First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID19 times?
Marco DeMello: We are fine, doing as well as possible. We’re maintaining social distance, following all WHO safety recommendations, and closely following the news. We continue to hope for a vaccine against this virus as soon as possible.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded or joined PSafe
Marco DeMello: I’m in the technological innovation business for more than twenty years’ now, and have experience in excellence in developing and operating high-scale systems. Having worked for over 10 years at Microsoft, I was responsible for projects such as the acquisition and expansion of Hotmail, Windows security infrastructure’s complete restructuring which resulted in the delivery of Windows XP SP3 (the most secure release of Windows and the base for Windows 7), and the development of Exchange Server 2007.
During this time at Microsoft, I also obtained my MBA from the Wharton School of Business, and later joined Sport Runner as CTO for four years in Los Angeles where I was responsible for the creation of the Malibu platform, an online Media Exchange that was able to optimize the buying and selling of millions of advertising opportunities per second in Cable TV spots.
In early 2011, in Brazil, along with Ram Rao and Ben Myers in America, we founded PSafe, which became the first Brazilian company to offer a completely free mobile security service, and also the first startup in the country to reach a market value of R $1 billion (R is the Brazilian currency: Real). Currently, the company has more than 200 million downloads on its main app, dfndr security.
How does PSafe innovate?
Marco DeMello: PSafe continuously innovates through its dfndr product line, which offers a complete suite of data security and privacy. In 2020, PSafe expanded its business strategy by entering the B2B market with the launch of dfndr enterprise, a complete security and privacy solution for corporate data. The demand for this solution has intensified with the Covid-19 pandemic, precisely because many companies have hastily joined the remote working model.
As a result, many employees started using their own devices for work, accessing confidential corporate data through home-WiFi networks, which don’t have the same level of security as corporate WiFi networks. This makes corporate data more susceptible to actions of cyber criminals. It’s no coincidence that between March and June, business data leaks in the world grew by 47%, compared to the previous quarter.
With dfndr enterprise, companies have a security solution that guarantees protection against phishing, malware, and ransomware scams, through advanced artificial intelligence and machine learning techniques. In addition, the solution is backed by a constantly-updated database of virtual threats — the largest in Latin America — which further helps corporations recognize threats and prevent the leakage of data and access credentials from company assets and from employees.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business and how are you coping?
Marco DeMello: Since March, when WHO declared a state of pandemic, like all other companies all over the world, we at PSafe also had to adapt to the new reality. As an immediate measure, we authorized 100% remote work for all our employees, to ensure everyone’s safety, and since then we have implemented actions to make our performance better as a team. Once a month I have held a general meeting via video-conference to keep everyone apprised of the results we’ve achieved together — and so far, on balance, the effort has been quite positive.
Did you have to make difficult choices and what are the lessons learned?
Marco DeMello: It wasn’t necessary for us to take difficult measures because our company, being digital, allows employees to adapt to a 100% remote work model — and that’s exactly what we did. Our main concern at the moment is ensuring the safety of our employees through every measure we undertake. The lesson we have learned — and it’s one we like to pass on wherever we can — is that security is fundamental, and more important now than ever before.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety, how do you project yourself and PSafe in the future?
Marco DeMello: I think it’s important to stay calm and focus on taking care of people right now. Even with all of the difficulties going on outside, we have been trying to provide the best possible environment, here at work. Like most companies, we’re planning and looking ahead to how we can become even more resilient and prepared for adversity when all this is over.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Marco DeMello: At the moment, our biggest competitors are mobile security solutions for Android and iOS. However, with the launch of the dfndr enterprise and our entry into the B2B market, we will have an entire set of new competitors that includes developers of mobile security and privacy solutions, and also for Windows computers. We are well-prepared for this challenge and we believe that the keys to staying in this game are the same that have sustained us thus far: never underestimating our opponents; understanding the needs of our customers, and continuous innovation focused on those needs..