security certification is usually two years on top of what you have. You don’t just jump into cybersecurity. Then you have to spend a decent amount of time doing it. We use weird terms to describe how you become somebody who can defend against hackers. The goal was to a zero day.

That’s what struck me at that time. There’s something a little odd in cyber security where we have all this expertise. Yet the best we’re going to get is someone getting hacked. Then no one else has to get hacked if the knowledge gained from it is there. That’s an odd thing, especially with what’s going on in the industry. We’re able to anticipate things. We can make machines act faster than we can and play war games with each other. That V3 company fed right into self-funding the technology side. We just focused on the technology. We really just wanted to teach a machine how to watch a network for attempted exploits.

I always appreciate being able to make it fun. Technology has always been fun for me. I was recently speaking to a member of my team that we just recruited who has this rich background in AI. He was surprised to learn that I coded. I haven’t coded a lot in the last couple of years. What I love about coding is it’s one of those wonderful artful places where you can create something from nothing. It’s magical to me. It’ll always be fun whether helping other people or doing it myself. That’s just really cool.

Sramana Mitra: What happened after you self-funded the technology development? We’re now talking about the current company, right?

Peter Bookman: Yes.

Sramana Mitra: What did you hit upon that seems like something somebody’s going to pay for?

Peter Bookman: Through my career, I had opportunities to do cyber security audits. This is very common for companies that have governance. I need to know what my snapshot of network and devices looks like. The application of the technology we were playing with took form as more of a consulting. It was applying this technology where Peter Bookman or any of my team didn’t need to spend as much energy and resources on doing the audits because we can deploy with a device.

At that time, it didn’t matter what the device was. We didn’t brand the device. It will do a vulnerable assessment for you, so that I don’t have to do it. I don’t have to bring my laptop in. It will just sit on the network, and it’ll do a vulnerability assessment. It will also begin capturing data and learning about your network. Then we had a separate playfulness. We went out to some of these exploitative behaviors are common like coffee shop and deliberately played with them.

What we’ve discovered along the way was that a lot of bad guys aren’t necessarily the bad guys. My children have their phone and they go to a coffee shop and get hacked. They bring their compromised devices into a network that ought to be known except it’s my home. We are inherently vulnerable in the networks we join.

Sramana Mitra: They’re not malicious actors. The question that I want to get at is were you positioning this to solve enterprise problems?

Peter Bookman: One of the books I highly recommend to people is Blue Ocean Strategy. I really like mid-market because I can go both ways. It tends to be a very difficult market. They tend to not have the capital. They don’t tend to have the complexity of managing a million consumers. Entering at the middle is a strategy I recommend and like.

This segment is part 4 in the series : Building a Mid-Market Cyber Security Company from Utah: Peter Bookman, CEO of Guard Dog
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