Ed Macnair: CEO, CensorNet

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Ed Macnair, CEO of CensorNet, brings 30 years of sales and business development expertise in the technology and IT security. He has a proven entrepreneurial track record of successfully developing technology companies and leads the company’s sales, marketing and product strategy.

Ed joined CensorNet to accelerate the company’s product development efforts and aggressively grow the web security revenues through its global channel partners. He was previously founder and CEO of SaaSID, a UK based single sign-on and application security vendor, which was acquired by Intermedia Inc. in September 2013. Before Intermedia and SaaSID Macnair was CEO of Marshal, a global web and email security company which merged with US web security provider 8e6 Technologies to form M86 Security. Macnair has also held senior management positions with MessageLabs, Symantec, IBM and Xerox.

How did you get into the industry?

My first exposure to software was in the mid 1990’s when I was at IBM. Prior to IBM I was in the hardware business in a sales and sales management role at Xerox but soon realized that software and services was where my interests lie as I truly thought, and still do, that software and services are the future. Shortly after, I met with a security company, MessageLabs and became head of sales. Immediately, I was drawn into the challenges of the software security industry and felt a responsibility to be a part of leading and creating a solution to this problem. I was intrigued by the dynamic nature of the business – new cyber threats and trends emerging daily. The need to always stay ahead of the “bad guys,” certainly captivated me in and I felt obligated to continue to shield companies from cyber threats. Staying ahead of the bad guys is exciting, regular IT is not as exciting.

Any emerging industry trends?

Today, IT security has a new directive, to liberate and enable users to do their jobs, safe in the knowledge that they’re protected but not prohibited. For large organizations, the answer lies in the ability to sensibly control the use of cloud applications, apply risk mitigation through policy and help employees avoid circumventing necessary business controls to get the job done. If we’re to learn anything from the dynamic popularity of the app world, it is that innovation and forward motion inspires, captures imagination and makes all things possible. That requires a departure from conventional thinking for the security market and it’s also a long overdue kick in the pants for those that seek to prohibit progress.

The security industry has an obligation to develop sophisticated tools greater than those that seek to break down its walls. We need to be unapologetic in our quest to challenge and progress what the role and function of security represents in the real world. 

Any industry opportunities or challenges?

Cyber crime has become a huge issue for businesses worldwide. It was estimated to cost organizations between $400- $500 billion in 2015 and is forecast to almost double in 2016. The challenge is just as applicable to small business as it is to large enterprises. CensorNet has developed a security platform that enables small to medium size organizations to gain complete cyber protection 

Inspiration for CensorNet, and your vision for it?

Application security is one that fascinates me and the idea to develop software and services was born out of a conversation with a senior sales executive at Salesforce. We had a discussion on how to audit activity on cloud apps like SalesForce.  At that point, I knew this was going to be a prevalent issue as we move into the cloud world and no one had solved the problem yet. I hired a couple of developers to do a proof of concept. I met with chief security officers at major banks asked them about their challenges and more than half said they knew they needed to move security to the cloud but didn’t know how. This was the validation I needed to make an investment in security software start-up SaaSID, that created the world’s first cloud security app. SaaSID, a UK based single sign-on and application security vendor, was acquired by Intermedia Inc., in September 2013.

What's next for CensorNet in the near future?

We are increasingly working with Managed Service Providers (MSPs) to enable them to deliver managed cloud security services to their customers. We expect to see that trend to continue and grow through 2017.

Your key initiatives for the success of CensorNet?

For any business – it’s all about the people. I invest in very smart people and my philosophy has always been invest in people first, customers second and profitability third. This has certainly worked at CensorNet as we have a 90% renewal rate.

Your most difficult moment at the CensorNet? (and what did you learn?)

Our biggest challenge is scaling the organization across multiple geographies and time zone -- conducting business on the phone and over email, rather than in-person. Additionally, sharing a common goal across disparate offices can be difficult. I pride myself on spending time in each office and making my physical presence known to every office. This is very important as we grow and expand and make acquisitions. I don’t view this as a long term solution, however this next phase of growth is critical and I need to ensure all employees feel part of that success.

Ideal experience for a customer/client?

The people element is the first piece. Our customer satisfaction rating is in high 90’s and we pride ourselves on giving the best support and customer service from the first point of engagement.

How do you motivate others?

It’s really important to hire the right people. I follow the rule to hire based on a person’s attitude and not just aptitude. You can always train someone to strengthen their skill set, but an attitude is very hard to change.

Career advice to those in your industry?

Look for a company that shares the same vision and values. Some of the most successful companies aren’t great places to work especially if their value system is different from yours. It’s key to work with a company that has a value system you can believe in.

Through my years being in executive positions and working through the ranks, I have learned that fostering a very open and honest culture – with transparency at the heart of that culture – is one of the most important components of the workplace. At CensorNet we share a lot of information with our team. We communicate constantly. At every stage of the company, the entire team is in the know.