Mark Forrest DTX 2019 Interview
NATALIE TURNER [00:00:14] Hello and welcome back to day one of the Digital Transformation Expo. You’re with me, Natalie Turner from Disruptive Live. And today, I’m joined by Mark Forrest, the CEO of Cryptshare. How are you?
MARK FORREST [00:00:26] Very pleased to meet you.
NATALIE TURNER [00:00:27] It’s lovely to meet you too. Thank you for joining us on Disruptive. So how’s your day gone?
MARK FORREST [00:00:32] It’s pretty busy. Usual mix. We’ve got the let me say the tar kickers the people who want some freebies and we’ve got the other end of spectrum people who’ve got real money to spend and see a problem to be solved. And we’re dealing with both. So it’s it’s good so far.
NATALIE TURNER [00:00:45] Fantastic. Is this your first year at DTX?
MARK FORREST [00:00:48] It’s the first time I’ve been to this show. But you to tell for my my slightly venerable looks, I’ve been to thousands of shows over the year all around the world. And have to say this is the same as most. We have the usual mix.
NATALIE TURNER [00:01:01] But you’ve met me today. It must be slightly different.
MARK FORREST [00:01:03] I have, which has improved my day immensely. So good to see you.
NATALIE TURNER [00:01:06] Oh, well that’s very sweet. Thank you. So can you tell us a little bit about Cryptshare, your role within the company. I mean, obviously, you’re the big boss. So walk us through it. You know, you’ll know everything there is.
MARK FORREST [00:01:16] When you say big boss, I hope you’re not referring to my sides.
NATALIE TURNER [00:01:19] No I mean you are the boss.
MARK FORREST [00:01:21] Yeah. We also have somebody. And in the end, we serve the shareholders happily I’m the principal shareholder as well. I mean, the story is that I’ve been around the industry a long time. I’ve built up very successful companies, many of whom are in this hall, made multibillion dollar fortunes for other people. And there comes a time in your life where you need to do something yourself. And so actually, the opportunity came about to solve a very specific problem that people understand to some extent, but perhaps haven’t solved, which is we all use communication channels such as email. We kind of assume that they’re safe in the real world they’re not. And there are certain risks you know file size security audit ability that can actually be quite easily solved and make a universal tool like email suitable for the model, modern age in a conference like this or an event like this. Which is talking about digitalisation. I think we have to look at what we have already and perhaps where we need to go and just understand what kind of risks are represented in this hall because they’re myriad.
NATALIE TURNER [00:02:21] Right. So what’s the key message that you’re wanting to get out today? And what do you what are you hoping to attain from DTX?
MARK FORREST [00:02:30] Temptation is to make an overt product pitch. I won’t do that. I think the comments I would want to make something about which I become increasingly obsessed is people’s limited understanding of privacy and the manner in which privacy is being infringed. And if we look at one end of the hall, we have people who are dealing with different kinds of threats and risks at the other end. We look at tools, analytics tools, which are being used to create extremely specific profiles of everybody in this room. Everybody in the city, everybody in this country, in Europe, in the world. And that data, that knowledge is being triangulated in multiple ways, which actually creates huge risks of abuse. And in Europe, we have some legislation GDPR particularly general data protection regulation, which is seeking to protect individual rights and privacies. We see some things emerging in the US which are similar, but they’re very immature still. But the truth is, the agenda in the US is how do we monetize data? And the big companies, Facebook, Googles and so on are doing some very sinister things I have to say to, including influencing elections and all kinds of unmentionable subjects we have in this country in ways which I find very worrying. And at the other extreme, you have China who are using data manipulation and analysis and let me say breaches of people’s privacy to manipulate politics, to pre-empt people’s behaviour, to police, government control. And some of the stories we’re seeing reported are very worrying. So these multiple axes of things that are being done with data, my agenda and being here is to say, how can I in my small way protect a part of that? But I guess recognizing that every customer in this room looking to buy one technology probably needs to consider 100. It’s very hard for them.
NATALIE TURNER [00:04:20] Yeah absolutely. I mean, with privacy. It’s such a big topic. Like you said, people don’t really have a lot of knowledge around it or they’re not really aware of how important it is. I mean, this might seem like a silly question, but why is that I’ve always wondered why people don’t to take it too seriosuly.
MARK FORREST [00:04:36] Do you have a mobile phone?
NATALIE TURNER [00:04:37] I do. Yes.
MARK FORREST [00:04:38] Do you understand how the privacy settings work?
NATALIE TURNER [00:04:40] I do, yes.
MARK FORREST [00:04:41] OK, good. That’s an unusual answer. Most people say, oh, yeah, let me look. And they get the phone and they scroll down. They look for the settings. The reality of these devices is they offer us an incredible experience, access to all kinds of people in different ways for different things. And there’s a price. We use these tools largely for free and the prices that our privacy is breached routinely to aggregate the knowledge that is held about us. But the fact of it is it isn’t just the voice monitoring, you know, from WhatsApp or Facebook. When I’m talking to my wife in a private conversation, if I happen to make the wrong statement or she does, that private conversation becomes public asset. People don’t see it. They don’t expect it. They don’t understand the power of the device and in the end, it comes down to the thing we’ve talked about. I’ve been in IT security for over 35 years and we’ve always talked about people as being the probably the greatest vulnerability and that’s still true today. And what we can do to mitigate the risk, we can train people, we can educate them and inform them. Part of the session like this is to inform. But I would start and say get a basic awareness of what that device. Every one of us has one what it can do that’s helpful to you. And what it can do that’s damaging, because it can do a lot of damage.
NATALIE TURNER [00:05:59] I mean, you know, we’ve spoken about how IT has evolved. You said, you know, you’ve been in it for 35 years. The amount of development that’s happened over that time is quite astronomical really.
