Trend Micro's Eva Chen: Hackers Keep Our Industry Forever Young
I caught up with Eva Chen, CEO of Trend Micro Tuesday morning just before her two appearances at the RSA security conference. She was in great form, enjoying a rare San Francisco heat wave, while we all melted into puddles.
Here are some notes from our conversation:
- I was on the plane recently and watching the movie Benjamin Buttons, which shows a man becoming younger over time. And this led me to think about the security industry and why it hasn't consolidated like other industries. Usually, an industry will go through a consolidation where companies are acquired or go out of business, and the industry matures over time then disappears. I've been in this industry for 20 years and it still hasn't consolidated. It seems to stay forever young. And it's because we are constantly challenged by young hackers, there are always new exploits and security threats to deal with, and that leads to new startups, it leads to innovation, and that's what keeps our industry young.
- People often say that security will be consolidated by the platform, but that hasn't happened because platforms change slowly. Security changes very quickly.
- Focus is really important at Trend Micro. We focus on security and that's what keeps us on our toes. For example, a competitor such as Symantec is also in data storage. But data storage doesn't change much, it pretty much stays the same, and that affects management. At Trend Micro we focus on security, an area of constant change. That keeps us fresh.
- At Trend Micro we have had to reorganize the company to deal with the new security challenges. We have our various groups such as anti-virus, spam, malware. We manage by objective, so we would give each group their objectives, and each group would build large databases to manage their security risk information to meet their objectives. We did away with that system, now each group shares all their information about vulnerabilities, and we give collective objectives to all three groups, which leads to a much better result.
- Some of the cultural differences are interesting. US teams are very "star" based, there is a lot of emphasis on individual performance. Asian teams are much more collaborative. For example, in the US, commissions are paid to individuals based on their performance. But in Japan commissions are team based. In the US the attitude is 'why should I be punished by someone else's poor performance?' In Japan people don't like to stand out in that way. Their attitude is that they don't want to make more money than their team colleagues, because then they would hate them. The Harvard Business school chose Trend Micro in a case study of management culture in a global company.
- Cloud computing mirrors the challenges we face globally. A recession in one country affects many other countries. If you dig a well in one spot, you affect the water supply of people far away. The same is true in cloud computing. If you manage your bandwidth well, you can free up bandwidth for a partner supplier in Malaysia or China -- everyone benefits. In cloud computing you are a community of services and connections, everyone can be affected by bad or good behavior.
- I get a lot of my best ideas in planes because I spend a lot of time traveling. I'm always in the 'clouds.'
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