Listen to Hari on the Dare to Move podcast discussing entrepreneurship with Garrett Nicole Wood.
Networking has expanded from the traditional model of industry events and watercooler discussions to a broad digital world ruled by social media. Stuck in our old ways, many of us in the technology world are missing out on opportunities in the digital realm by not realizing that social is the modern way to learn about advancements in our profession, inspire employees and establish credibility.
Whether you are looking to expand your career journey, raise awareness of your current organization, attract new investors or talent, or enhance existing professional relationships, building and maintaining an authentic online presence is a great way for technology executives or entrepreneurs to expand their reach and impact. These activities offer clear value, both on a personal level and for businesses as social media continues to evolve from a business to consumer marketplace to an integral part of doing business in a digital-first world.
From building past businesses, I’ve seen firsthand how impactful social platforms can be. Now that I’m back to my entrepreneurial roots, it’s something I’m making a conscious effort to work on. I’ve learned that while establishing an authentic online presence takes time, it’s easier than you may think. The key to success is actually quite simple — reach the right people with genuine, relevant content at the right time. Below are four key steps I’ve found success with to get you started.
Define Your Point of View
To me, the first and most important step in creating an effective online presence that will enable authentic interactions and constructive thought leadership is to define your unique point of view. Think about the topics you want to talk about based upon your current role and experience, including your life experience. You’re a distinct, one-of-a-kind individual with your own way of thinking, speaking and engaging with thoughts and ideas, so your online and social media presence should reflect that. Ask yourself what voice and content make the most sense considering your background and personality, and don’t be afraid to be yourself.
Ask yourself: What is the biggest differentiator among your peers? What motivates you? What are you known for, personally and professionally? What trends do you notice in your industry?
Your online persona will be a combination of these traits, as expressed through what you post, share and say. This exercise can also allow you to establish some guide rails for approaching your channels, including content topics, voice and tone, engagement style and target audience. This will help you create consistent and authentic profiles and content, which your followers will be more likely to engage with (and hopefully share). It’s helpful to always remember you’re not just a conduit: Your individual voice and honest point of view should be a part of anything you share.
Build And Expand Your Network
Expanding and building your network online isn’t all that different from the traditional networking model. Just like how going to industry events builds your influence through personal connections, I’ve found that your following will grow just by being an active user online, producing content and engaging with others. You can organically grow your following by executing best practices, such as setting and sticking to a posting goal, making your content easier to find using hashtags and tagging other accounts, and following others with similar profiles or who are relevant to your audience.
After inviting your real-world network to connect, you can also actively identify and vet influencers on Twitter and LinkedIn with whom you can connect. On LinkedIn, two great assets I use for finding peers are the People You May Know section and LinkedIn Groups. You can also look at your peers and who they’re engaging with and following. A major underutilized asset on Twitter is the list function, which helps you to organize and filter people and organizations into separate streams. Not only can you create your own private or public lists, but you can also follow others’. Similar to your content, make sure your lists focus on your expertise and point of view. Once you have lists of relevant publications, reporters and industry thought leaders set up, following and engaging in relevant conversations will become much quicker and easier.
Use Your Judgement
The power of having an authentic online presence — namely, the ability to reach a broad audience quickly and directly — shouldn’t be taken lightly. You shouldn’t be afraid to engage, but there is always a place for caution and good judgment. Always remember that your digital presence is an extension of you as a tech leader. Assume that who you follow, what you share and the content and people or organizations that you engage with on social platforms is public (even if it’s set to private). You should directly engage with a speaker following a presentation or comment on a tech article shared by someone you admire. What you shouldn’t do is share anything that makes you uncomfortable, because others will likely feel the same.
It’s also important to be mindful of timing and what else is going on in the world. During an emergency or in the wake of terrible news, an otherwise innocuous business post can come off as tone deaf or offensive. Even during normal circumstances, an appropriate message shared at the wrong time can have an adverse impact.
Always use your judgment and when in doubt, I recommend keeping it to yourself.
