For more than 15 years, Axiomatics has worked with companies worldwide to define and deliver solutions to the most complex authorization and access challenge.
In this special episode of Dynamically Speaking, guest host and Axiomatics President/CCO Jim Barkdoll sits down with Babak Sadighi, Founder and CEO of Axiomatics to discuss Axiomatics’ founding, the evolution of the company (and of dynamic authorization!) and what Babak feels is next for the market and for Axiomatics.
Jim: Welcome to another episode of Dynamically Speaking! This is a special episode where we have the CEO and founder of Axiomatics, Babak Sadighi.
We’re going to talk about, uh, the history of Axiomatics and how we got started, and where we are today. Babak, the marketing team made a huge mistake of putting you and I together, so we’ll see how this, uh, see how this flows!
Babak: It’s going to go well.
Jim: Great! Uh, so maybe we can start with, um, the circumstances that led to you founding Axiomatics and creating the company.
Babak: Sure. So, Axiomatics was as you know uh founded back in 2006 as a research spin-off. We were a team of researchers who were doing, uh, looking at authorization in general and seeing the problems and issues with the existing models at that time which led us to developing the whole concept of attribute-based access control and a more dynamic way of managing authorizations mainly for complex scenarios that many of the enterprises and organizations are facing.
Jim: How did you know that would become an important market that is today at that time?
Babak: Well, we, when we started as a researchers we were not looking at as the market to be honest, but as we had a conversation and dialogue with different, uh, customers – oh not customers at that point – but with different research partners but also use cases that we were looking at then, we kind of realized that this gonna be something that’s gonna come up sooner or later because many of those organizations were bringing up the issues they had with the existing model which is role-based access control and we could see that that static model doesn’t really capture the dynamics that these organizations have to deal with.
Jim: That’s exciting. Makes sense. So, can you tell me a little bit about, um, the people that you first embarked on this journey with, uh, how you found them, or or how you come to Axiomatics with you?
Babak: So, that was the easy part because we were a group of researchers and that we were working together and so the very first team were my research colleagues, really, who joined me when we started company.
And then we started to add more and more people and those, the first thing we brought in were people who were quite well known in the field of identity access management both in Europe and in the U.S. So, and it was teamwork really from beginning.
Jim: Can you tell me maybe, can you remember the first time where you realized that the product, uh, once you formed Axiomatics was resonating and that the market was understanding and accepting the the product?
Babak: Yeah. I would say that really really the first case I could see that, wow, this is something that people need. It was the first U.S. customer we had, and the discussions and the dialogues we have with that customer who were very, very well educated on the topic and they knew exactly what they were looking for and they could easily see the benefits of Axiomatics, our product and our expertise, and I’m happy to see that they are still a customer after 12 years.
Jim: That’s amazing. Yeah. It’s one of the definitely one of the exciting things about Axiomatics is the the length of the clientele since you guys have been going at it in the market.
I’m sure along the way there’s been, challenges, like any company getting to the to the size and success rate today. Can you tell me what were some of the challenges that you faced along the way?
Babak: Sure. So, uh, there are different categories of challenges of course. So, I think one of the main challenges has been change of technology in the market. We have been around for quite a long time and it has, I mean, how people deploying software, how they do that, that’s, that has changed a couple of times since we founded the company, and to catch up with that and make sure that we are still doing the right thing and people can actually use our solution in a modern architecture, that has been a challenge and it’s always going to be a challenge for, not only us, for every software company to keep up with.
Other challenges are from time to time you’re worried about the financials, you’re worried about employees, those kind of stuff, which is again, challenges at every company, every startup…
So, nothing specific to us, I would say. One, one challenge really has been that I believe that the market was not very mature and it’s not yet fully mature and that has been a challenge in sales, but we see that it’s changing very, very rapidly now.
Jim: Yeah. As a, as a Swedish company and, and as you started to grow, can you talk a little bit about what, um, prompted you to to open up in North America and start to add North American team members?
Babak: Yeah, absolutely, because that was very, that was really obvious from, uh, to us right from beginning that our first market was the fortune 500 type of companies and especially the U.S. based companies. Don’t ask me why, but I think that the U.S. market is as, has been very early adopters oriented than the others.
Jim: Yeah. Yeah, no, that’s a great answer. So, along those lines and with the adoption maybe you can talk about, what’s the the most exciting, uh, thing so far in the journey with Axiomatics? Can you point to what the thing that maybe you’re most proud of today?
Babak: I think I’m mostly proud of the people that have joined us the people who have been with us for a long time, the people who actually rejoined Axiomatics, the team, and also the type of customers we have and see that they are using our products fully and they get a lot of value. Many of them have expanded in their usage and in their licenses. These are, this is kind of a proof of the fact that what we are doing is valuable. Solve some issues.
Jim: No, that, and that actually leads that’s a that’s a great, uh, point into the next question…
So, you know one of the amazing things about Axiomatics is the longevity of the original founders of the company and, and the types of experts we have on board that have been employees for many years. But you’ve recently added quite a few new, uh, people to the to the company. I think you maybe have the percentages of new versus old in terms of people you’re bringing on.
Can you talk a little bit about what that’s been like to have new people join the original visionaries?
Babak: Yep! That’s actually an interesting question. I have to think about it a little bit, but I think that the obvious, uh, a quick answer to that is that it has been extremely interesting to bring in the new team yeah and,I think that the new team that we have now are very, very experienced and that I’m very optimistic about what we can do in the future with the new team that we have.
