A Celebration of Day Zero
I’ve been in the security space for decades. The bulk of that time has been in identity and access management (IAM). I’ve even published a McGraw-Hill book on the subject. IAM is my baby. But my time in IAM has always been focusing on Day One stuff, as in, I know who you are, so now I’m going to provision you to the apps you can use as part of your role. Recently, I got an invite to do Day Zero stuff, as in, I don't provision you until I know you are truly who you say you are. Day Zero is ID verification. So I've moved my focus a little farther up the stack, touching the identities before they're fully formed. I made this career change because 1) I wanted a change of scene, and 2) Sunil Mahdu.
I met Sunil when he was a tech leader at Netegrity, a premier access management company (later acquired by CA), where I was leading a team of engineers and he was making the product bark like a dog on command. He knew the company’s technology and all the technology used by customers, and he could expertly make everything come together to produce great solutions for challenging problems. Some guys just deliver a hammer to pound a nail. Sunil had the whole toolbox and understood the entire architecture.
Sunil was always a gas. During kick-offs and training, he had the fun room at the hotel where everybody got together to laugh and decompress. He’s always been passionate about life, his family, and his work. He is never without strong opinions on how to do things in a powerful and efficient manner. He considers all aspects of a problem and how to crush it. There’s a chronic unrest to him, a nervous Type A energy that compels him to regularly look for the next hill to climb.
After some additional downstream startup success, Sunil founded Socure, our identity verification company, and ran it out of a co-founder’s loft for a time. His reputation in the industry allowed him to raise money and build a world-class product that prevents fraud and powers auto-acceptance for banks, fintechs, and dozens of other organizations. He envisioned and created a platform that uses AI and machine learning to get better results than any other solution on the market for keeping out the bad guys and allowing in the good ones.
To keep the momentum going, he brought in a bunch of talent to expand capabilities in data science, product delivery, and support. He brought in a new CEO. He attracted great people to complement his vision.
After years of perfecting that vision, Sunil has decided to move on to the next phase of his life. He’ll still be an advisor to Socure. And he is already looking for new ways to partner with Socure as he conquers fresh ground in the identity and security space. I’m sad to see him go, but very happy for him as well, knowing that he’s going to keep crushing it and create a whole new enterprise doing it. And hopefully find a whole new pocket of joy.
He has every reason to be proud of the house he built, and I’m proud that he invited me to join him. It’s Day Zero for him, because the guy who’s already shown the world who he is, and what he can do, is going to introduce himself all over again. Everyone who knows him is anxious to see him crush it one more time.