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Four Questions with John Haggard

December 2, 2015

Our CEO John Haggard talks a bit about enterprise security, his decision to join Nymi, and his hobbies outside of work. Read below to learn more about John.

1) Why did you decide to join Nymi? What went into making this decision?

Talent, platform and trust.

Nymi is an incredibly talented company. I saw on paper a highly educated, well balanced, diverse team deep in science, experience, and maturity. The reality is better than I expected, the experienced and ‘not-as experienced’ trust each other which is enormously powerful; that you can’t see on paper.

Likewise, the Nymi platform is more than meets the eye. The attention-grabber is HeartID; ECG based authentication is a new biometric modality which has really interesting properties. But I was really drawn to the continuous authentication properties of the platform over Bluetooth Low Energy. The NFC side of the Nymi platform is also quite interesting; this gives a solid platform for unifying payment and physical access in a wearable. Bottom line, Nymi has solved some tough problems and I knew we could turbo charge that work.

For me, the deciding factor was trusting founder Karl Martin. My wife, Michelle, and I spent time with Karl early on in the process, and in comparing notes, we had the same three words to describe Karl: smart, genuine, and honest. It was a solid green light from there.

2) Who is John Haggard outside of Nymi? What do you like to do outside of work?

Outside of Nymi, hopefully I’m outside! I’m a person who deeply connects with nature, whether it be on a motorcycle, hiking, skiing, or simply sitting by, or in, a clear running river. My passion is to capture those moments through photography.

My wife Michelle and I live in a quiet neighbourhood south of Seattle, overlooking the Puget Sound, Vashon Island, and the Olympic Mountains. Our three children are grown up, with two local in Seattle and another with our grandkids in Albania, literally on a mission. Together we love music, travel, outdoors, and enjoy simply being.  

3) You’ve run several companies before, in different areas and at different stages. What are some of the key learnings that you’ve taken away, or important lessons that stand out?

What stands out for me are two things, both relationship related. First, the value of mentorship and second, open contribution within the community. Time and again, both have paid huge dividends. On the mentorship level, I pay close attention, looking for sharp people who haven’t had the experience and then I jump start them by pointing them in right direction. Sometimes it is just a tip, sometimes it is a full court press to create an expert who can take it further.

Helping partners, customers, and even competitors is good business. There are times to hold cards close to the vest to be sure, but in reality that is rare. Taking time to meaningfully help by openly contributing when there is no obvious benefit builds trust. Trust leads to learning more than you would otherwise. In both cases, mentorship and open contribution result in lasting relationships and nothing can be more important in business as business is the ultimate long game.

4) In broad strokes, where do you see authentication (or the authentication market) going in the next 24 months?

(PHOTO: Authentication devices that John has used and collected over the years)

Coming together in 2015 have been three events that are, in my opinion, game changers for the next 20 years. First the FIDO alliance established a foundation with the U2F protocol, but then acknowledged the next big step: wireless. Baking into emerging standards both NFC and BLE transports opens the door for wearable security devices. Second, the best kept secret is Token ID Binding which late in 2014 Microsoft threw their support behind Google to harden internet protocols, and finally FIDO pre-announcing the unification of the various FIDO standards in FIDO 2.0.

Taken together, what is emerging are standards for users carrying extremely secure wireless devices that are powerful enough to authenticate users locally while also protecting network traffic. Hardware backing the proposed IETF Token ID Binding protocol is entering holy grail territory.

It is not just about who you are, but what happens afterwards.


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