I’ve found that the best time to build your network and online presence is before you really need it. Mastering your digital presence can be valuable for job seekers, tech entrepreneurs and corporate executives alike, but it takes time. Don’t wait until you’re being considered for the next step in your career or you need to course correct a reputation issue to establish your presence. Start laying the groundwork now. Beyond the network and knowledge mastery online thought leadership gives you, it can also provide you with an audience and reach, the ability to help shape your organization’s reputation, and the opportunity to build trust and new business from afar — all valuable in the modern workplace.
IBM’s Oliver Blodgett, World Surf League co-owner Paul Speaker, Axispoint founder Scott Powell join investment and management team.
Props, the first holistic marketing technology platform for authentic content creators and marketers, launched today while announcing its leadership team, investors, and advisors.
Coinciding with the launch is the completion of $5.5 million in investment capital, according to president and CEO Joseph Perello. Investors include Paul Speaker, the co-owner and former CEO of the World Surf League; Hari Ravichandran, founder of the technology conglomerate Endurance and now the CEO and Founder of Jump Ventures, a scalability infusion firm that invests to drive exponential growth; and Axispoint, a technology development firm specializing in content and blockchain applications.
Props is the only integrated technology platform that merges original, meaningful content with leading-edge AI. Leveraging IBM Watson, brands align with relevant, independent content creators to publish, share, boost, promote, measure and optimize authentic content. Stories are seamlessly distributed to both creators’ and brands’ native media channels, shared and boosted on their social media feeds, and promoted through digital ad networks and search.
Props is definitively not an “influencer” platform. It is designed to support and extend the reach and prominence of real content creators who meet three important criteria: 1) they are professional storytellers (writers, photographers, filmmakers, and podcasters) with a track record of making compelling content; 2) they are subject-matter experts who are dedicated to their field of passion; and 3) they have naturally enrolled a set of devoted followers who trust their expertise.
Props is led by Joseph Perello, formerly the first CMO of the City of New York, appointed by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg. Joe was VP of Business Development for the New York Yankees, a principal in David Bowie’s internet venture, UltraStar, and the co-founder of a NYC-based digital agency.
“Central to Props is respect,” explains Perello. “Respect for the relationship between creators and their followers. Respect for brands, who seek to become what people are passionate about, instead of interrupting their passions. And respect for the integrity of the content – that it was made from a place of authenticity – not contrived, forced or manipulated.”
Head of Product at Props is Mary Aldon. An artist and one of the first team members at Props, Mary is an advocate for creating authentic connections between brands and professional creators. Previously, Mary led enterprise-wide marketing technology implementations at Interbrand and Siegel + Gale.
Joining Perello and Aldon on the Props management team are:
Oliver Blodgett, Head of Artificial Intelligence: Blodgett was previously an executive with IBM Watson. After spending the last five years working to commercialize IBM’s innovative and leading-edge artificial intelligence platform, he joined Props, both as an investor and as the company’s technology and AI leader. Oliver will oversee the implementation of AI and other technologies into the Props platform, and help brands and creators leverage the deep insights into content performance uncovered by Props and Watson.
Scott Powell, Head of Development: Scott is the founder of Axispoint, a custom development firm specializing in building software and blockchain applications in the content, media and music industries. As a strategic investor and part of the management team, Scott leads the Props development organization. Previously, Scott and Axispoint created the software that powers the rights and royalty management systems for EMI and Warner Music. Axispoint creates custom software applications for the NFL, New York Times, Vice Media and other media enterprises.
Props announced its first advisory board as well:
Rachel Lightfoot Melby is an 8-year veteran of Google and YouTube and also an investor in Props. She is the founder and chief brand builder of Catchfoot and Run.
Lee Sosin was SVP of Hearst Digital Media, VP of Time Inc. Studios, VP of Strategic Solutions for Yahoo, and a co-founder of America’s Channel. He is a consultant and advisor on brand, marketing and content strategies.
