When PKI vendor Entrust Technologies Inc. went looking for a new CEO this spring, it didnt have to look far to find F. William Conner. Conner had been on Entrusts board since 1997 and was a key marketing and e-business executive at Nortel Networks Inc., which owns 25 percent of Entrust. He has his work cut out for him as he tries to help the company rebound from a disastrous first quarter and shrinking demand for its core public-key infrastructure line. Conner, who took over as CEO last week, spoke with Senior Writer Dennis Fisher about the challenges he faces.
eWeek: What is your short-term focus?
Conner: We need to take advantage of some of the technology that weve amassed over the last few years and not just depend on our PKI products. Were still known primarily as a PKI vendor, but my first job is to integrate PKI with our authentication products.
eWeek: How do you plan to make that happen?
Conner: Were going to focus more on our tool kits and network management and tailor those things for vertical markets. Up until now, the financial services and health care industries have been the main adopters, but we want to expand that. We want to keep ahead of the curve as to the way networks are changing.
eWeek: Theres been a lot of talk about PKI failing to live up to its potential and there being a lack of applications for it. Is that a fair assessment?
Conner: Ive been around PKI since it spun out of Nortel, and I dont think thats true. The majority of large companies use it, the government uses it, banks and financial institutions use it. If you have to count on security for your transactions, [PKI is] in there somewhere.
eWeek: Whats on the horizon for PKI, then?
Conner: The nature of PKI is changing. Its going to converge with authentication, and I want to put Entrusts technology at the heart of that. With our acquisition of enCommerce [last year], were in a good position to do that.
eWeek: Youre obviously very familiar with Entrust already since youve been on the board for a while. How will that help you in terms of getting things going in the right direction?
Conner: It should be a big help. I know the products and the people, so it shouldnt take me too long to get up to speed.
eWeek: Youre moving from Nortel, which is one of Entrusts biggest shareholders. Should we look for a tighter relationship between Nortel and Entrust as a result of you taking this job?
Conner: Well, weve already got a pretty close working relationship with Nortel. They own 25 percent of the company, as you know, and they also are one of our best partners. So, I would definitely look for that relationship to continue and well continue to look for ways to work with them.