MARK FORREST [00:06:08] It’s terrifying.
NATALIE TURNER [00:06:10] Yes, it is terrifying. I mean, there’s so many threats and vulnerabilities, risks that people are facing. But what I want to know, because I’ve been bugged down today with all these awful things that can happen to you, you know, down to privacy really. What are the opportunities? What can we gain from this?
MARK FORREST [00:06:28] Maybe we hold a mirror up. If we look back at the last, we don’t have to look 35 years, look like back in the last 20, 20 years ago, the internet was just beginning. Let’s look forward 20 years and look at the pace of change and consider the sorts of things we may see. And we read everyday, you know, quantum computing, new encryption algorithms, you know, different capabilities, virtual reality, all sorts things that are very exciting. And the implication of those things is in the general domain, it’s positive. You know, medical research looking at, you know, building better cities, you know, better eco credentials for the things that we consume, maybe a more effective economy that can deal with more social problems and perhaps enable a fairer distribution of wealth. I mean, things that we think are important. That’s the positive side, the bad side, I’m afraid. To some extent cuts across the underlying economics that we work in. That there is a tendency for capital to go to the top of a very small number of hands. And I think one of the things we need to consider is a different kind of economic structure in the main nations in the world that these very, hugely wealthy, small number of people at the tops of organizations have to recycle wealth back into things which are creating value for everybody, not just for themselves. Actually, that may sound like the sort of change the world as in a Marxist kind of view. I don’t mean it in that context. I mean it in the context of having an understanding both as consumers of technology and people who depend on technology to some extent trying to see where it’s going, and then creating a paradigm in which it’s possible for people to be more social conscious. And I think underlying it all, that’s what we have to look forward to. But if we don’t see those things, it’s quite bleak.
NATALIE TURNER [00:08:13] Excellent.
MARK FORREST [00:08:15] Change the world.
NATALIE TURNER [00:08:17] Well, you know, I mean, from what you say, you you like you said you can only do like a small a small part. But can we go more into that, like what, what can you contribute? What’s different about you, your competitors that you can offer that maybe they can’t?
MARK FORREST [00:08:34] I think if I looked into my very small business, I think the sort of thing I would pride myself on doing is creating a working environment for a group of 150 people where they love to come to work, where they get paid well, where they feel included in a team. They feel they can be involved in decisions and at a very small level. That’s helpful. But we the companies actually based in a city called Freiburg in the south of Germany in the Black Forest, and we’re part of a city which has taken on eco credentials. They have a very strong economy and creating solar panels and solar energy generation and technologies of that kind. I think a positive in their approach and that that cascades out and being part of a German economy that sees these things as a value in the small instance growing out, I can see similar things happening in this country. And I think an event like this is about seeding good ideas. There are a lot of entrepreneurs in this room and myself amongst them who are trying to look at doing things in a better way. And that’s one of our slogans. You’re making email better. We have email. We don’t have to throw it away. Let’s recycle it in the form, solve the problems that it has, which we know make it available to everybody. So it’s ubiquitous. And then you take that one off the table as something that needs to be solved. And look at the next problem. And if you peel the onion skin, eventually the world becomes a safer place for us. And it may sound very naive. I hope I’m old enough not to be naive.
NATALIE TURNER [00:09:59] That’s my job.
MARK FORREST [00:10:00] Yeah, right. Okay. But I sort of have hope that we can do these things. But you start with little steps, baby steps and then maybe become a movement.
NATALIE TURNER [00:10:10] So talking about the event. What does digital transformation mean to you?
MARK FORREST [00:10:16] Truth is, it’s an opportunity to tell my story. To give a narrative about what we do and why and, you know, sometimes it’s about selling a product, sometimes it’s talking to somebody about how they educate their kids. And I have three kids in their thirties and or nearly in their thirties they see this they’ll probably call me up on that. And, you know, share experiences, people who have, let me say common values, but sharing those values. I think we all come away feeling rewarded by that. And I think attending events is useful and people who come I hope they get a chance to to share some stories, not just to listen to people selling stuff. So I think it’s more than that. And maybe with a little bit of thought, they can think about how they will have an impact on the world. You know, maybe a youngster will come in and say, I can do that. And if that happens as a result, it’s good.
NATALIE TURNER [00:11:02] Well look, that’s a lovely note to leave. We have actually run out of time, thank you so much for joining us. It’s been lovely talking to you.
MARK FORREST [00:11:08] Thanks for your time. I hope that was interesting.
NATALIE TURNER [00:11:10] No, it was fantastic. It was really informative, very engaging. I love to meet entrepreneurs because you always, all of you do something slightly different. And then one of you walks in and it’s completely different.
MARK FORREST [00:11:21] And we’re not all complete bastards.
NATALIE TURNER [00:11:23] No. I don’t. I don’t believe that.
MARK FORREST [00:11:26] But I’ve met many of the biggest names, and I’m afraid some of them are really, really ugly. I mean, I mean, ugly. Really mean.
NATALIE TURNER [00:11:33] Oh, okay. Oh, well, I look forward to that in the future.
MARK FORREST [00:11:37] Some of them are lovely. Bill Gates, meet Bill Gates. He’s a very nice chap.
MARK FORREST [00:11:41] Oh really?
MARK FORREST [00:11:42] Yeah. Yeah, yeah. I won’t give the names of the bad guys incase the cameras are still rolling.
NATALIE TURNER [00:11:47] I believe they are.
MARK FORREST [00:11:49] Okay.
NATALIE TURNER [00:11:49] Don’t go anywhere for now. But that’s all we have time for. Please don’t go away. We will be back after a short break. See you in a bit.