This ex-HP exec sold his last two companies, and now he's at it again
In 2008, he was the CEO of MySQL, a database company that Sun Microsystems bought for $1 billion.In late 2014, Mickos was the CEO of Eucalyptus Systems, a cloud computing startup snapped up by HP, where he served as an executive in the HP Helion cloud unit.
"I was eager to take on a new, significant challenge," Mickos told Business Insider.Mickos says that it was his "belief in the good of the hackers" that really resonated with his decision to go to the tiny, venture-backed HackerOne, although he says that he had plenty of other offers from large technology companies.
The good of the hackers
Mickos likens software to a house: Lots of software has security systems, alarms, and other stuff to detect intruders. But it's also nice to have a "neighborhood watch," like the hackers on the HackerOne platform, to help you spot trouble before it even starts."Nobody ever builds the neighborhood watch," Mickos says.Mickos says he's not planning any sweeping changes to HackerOne, which takes an unconventional, crowdsourced approach to security.
Clients like Twitter, Slack, Adobe, and Yahoo sign up with HackerOne. Then, HackerOne advertises cash bounties for any hacker out there who finds a bug in these companies' systems, incentivizing them to report a security flaw or vulnerability rather than illegally exploit it.
Since its 2012 founding, HackerOne says that it's paid out around $5 million to 2,000 hackers, with over 14,000 security vulnerabilities found and (presumably) closed.With that early success, HackerOne founder and CEO Merijn Terheggen says he elected to stand down and find a new leader to help the company grow into a major force. Terheggen will stick around in a more operational role, HackerOne says.
Mickos, originally from Finland, earned a reputation in the tech world for the 2008 sale of MySQL - it meant that Sun valued the company at $1 billion, before the era of the Silicon Valley unicorn completely diminished the scale of that achievement.
(The sale of Eucalyptus to HP was likely for considerably less - some reports at the time placed the final price at around $100 million.)Something MySQL and Eucalyptus had in common was that they both turned open source software - software that's available for free for any developer in the world to download and improve to their liking - into big businesses by offering premium services on top of free products.
Not much has changed in his approach, Mickos says, except his feelings on dealing with a more "individualistic" millennial workforce."I used to be the young CEO, now I'm the old CEO," he jokes.
He thinks that experience will serve him well at HackerOne, giving him a lot of insight into how communities of programmers function and what drives hackers. So while HackerOne doesn't make open source software, it's a crucial perspective in helping customers and hackers alike understand the value of an open platform.HackerOne has raised $34 million in venture capital financing from firms like Benchmark Capital and New Enterprise Associates, but Mickos isn't so keen on focusing on valuations."The essence of the company is not in that number," Mickos says.
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