Patrick Hanlon is the author of the content marketing playbook, “Primal Branding,” and also an investor in Props. He is an award-winning creative director and the founder of Thinktopia.
Lark-Marie Anton was deputy press secretary for Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, chief communications officer for Endurance International and SVP at Hertz and Loews Hotels. She is currently the chief communications officer for Intrusta.
Sara Arnell was an editor at Vanity Fair, as well as co-founder and CEO of the Arnell Group. She is the founder of KARMiC and a professor at Parsons School of Design.
David Sussman was general counsel and chief operating officer of the New York Yankees, general counsel of MTV Networks, chief legal officer of NBC Universal’s Distribution Group and is now special counsel at Jenner and Block, LLP.
Early Props investors include former Audible.com CTO Guy Story, Better Mortgage CEO Vishal Garg, and his 1/0 Capital fund, and Props co-founder and former R/GA executive creative director Pat Stern.
Read the Adweek story about Props here.
NCR Acquires StopLift, Gains Powerful Anti-Theft Solution for Self-Checkout
ATLANTA and Cambridge, Mass. – November 6, 2018 – NCR Corporation (NYSE: NCR) today announced that it has acquired StopLift Checkout Vision Systems, a leader in intelligent computer vision systems, to combat theft in the retail business. Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed.
This transaction reinforces NCR’s strategic focus on self-checkout solutions that provide the best possible shopper experience and return on the investment for retailers. NCR will integrate StopLift’s Artificial Intelligence capabilities that detect unusual and possibly fraudulent behavior into its retail store transformation solutions. StopLift’s loss prevention management features will help NCR address retailers’ concerns over shrink. NCR is the global leader in self-checkout technology with more than 250,000 installations worldwide.
“This acquisition will help NCR accelerate growth in our market-leading self-checkout and store transformation solutions,” said NCR President and Chief Executive Officer, Michael D. Hayford. “In addition to creating new value for our retail customers around the world, StopLift’s fraud detection technology will be a key enabler of our frictionless commerce product strategy.”
Headquartered in Cambridge, Mass., StopLift has developed Artificial Intelligence capabilities that visually determine what occurs during each transaction to distinguish between legitimate and fraudulent behavior at the checkout. Most notably, StopLift’s technology detects scan-avoidance and flags unscanned, unpaid merchandise at the checkout. Examples include passing items around the scanner, leaving unscanned items in the shopping cart, and covering up the barcode while scanning.
“We have been working with NCR since 2016 to integrate our patented technology with SmartAssist, which successfully detects shrink at the checkout counter with NCR’s self-checkout solutions,” explained Malay Kundu, founder and CEO of StopLift. “As retailers are looking to embrace frictionless checkout, our combined technologies will bring the advantages of loss prevention management to NCR’s global customer base in this critical time of retail transformation.”
The two companies anticipate a smooth transition for customers, channel partners and employees.
About NCR Corporation
NCR Corporation (NYSE: NCR) is a leader in banking and commerce solutions, powering incredible experiences that make life easier. With its software, hardware, and portfolio of services, NCR enables 760 million transactions daily across financial, retail, hospitality, travel, telecom and technology industries. NCR is headquartered in Atlanta, Ga., with 34,000 employees and does business in 180 countries. NCR is a trademark of NCR Corporation in the United States and other countries.
StopLift Checkout Vision Systems markets its patented ScanItAll technology designed to detect and deter shoplifting and employee theft in retail businesses across the globe. It uses Artificial Intelligence to analyze and compare security video and POS data to identify unscanned items at retail and supermarket checkouts. To date, it has confirmed more than 3.1 million scan avoidance incidents at manned and self-checkouts around the globe. StopLift is headquartered in Cambridge, Massachusetts and has an office in Kolkata, India.
