a16z Podcast

a16z Podcast: The Hard Things about Security

Sonal Chokshi, Stina Ehrensvärd, and Martin Casado

Posted June 6, 2018

Here’s the hard thing about security: the more authentication factors you have, the more secure things are… but in practice, people won’t use too many factors, because they want ease of use. There’s clearly a tension between security and usability, not to mention between security and privacy (good security doesn’t always come with great privacy — what if you’re a journalist or dissenter under a repressive regime??). And finally, there’s a tension between the convenience and inconvenience of hardware given the expected convenience (but also dangerous connectivity) of software and mobile everywhere.

So how to resolve all this? CEO and founder Stina Ehrensvärd found the answer to these paradoxes with her company Yubico, makers of the “ubi”quitous (ahem, no pun intended!) hardware authentication security key used by the top internet companies. They’re also the pioneering contributor to the FIDO open authentication standards — arguably as important as what the SSL protocol did back then between web servers and browsers, only now we’re in a world where payments talk to browsers, and machines talk to machines.

But how does open source fit into all this? How does one build trust as a newcomer? And how does one go from founder passion and founder-market fit to product-market fit, especially while straddling two cultures of innovation? Ehrensvärd shares hard-earned lessons learned on going from big vision to practical reality, from managing communication to design and more in this founder/maker story episode of the a16z Podcast (in conversation with general partner Martin Casado and Sonal Chokshi). It’s not just luck, it’s making your own luck… especially when it comes to seizing opportunities and help in unexpected ways and places.