Melih Abdulhayoğlu, CEO and founder of Comodo, talks to MicroScope about his calling to make the internet a safer place and admits to having a very sweet tooth.
Tell us what you do for a living
I’m the CEO and founder of Comodo, a security company on a mission to "Create Trust Online”. You know that padlock at the bottom of your screen when you make a purchase online? That was me. Right now, I’m overseeing a channel drive in the UK to sign up resellers for the only antivirus solution with a $5,000 virus-free guarantee.
Why are you the right person for this job?
I understand resellers need a product that is truly different in a crowded antivirus market and don’t want margins eroded by unhappy customers that are infected and are (rightfully) annoyed after they bought a product specifically to protect them.
What gets you up in the morning?
I have this innate need to protect people. Making the internet a safer place allows me to do this. I had to figure out how to make money, to scale it and protect more people.
Who helped you get to where you are today?
Lots of people, but I can’t really pick out just one or two people, that would be unfair. Although, I’ve always looked back at my time at the University of Bradford with fond memories – the education I got there pretty much set me up for life.
What is the best or worst business advice you have received and from whom?
The worst advice I’ve been given is, “Don’t worry, things will work themselves out. You have to press on – only you can make your dream happen, but you need to persist and take control." The best advice is quite simply to never give up.
What advice would you give to someone starting out today in IT?
That’s easy. I’d just repeat the best advice I’ve received, “Never give up!” You’re going to hit obstacles left, right and centre. The minute you doubt yourself, the minute you give up, is the moment you lose that entrepreneurial flair.
What’s running on your smartphone?
Email, games, my calendar – loads of stuff, all the time.
What does the next five years hold for the channel?
From a security point of view, hopefully resellers will take a second look at endpoint security as products that can legitimately protect people become more prevalent. Symantec recently came out and admitted that traditional antivirus products cannot protect users, albeit it over a year after I called on the entire industry to admit it. But still, Symantec admitted it, and I thank it for it. Hopefully others will follow.
Tell us something most people do not know about you.
I love sweets! They’re my biggest weakness…
What goal do you have to achieve before you die, and why?
Communications has advanced the human race through the ages because it has helped us retain and share vital information and behaviours. For instance, in just 100 years, we went from horseback to jet planes.
Now the internet has become the central communication engine of our time, expanding our reach more broadly than ever before. With this tremendous reach, however, the internet has yet to achieve its full potential.
In my mind I have the vision of a ‘trusted internet’, where every online interaction will include a new layer of security, enabled by an infrastructure designed to help us create mutual and real-time trust. That is my goal.
What is the best book you've ever read?
Evolve Your Brain: The Science of Changing your Mind, by Joe Dispenza.
And the worst film you’ve ever seen?
It must have been terrible, as I’ve done a good job of forgetting it!
What would be your desert island MP3s?
A best of the 1980s mega-mix. You can’t beat that decade for music!
What temptation can you not resist?
What was your first car and how does it compare with what you drive now?
My first car was an Austin that cost £750. It’s certainly different to what I drive now.
Who would you least like to be stuck in a lift with? Why, what did they do?
There aren’t many – I get on with most people and you can always have a good debate with others. I’ll have to say Dracula, for obvious reasons.
If you could be any animal for a day, what would you be and why?
A lion. They get to lie around all day, basking in the sun and not doing any work. It’s got to be a great lifestyle.
If you could take part in one event in an Olympic Games, summer or winter, which would you choose and why?
Football – I love it. I play socially, but I’d love to give it a go at that level. It might not be the World Cup, but I’d take the Olympic stage any day.
If you were facing awesome peril and impossible odds, which real or fictional person would you most want on your side and why?
Doc Brown from Back to the Future. We’d escape the peril in the DeLorean – problem solved.
This was first published in July 2014