News Media Contact:
NCR Public Relations
Sherry Alpert Corporate Communications, LLC for StopLift
Cautionary Statement Regarding Forward-Looking Statements
Statements in this announcement regarding the transaction, the benefits of the transaction, general business outlook and any other statements about the future expectations, beliefs, goals, plans or prospects of the board or management of NCR constitute forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Any statements that are not statements of historical fact (including statements containing the words “expects,” “intends,” “anticipates,” “estimates,” “predicts,” “believes,” “should,” “potential,” “may,” “forecast,” “objective,” “plan,” or “targets” and other similar expressions) are intended to identify forward-looking statements. There are a number of factors that could cause actual results or events to differ materially from those indicated by such forward-looking statements, including: the potential impact of the transaction on relationships, including with employees, suppliers and customers of NCR and StopLift; the ability to achieve the value creation contemplated by the transaction; and the other factors and financial, operational and legal risks or uncertainties described in the NCR’s public filings with the SEC. NCR disclaims any intention or obligation to update or revise any forward-looking statements as a result of developments occurring after the date of this document except as required by law.
Like any tech industry entrepreneur, I love technology and have since I was just 10 years old. Technology has allowed us to do absolutely incredible things on a global scale and has improved our way of life exponentially on a day-to-day level. Yet with all the benefits a more technology-rich and interconnected life brings, it also exposes us to risk as bad actors increasingly seek to take advantage of that interconnectivity. Every day, consumers benefitting from the increasingly digital world are also the ones who most often fall victim.
In the U.S. alone, 143 million consumers — more than half the adult population that is active online — were victims of cybercrime last year, according to the 2017 Norton Cyber Security Insights Report. U.S. consumers’ losses totaled $19.4 billion, and, on average, each victim lost nearly 20 hours dealing with the fallout.
These alarming stats make one thing clear: Cybersecurity literacy and readiness are lacking when they need to be growing. Unlike big companies with IT departments and resources dedicated to protecting cybersecurity, many consumers aren’t tech savvy and have little understanding of the complex world of cyberattacks, let alone what to do to combat them. To meet and withstand today’s online threats, consumers don’t just need better cybersecurity technology — they need realistic solutions. They need solutions that account for the ways they use their technology — on their computers, their phones and in the interconnected devices all around them. They need solutions that they understand and feel comfortable using. They need solutions that work.
Technology leaders, those of us with the skills and capacity to do something, need to pay more attention to people and how they use technology to design solutions that better confront the human element of cybersecurity. We also need to improve awareness of digital security threats by making technology and cybersecurity literacy easier and more accessible for everyone.
Considering The Human Element
Fraud and cybercrime are extremely common and can take on a wide variety of forms, from obvious scams to sophisticated and highly personalized attacks. Often, the subtle cause behind a security breach is human error (e.g., using a weak password, clicking a suspicious link, failing to download security updates, etc.).
As consumers become more and more comfortable making purchases, paying bills and sharing sensitive personal information online through digital interactions with their health care providers, financial services institutions and government entities, human factors can become serious vulnerabilities. Take passwords, for example. While we know that complex, frequently changed passwords are more secure, the distinctly human tendency to prioritize efficiency and convenience leads many to take shortcuts like using weak passwords because they are easy to remember or applying the same passwords to everything.
Cyberattackers rely heavily on user interaction and normal human behaviors like complacency and a desire for efficiency and convenience. Consumers need solutions that help make it easy for them to be more secure, ones that don’t ignore but rather embrace these human tendencies because security shouldn’t be a burden — it should be built in.
Developing Realistic Solutions
We can’t change human nature, but we can change technology to cut down on the shockingly high number of consumers who fall victim to an attack. All too often, people assume that if they’re using their phones, their desktops at work, the wearable devices on their wrists or their voice-enabled devices on their kitchen countertops that they’re safe. They don’t think twice. We need to design solutions that 1) educate consumers about the threats that exist as they interact with this technology, 2) empower them with the tools they need and 3) make it easy for them to use those tools.
