Interview With Todd McKinnon, Okta Co-Founder and CEO

Okta Part 1: Business Overview

Hey everyone, I filmed this interview with Todd over two months ago. I apologize for the delay and hope you enjoy the interview.

I’ve followed Todd for the last three years and find him to be one of the most thoughtful and innovative business leaders I know. I intend to do a deep dive into Okta’s business but instead of waiting until that’s ready, I want to get this interview out now.

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During the interview we discuss everything from Okta's earliest days to how Todd incorporates mental and physical health into his routine and what the future of Okta's platform might look like. Most readers have already heard of Okta, but a quick overview of the company from the investor relations page:

“Okta is the leading independent identity provider. The Okta Identity Cloud enables organizations to securely connect the right people to the right technologies at the right time. With more than 7,000 pre-built integrations to applications and infrastructure providers, Okta provides simple and secure access to people and organizations everywhere, giving them the confidence to reach their full potential. More than 10,650 organizations, including JetBlue, Nordstrom, Siemens, Slack, T-Mobile, Takeda, Teach for America, and Twilio, trust Okta to help protect the identities of their workforces and customers.”

And a few slides from their Q1 FY 2022 earnings report

The Interview

Timestamps:
00:00 Intro
01:10 How has Todd maintained his focus on mental and physical health in his personal life and as Founder and CEO of Okta
03:23 How Todd used social media in 2020 to stay visible as a leader to Okta employees, customers, and investors
07:08 Okta's birthday Tweet and Todd's first-ever Tweet in 2007
08:00 Why Okta started as SaaSure and why they changed to Okta in 2010
09:57 Acquiring the Okta.com domain from the Over Seas Korean Trading Association
10:00 Why it was important for the Okta team to have a bold vision in 2010
11:30 Original thesis for Okta; as more services moved to the cloud, it makes sense to move security and identity management to the cloud
14:00 How Okta's products have evolved into a platform
18:50 Todd's thoughts on Okta and the future of security
21:00 The potential for Okta to move into consumer-facing identity
25:00 Okta and Blockchain
29:00 How 2020 was a tipping point for Okta's business
37:00 How Todd thinks about leadership and leading by example
42:00 The purpose of annual user conferences and what Oktane will look like in the future.
47:00 The origin of Okta Businesses at Work Report
50:00 Who Todd is learning from in the business world (Ben Horowitz from a16z, Peter Gassner from Veeva,)

Additional Links & Videos

If you want to learn more about the lifeblood of Okta, I highly recommend this video from Oktane21. They covered some extremely important topics here beyond just business.

The Okta Business At Work report is a must-read for me annually. It provides an in-depth look into how organizations and people are working each year and specifically, what applications and services are most popular.

Finally, Okta’s annual user conference “Oktane” is a great way to learn more about the company, its customers, and the future of identity management. Here’s a link to all of the keynotes, sessions, and announcements from Oktane 21.

That’s all from me this week. I intend to get back to writing about founder-led companies regularly so stay tuned and share this newsletter on social media or with a friend!

Have a great weekend,

Austin

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