Hotmail co-founder to lead Proximex
SUNNYVALE, Calif.Ã¢â‚¬â€Jack Smith has a pretty good resume. He and his partner sold Hotmail to Microsoft for $400 million, sure. But heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s also worked with Apple, designed integrated circuits, and invented the first Web server accelerator card.
Now heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s set his sights on the physical security industry as chief executive officer of Proximex, a relatively recent entrant in the PSIM (search Ã¢â‚¬Å“PSIMÃ¢â‚¬Â at www.securitysystemsnews.com) category, having first released its software offering, Surveillint, in 2006.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“If youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢d asked me three or four years ago what IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢d be doing now, I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t think I would have guessed this, to be honest,Ã¢â‚¬Â Smith said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“The physical security industry wasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t something IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢d paid a lot of attention to. But whatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s characterized my career up to this point is that everything IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve done so far has been something IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve never done before. So now IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m on to physical security, particularly the convergence of physical security and IT ... IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m excited. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s similar to what IT was like 10-to-15 years ago.Ã¢â‚¬Â
In those days, Smith was busy inventing and commercializing the concept of Web-based email, and who now doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t have some form of Web-based email address? Do you think Hotmail didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t have security problems? Ã¢â‚¬Å“Every single day at Hotmail,Ã¢â‚¬Â Smith said, Ã¢â‚¬Å“real people were trying to bring down the site.Ã¢â‚¬Â Where IT and physical security converge, philosophically, is in the realm of exceptions. Ã¢â‚¬Å“In both situations,Ã¢â‚¬Â Smith reasoned, Ã¢â‚¬Å“exceptions are created by humans, whether itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a human hacking or jumping a fence. In both cases, as well, a machine should be involved in sorting out and characterizing the exception, and even correlating the exception with other exceptions to which it may be related.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Does your spam filter ask for your assistance every time a piece of spam comes along? Of course not. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s automated to deal with those exceptions. Proximex, said Smith, isnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t quite the same level of automation, but presents exceptions in such a way as to make decisions for end users relatively easy, incorporating information from all of the disparate pieces of their security systems. He thinks Proximex can relieve a number of Ã¢â‚¬Å“pain pointsÃ¢â‚¬Â for end users.
Smith said Proximex began with the airport and transportation vertical because their pain is realÃ¢â‚¬â€people actually are out to get themÃ¢â‚¬â€and if Proximex can succeed in such an environment, it can likely help people in other arenas as well. While he said the security channel structure is still one heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s getting used to, Ã¢â‚¬Å“we build relationships with integrators; we train them and help them understand the product, and teach them the differentiators and encourage them to bid us in a project. And thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s been reasonably easy in many cases. A lot of integrators really like us, having worked with some of the competing players.Ã¢â‚¬Â