Okta CEO: We're solving the identity management puzzle

Todd McKinnon explains how his startup, Okta, provides customers with centralized access control for thousands of cloud applications -- and now on-premise apps as well

I think the bigger challenge for the cloud business -- Azure and Office 365, which are just now starting to get to scale -- is that the core part of the company has billion-dollar targets to hit with Office. It's really going to go through the key part of the innovator's dilemma, where the new businesses start to really eat up the old businesses. We'll have to wait and see how they handle that.

InfoWorld: As you look at this market opportunity, which seems like a big one, what keeps you awake at night? What do you see as the big challenge in making sure you capture that opportunity?

McKinnon: People ask me that and I think they expect me to say the competition. One of the things I've learned running a company is that in the beginning you worry about competition all the time. You have this idea and you wonder: What if somebody else comes out with something?

Several years into it now, what I've realized is that the biggest issue is your own execution. I'll be more specific. What we do has the advantage of being very horizontal. We're identity for everything across every industry. That's a pretty horizontal product. So what I worry about is our company is not huge. We're growing fast, but we're still small. Are we focusing on the right things? Are we focusing on the right functionality? Is the message directed at the right people that we can have a conversation with efficiently?

A big cost for us is sales and marketing. If we're not focused on having the right conversation with the right people, we can burn a lot of calories talking to the wrong people, which has a material impact on the finances of the company. So I worry about those kinds of things: focus, alignment and execution.

This article, "Okta CEO: We're solving the identity management puzzle," originally appeared at InfoWorld.com. Read more of Eric Knorr's Modernizing IT blog. And for the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld on Twitter.

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