I hate to use a cliché, but knowledge actually is power when it comes to staying safe in our interconnected world. If consumers know about potential threats to unsecured or outdated internet of things devices, understand how malware or ransomware can infiltrate a computer through an unwitting click of a link and have insight into password hacks, they’ll naturally be more equipped to avoid them. Software developers have an opportunity to build education into and around their technology as an extra line of defense.
When it comes to the technology itself, we often jump straight into complex software development without stopping to think about the natural tendencies of the consumers using that tech. Security doesn’t need to be overwhelming and scary. As technology leaders, we have a responsibility to make it much easier for consumers to both understand cybersecurity threats and take steps to make the digital world safer for themselves and their families. That means committing to rethinking and simplifying product design to account for human factors, with more mobile, user-friendly designs, better interfaces and more engaging, accessible content.
The best way for consumers to confront cybersecurity threats and prevent the damage associated with a security breach is to be prepared with the proper knowledge and smart tools.
Click to read the Forbes article.
From The Ground Up, To The Corner Office And Back Again: Why I left The C-Suite For A New Startup
Post written by Hari Ravichandran
You hear a lot about the evolution from tech entrepreneur to CEO but less about the journey the other way around. My career in tech began in 1997 when I started a small web consulting business that I would spend the next two decades building into Endurance International Group, a publicly traded company with more than 3,500 employees globally. With that experience behind me, I’ve switched gears and am back to my entrepreneurial roots, building a new digital security company from the ground up.
Although I have always considered myself an entrepreneur, this unique opportunity to do it all again has given me a new perspective on entrepreneurship and yielded some insights that are causing me to think very differently this time around. Below are some of the biggest takeaways from my journey from entrepreneur to CEO and three things I’m focusing on now that I’m back in the startup world.
1. Staying Open To Change
Ever since I can remember, I’ve loved solving problems and assembling things. Spending the last 21 years building a business, taking it public and growing to over $1 billion in revenue was an endeavor I was passionate about, but it turns out being the CEO of a publicly traded company wasn’t what truly motivated me. About two-and-a-half years into what theoretically ought to have been the pinnacle of my career, I realized, a little to my surprise and chagrin, that it just wasn’t the right job for me. I missed the nitty-gritty work of creating things, of being close to consumers’ needs and developing disruptive new software to meet them.
It took time, but in the end, I realized that the things I was best at and most excited about were happening outside the boardroom.
It’s important to know yourself and keep an open mind. Careers don’t need to be (and often aren’t) linear, but fixating on where we want to get — to a certain title or valuation or stock price — becomes self-limiting and makes it easy to lose sight of what got you started in the first place. Challenge yourself to stay open to opportunity and different ways of thinking. It will only expand your horizons.
2. Keeping Perspective
When you’re first starting a business and you’re scraping by, you’re moving fast and don’t yet have a lot to lose, so it’s much easier to be brave. Sometimes you’re brave out of necessity. You take big risks because, in the moment, they’re your only option. In 1997, when I started my first business with my savings as seed money and a team of one, every day felt like a fight for survival. It wasn’t even about fear — just making the best choices I could and living to fight another day.
There is a certain thrill in the urgency of starting something new, but over the course of my career, I’ve learned that bravery isn’t just about the willingness to embrace risk. Sometimes bravery is having the patience and restraint to say no, to take a step back and not go after every opportunity. When you are just starting out, the horizon seems much smaller and your instinct is to move as fast as possible. This time around, I understand the value of taking a longer view and having the patience to build things the right way from the beginning.
3. Getting Culture Right
It’s no secret that startups tend to undervalue culture. Today we can point to myriad examples of promising tech startups with huge valuations crippled by underlying cultural issues. In some of the worst cases, leaders actively fostered climates and behaviors that led to their undoing, but it doesn’t take malintent to create serious problems. For many entrepreneurs, culture is simply an afterthought, a “nice to have” that takes a back seat to strategy, profitability and growth. While this approach may work well enough in the short term, it creates significant barriers to scale down the road.
