Kabir Barday | OneTrust
Kabir Barday, Founder and CEO
To protect and serve
With OneTrust, Kabir Barday is safeguarding privacy in an increasingly digital world.
hen he was a Boy Scout, Kabir Barday already knew what it meant to be a businessman, making $500 by selling pocketknives to other kids. But over time, he learned about a bigger job, one that better suited his ambitions: entrepreneur.
“I grew up in a place with businessmen: running franchises, restaurants and convenience stores,” the OneTrust CEO says today. “You can make a certain amount from that, and you know what you’re getting into. To me, being an entrepreneur is taking a bigger and bolder risk, with higher return, higher visibility and impact.”
It was in Barday’s blood to work hard and be independent. His father had worked as an engineer and software developer but had also opened a convenience store. That life of a businessman seemed natural to Barday as he was growing up, and as a young man, he explored bringing a pizza franchise to Georgia. But he decided his first job out of college should be in the corporate world.
In 2010, that desire took him to AirWatch, which focused on mobile device security and management. It was there that Barday became an entrepreneur.
Unintended consequences — and opportunities
At that time, the big trend in the IT environment was “bring your own device,” wherein employees used their personal smartphones, tablets and laptops to access company information and applications. Doing so brought risks that companies tried to mitigate through security measures and apps on those personal devices. Tensions between corporate security and personal privacy began to grow — and have since caught the attention of regulators around the world.
“Just by an employer knowing what apps you have on the phone, there’s an unintended privacy consequence,” Barday says. “There are apps for political parties, for people of certain sexual orientations, religions, races — the employer can know everything about you.”
Barday saw AirWatch’s clients struggle with finding the right balance, and, presented with a problem, he started to craft solutions.
He used his vacation days to attend privacy conferences around the world: in Silicon Valley, in Canada, in Belgium. He went on LinkedIn and searched for privacy leaders from all sorts of companies in each city he would be visiting, setting up meetings to learn more and get feedback on what he was working on. One chief privacy officer even offered him $15,000 to build a product.
From those efforts, OneTrust was born — in a small house Barday shared with roommates.
“The biggest room in the house was my room, and I knew I couldn’t afford office space, so that’s where I put people,” he remembers. “I turned the master bedroom into an office.”
Setting the tone
About three years later, OneTrust has outgrown that bedroom by leaps and bounds, with 750 employees in Atlanta, Bangalore, Melbourne, Munich and elsewhere. OneTrust’s more than 3,000 customers, including 100 of the Fortune 500, use the company’s dedicated privacy management technology platform to comply with privacy laws, including the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation.
Amid all this growth, Barday is focused on maintaining OneTrust’s corporate culture: being passionate about what the company does and working together. He wants every new hire to hear that message straight from him — and to call him at his personal number if needed.
“It’s hard for someone else in the company to relay that as specifically and passionately as the person who started the company,” he says.
He also teaches a course on note-taking, helping to elevate what could be a humdrum HR training exercise into a strategic imperative. The lesson isn’t so much about imparting a particular tactic but about capturing knowledge succinctly and making it available to more people, without them having to attend the same meeting.
If we don’t have these types of checks and balances, what kind of world are we signing up for?
Doing well by doing good
When Barday reflected on selling pocketknives as a youth, he found an ethical lesson with greater significance: the kids who bought from him just wanted to fit in or develop a friendship, and their money could’ve been used on something better. He believes the business lacked the right principles.
In talking to his employees about culture, Barday wants to motivate them with OneTrust’s mission of promoting privacy in a digital world and being a part of the solution to some of the thorny questions that have surfaced amid so much disruption.
“The fact that there are privacy laws, and people are becoming more aware, is awesome,” Barday says. “But if we don’t have these types of checks and balances, what kind of world are we signing up for?”
While OneTrust’s offerings are business-to-business, there is an impact on individuals, as its customer base includes a large number of employees and customers. Barday wants a better future for them.
“Imagine growing up in a world where everyone knows your search history,” he says. “We’re one breach away from that. What are the implications of that? It’s a scary thought.”