When we make seed stage investments at Accel, our guiding light is something we call the “prepared-mind.” Simply put, we’re thesis based. When we find an industry ripe for innovation, we meticulously research it, connect with key thought leaders, talk to entrepreneurs in and outside of our portfolio to establish our point of view on problems that need solving.
But a prepared mind only becomes a company when we intersect the right entrepreneur. Sometimes stars align and we meet an entrepreneur who is focused on fixing the same issues at the same time. This was the case when we met Alex Bovee.
Identity governance has become increasingly dynamic and complex with the explosion of SaaS apps and cloud infrastructure. Access request workflow varies by user and SaaS/IaaS application, which has created a challenge for IT and security teams who are tasked with managing the identities and permissions across all these tools. Existing solutions are clunky and don’t conform to the zero-trust principles of least privilege, leading to permission sprawl across the organization (and an entry point for cyber attacks). When we met Alex, our visions aligned: there’s an opportunity to build an automated access orchestration platform that enables security teams to manage user lifecycle across cloud resources and employees to access their tools in the most productive fashion.
We invited Alex to join Accel as an Entrepreneur-in-Residence (EIR) last August. For over 20 years, Accel has facilitated this program, which entails working side by side with entrepreneur-to-be for a few months to collaborate, share access to our research and insights from our partners and broader Accel network. As a result, we’ve been able to support the founders of Cloudera, Heptio and many others in the process of building their company from the very start. Due to COVID-19, Alex has the distinction of being our first “virtual” EIR!
Many of our successful founders have something in common: a clear understanding of the problem they’re going after because it’s an issue they’ve experienced first-hand. Alex fits that bill. Alex had been living and breathing the complexity of identity governance. As a former role leading enterprise mobile security product development at Lookout, and a then-current job at Okta as Senior Director Product Management for Zero Trust and Security, he was quite qualified to build the fix.
When we first brought Alex on as an EIR, the details of what would soon become ConductorOne hadn’t come together yet, but he knew one thing for certain: Paul Querna, former Okta colleague, would eventually be his co-founder. I met Paul in his prior start-ups, and it was immediately clear to me that when it comes to building a cloud identity solution, they’d be a dream-team. Alex and Paul first met when Okta acquired ScaleFT, a Zero Trust access management platform which Paul co-founded. Paul also led technology and strategy teams at Rackspace and Cloudkick.
Like many great founding teams, Alex and Paul complement each other perfectly, with uniquely similar instincts. Together, they’ve been able to build a user-friendly platform that makes granting access and managing permissions fast, secure, and compliant.
We’re excited to share our investment in ConductorOne’s seed round. Welcome to the Accel Family, Alex, Paul and ConductorOne team!
– Ping Li, Accel