Every successful startup CEO has a story like this: One day the company has grown so big the CEO no longer recognises all the people that work for her or him.
But Todd McKinnon, cofounder and CEO of security software maker Okta, has a funny spin on that classic tale: The company had trouble recognising him and almost wouldn’t let him enter his own annual company meeting.
Okta, founded in 2008, has ballooned to 450 employees, 200 of them in sales. Late last month, Okta had its annual corporate kick-off, flying in people from all over the globe to attend.
“We had the entire company in the room,” McKinnon says. “I was very proud of myself because, for the first time ever, we were so big we had to have security at our conference. We had security guards manning the exits, everyone had to have a badge and they were checking the badges when you went into the room.”
“I was giving the keynote speech. But the people running the event didn’t print me a badge, because they thought, everyone knows Todd. So when I went to go in the room, the security guards wouldn’t let me in,” he said.
McKinnon told them, “You don’t know who I am. That’s cool. Where do I get my badge?”
He got in line for a badge, but he wasn’t registered. The hired-hands (who didn’t work for Okta) told him, “We don’t have a badge for you.”
“Finally, the person running the event had to come rescue me and convince the security guards that I was legitimate so I could go on and give my speech. That shows some kind of maturity in the company, I think, when you can’t get into your own kick-off,” he laughs.
Once he was allowed in, he took this picture to document that he was there.
Okta, founded in 2008, offers a security service that helps companies keep track of employee passwords and accounts to all the cloud services the enterprise uses. It has over 2,000 customers tracking 4 million users and has been growing like mad.
When the company raised $US75 million last summer at about a $US600 million valuation (bringing its total VC investment to $US155 million total), it had about 1,200 customers.
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