Actually, I would like to ask you a question because you are one of the recent, I mean, you’ve been with Axiomatics in six months
Jim: Since May, yep.
Babak: Since May, yeah. Why? Why Axiomatics? Why did you join, join us, beside the fact that I approached you and called you and…
Jim: You’re you’re a persistent man!
Uh, no, look in all honesty you and I have known each other for a couple of years, um, and, uh, you know I’ve been in, uh, specifically cybersecurity and more directly data security for the last 10 years, um, you know.
So, number one, one of the things that people I look for, what attracts me is founder-led companies with great vision and amazing technology that are in a space where they’re able to do something that’s going to contribute significantly to the market to help with cybersecurity issues which you know I think sometimes there’s solutions that are just positioned because there’s a latest trend and so people come in to try to capitalize on that versus being visionary to understand that there is a problem, there’s something that needs to be solved and it’s going to help everybody when when this type of technology is adopted.
So, number one, uh, the product is important. I think also if you look at the timing when you and I spoke again and what prompted me to join in May, um, you mentioned the market and the maturity it’s, it’s really a for me it’s always about timing and the market and the maturity has at least the recognition has started to come there that people realize that a technology like ABAC be implemented and that the supporting technologies and and things that happen in their environments have taken place to now laid the groundwork to where ABAC can truly come in and be implemented similar to a lot of the early adopter customers we have.
So, you know, I think that, that’s important and then, um, always for me, family- oriented companies, and Axiomatics is very much that, right? So, even though as we’ve been adding and growing, um, having that type of support from your colleagues where you trust one another is really important.
Babak: I agree, yeah. I think both of our, us and, um, I agree with you this is interesting. But, uh, let me know…What do you think in the future, the next couple of years, what do you see in front of us? How do we…
Jim: I think it’s explosive growth, right. I mean, we have an opportunity in front of us to make the market successful with ABAC.
There’s an understanding of attribute-based access control now and, you know, has, has been, uh, documented and talked about when you look at things like NIST and Zero Trust, authorization is a best practice.
Of course, there’s legacy technology to support that, but you know, I think as we’ve certainly seen from our customers that have adopted, ABAC and centralized fine grain entitlement is an important opportunity for everybody, not just people who are early adopters and not just the largest enterprises, most complex in the world.
It’s something especially as more and more we have the push to the cloud and digital transformation’s accelerating, it’s, it’s the right place and the right time for the market.
So, I think you know, when you look at our uh company just the beginning of us from a growth standpoint. I think we’ll be a, you know, a large player in, uh, in cybersecurity.
Babak: I agree. How has it been these five months that you’ve been with us? What’s the what…
Jim: My Swedish is rusty…
No, look, it’s been everything that I hoped for. You know, so we’ve got, um, you know a mix of like I said the founder-led experts, people that have been here been part of the original growth story, embracing new energy and new people joining that maybe have a little bit more experience from an enterprise, go-to-market standpoint, and people have been successful bringing similar, uh, technologies to market before so I think it’s a, it’s a great marriage.
It’s. been it’s been a, really, really you know if you can look at, um, you know kind of that period of joining a company and, uh, did i make the right decision was everything that I was promised in the interview process there? There’s nothing that you and I discussed you and I were very upfront with what the challenges were in the company versus the opportunities and, and everything’s come to bear so far that we talked about, so it’s been great.
Babak: Very good.
Jim: How about, you know, so I think one of the things that both you and I, uh, know all too well in the cybersecurity market there’s a lot of competition.
There’s over three thousand cybersecurity vendors, startups, all different technologies. A lot of noise in the market. What would you attribute the fact that, that Axiomatics has been able to have the longevity and, and have staying power, right? We see lots of people that are either come and gone, startups that haven’t worked out, technologies that didn’t hit the mark.
What would you say that has been the reason that Axiomatics has, has the same power that it has?
Babak: I think two things but both kind of connected to each other, of course. It’s, I believe that we had and have a very, very strong team with the, uh, domain knowledge yeah I think that Axiomatics’ strength is the fact that we have the best domain knowledge, the people who have look at this from research to product development to helping customers and, um, you know it takes time to to gather that kind of experience.
So that is one part of it. The other thing is that I believe that our products have been extremely well-designed and performing very well. I mean, we hear from customers that it’s very stable, um, the product is doing exactly what it should do.
So, and that, that’s important if you as a software company and if you want to continue grow and to to have a stable product and have the team who have the domain knowledge, have the expertise and that makes the core.
Jim: Yeah, that’s… I totally agree. So, um, in closing here, similar to the question that you asked me, what’s ahead for Axiomatics in your opinion?
Babak: Well, I, I think it’s a very, very exciting time in front of us. I’m really excited about the whole, new team that we have, all the expertise that we have added to our existing team. I think that the market maturity we see that is coming.
In fact, I’m happy that we have competitors. That shows the fact that the market is getting more mature, and we, we did a lot of hard work educating the market for a long time.
Now there are others who help us with that. Great! So, in the future I think there are a number of interesting ideas and innovations that we are working on that I hope that we can soon bring those to the market and show that Axiomatics is number one!
Jim: Yeah, I agree. Yeah, I mean, with you know what attracted me to, uh, Axiomatics first was your leadership and, and your trustworthiness, and that’s obviously why we’ve got the strength of the people that have been with you and also the attraction for the new people are coming on board.
So, I’m excited about our future and, uh, appreciate your time today!
Babak: Thank you! You, too.
Jim: Yeah, so, this was Dynamically Speaking and we look forward to talking to you again soon!