To build a business with real, sustainable value and bring it to scale, you have to get the culture right from the onset. Culture undergirds everything businesses need to be successful: their values, codes of conduct, modes of operation and how people interact with each other, solve problems and work together every day. And the absence of a bad culture does not confer the value of a good one.
For me, “getting culture right” means creating an environment that is built on and engenders mutual respect and trust, integration, inclusivity and civility. Culture starts with people. Hiring the right ones is critical, but it can be tricky in tech. In fast-growing startups, it is easy to get caught up in hiring for specific “hard” skills (e.g., expertise in systems engineering, computer modeling, data science). Don’t fall into that trap. Communication styles, interpersonal skills, teamwork and diversity — picking people you can work side by side with and whom you can empower — are hugely important for building the right culture and need to be part of your decision making from the beginning. Now more than ever, I believe that building and maintaining a strong culture from the start lays the foundation for scale.
Remember, building something new is not the same thing as starting from scratch. Your past experiences — the lessons, successes, failures, mistakes and things that turned out only OK — are all valuable resources. Bring them with you. Everything you’ve learned along the way will serve you well and bring value to any new venture.
Click here to view PDF of article: Forbes Tech Council
SiteLock Announces Acquisition by ABRY Partners
Investment from prominent private equity firm positions SiteLock to accelerate company growth and product innovation
SCOTTSDALE, ARIZONA — April 12, 2018 – SiteLock, a global leader in website security solutions, today announced its acquisition by ABRY Partners (“ABRY”), a leading private equity firm.
Founded in 2008, SiteLock’s mission is to protect organizations from ever evolving cyber security threats. SiteLock is the leading provider of cloud-based, comprehensive website security solutions, and its innovative and award-winning products protect more than 12 million websites globally. In 2017, SiteLock was named by Deloitte as the fastest growing software company in Arizona for the third consecutive year, and the fastest growing company in Arizona overall.
“We are excited to partner with SiteLock to support their continued innovation of new products and solutions both organically and inorganically,” said Brian St. Jean, Partner at ABRY Partners. “As threats become more complex and frequent, organizations need a comprehensive and reliable solution to protect their online presence. We believe SiteLock is well positioned to continue to be the go-to partner for website security needs.”
“The investment from ABRY Partners is a testament to our culture of innovation and dedication to building a reliable platform to protect organizations across the globe,” said SiteLock Chief Executive Officer Neill Feather. “Cyber security attacks continue to increase at an unprecedented pace. During the fourth quarter of 2017 the average website experienced more than 44 attacks per day, and there was a 90 percent rise in the number of businesses targeted by ransomware for a total $5 billion financial impact. We are excited to work with the team at ABRY to continue to develop new products and solutions to support and protect our customers.”
“We’re grateful to all our employees and to Unitedweb for their investment in our growth,” continued Feather. “Together with the Unitedweb team we have pioneered the website security industry and made solutions and protection accessible to businesses of all sizes and types.”
“We’re proud to have supported SiteLock for more than 10 years as it has grown to become the leading provider of website security solutions,” said Unitedweb Chief Executive Officer Tomas Gorny. “We’re excited to see what’s next for their growing team and what they accomplish in partnership with ABRY Partners.”
SiteLock, the Global Leader in business website security solutions, is the only web security solution to offer complete, cloud-based website protection. Its 360-degree monitoring finds and fixes threats, prevents future attacks, accelerates website performance and meets PCI compliance standards for businesses of all sizes. Founded in 2008, the company has an industry leading threat database and protects over 12 million websites worldwide. For more information, please visit sitelock.com.
About ABRY Partners
ABRY is one of the most experienced media, communications, and business and information services sector focused private equity investment firms in North America. Since their founding in 1989, they have completed over $62 billion of leveraged transactions (including many roll-up investment strategies) and other private equity, mezzanine or preferred equity investments. Currently, they manage over $5.0 billion of capital in their active funds.
Unitedweb was founded in 2008. Unitedweb owns diversified group of technology companies. It primary focuses on early stage investments.