My Borneo Journey — going from a startup founder to CEO.

Prithvi Rai4/4/2023 8 Min Read

We have a bold mission at Borneo, and every bold mission is shaped by learnings from our life experiences --- both successes and more importantly failures.

Borneo is a real-time data security and privacy observability platform, on a mission to empower security practitioners at hyper-growth companies in their journey to protect customer data and improve user trust.

Journey Part 1 --- The beginning

My fascination for technology developed at a very young age. I was in 7th grade when my brother brought home a second-hand Commodore 64 home computer. It changed my world. It ignited in me a passion for technology --- the possibilities seemed limitless. We spent endless hours learning to program on that little C64 and eventually started our first technology business, a small advertising company, to make computer-animated advertisements for our neighborhood cable television providers.

(C64 home computer with an external tape drive - we managed to do some really cool graphics with 64K RAM)

We started numerous other small businesses, including assembling X86 PCs, setting up LAN networks (Novell) for small companies. This experience, curiosity, and drive eventually lead to a very successful career in tech and finally brought me back to my entrepreneurial roots with the launch of Borneo in 2019.

Journey Part 2 --- The learnings

The learnings, exposure, and experience of being part of the growth story at Facebook, UBER, and Yahoo! have been tremendous. Being based in Silicon Valley, Hong Kong, India, and Singapore gave me an opportunity to be part of the vibrant silicon valley startup community and helped shape my work ethos and take with me the diverse culture and energy of these different cities across the globe.

All of these experiences helped pave the way for my greatest milestone to date, the launch of Borneo, the next-generation data privacy management platform.

Going back to 2005, the chance to work in Integration and divestiture when Yahoo! took a 40% stake in Alibaba. We had to solve some hard problems related to data jurisdiction, localization, and regulatory compliance which are all table stakes today.

Next is one of my career highlights, which is being part of the core team responsible for successfully delivering on all aspects of engineering and security controls required for Facebook's IPO readiness.

(Facebook IPO 12 May 2012, Nasdaq - Super fortunate to be part of one of the most exciting journeys in technology)

In addition to this include building and running Facebook's Technical Program Management organization, working with some of the smartest engineers responsible for delivering high-impact programs across Engineering, Infrastructure, and Security to power Facebook's phenomenal growth.

The key milestones are not just the successes but the failures too. The learnings from first-hand seeing the challenges and shortcomings of protecting customer data for the new data-driven business models helped shape my vision for Borneo.

(7 years later Uber IPO 9 May 2017 - NYSE, Amazing Journey, it always feels like the first time)

Journey Part 3 --- The Vision and Mission

The most important part of being a founder is defining the vision for Borneo, and executing our mission to empower companies to protect their customer data and improve user trust.

I had the unique benefit of working as a practitioner and sitting in the same seat as our customers and dealing with the same challenges.

My main focus and motivation as the Founder of Borneo today is to empower our customers to be prepared for the shifting landscape.

Privacy done right will become a huge competitive advantage for companies, sectors, and countries. At the same time, Privacy gone wrong can kill a business. There is going to be a 300% increase in expected class action lawsuits by next year. The risk of bad privacy practices is skyrocketing.

Large companies like Facebook, Google, Apple spend 100's of millions of dollars hiring the best security talent and building custom in-house solutions for privacy data management. They understand that having the best tools for managing and protecting customer data is a huge competitive advantage (perhaps their most important competitive advantage) and a critical part of maintaining user trust.

Most startups do not have the same level of resources, skills, or tools and their inability to do so has resulted in a significant "Privacy Debt" (the hidden cost of handling private data in a non-uniform or non-centralized way in a subsystem that is part of a larger architecture).

This Privacy Debt prevents companies from fully realizing that data's value and, just as critically, makes the data vulnerable --- increasing potential data breaches that erode user trust.

I want to take my learnings, experience, and network of practitioners passionate about privacy to build Borneo with the mission to empower companies to protect their customer data and improve user trust.

The inspiration for the company name comes from the memories of my trip to Borneo's rainforest in July 2014. I was fascinated with the biodiversity in one of the oldest rainforests in the world, which is disappearing unless we act "NOW". A similar analogy to how companies need to take urgent action "NOW" with regards to data privacy to prevent misuse of their vast and valuable data resources.

Journey Part 4 --- The Team

Companies don't build great products, people do.

I have been lucky to share this journey with some of the smartest, kind, and fun folks I have worked with.

Our founding team has had front-row seats to the evolution of the new data economy and has over 100 years of combined experience solving the privacy challenges of hyper-growth companies operating at a global scale at Facebook, Aerospike, Dropbox, Uber, and Yahoo!.

Team happy hours and hackathons using Zoom --- Love the resilience of our team where they continue to stay focussed and keep shipping against all odds and know how to have fun even if we cannot meet in person.

Journey Part 5 --- The Tech

Being practitioners ourselves, building a strong, open, flexible foundation that scales with our customer needs was a crucial part of our early design process.

We focussed on interviewing as many practitioners as we could in the first 12 months to learn in terms of the gaps with their existing approach, solutions, and ideas --- this led to us overcoming strong biases and making data-driven decisions. Most of our innovation is driven by these practitioner insights.

We focussed on the platform --- the core of which uses advanced machine learning for sensitive data discovery and classification, leading to real-time data usage monitoring.

This data intelligence automatically provides data protection and privacy baselines even when their underlying customer data or cloud infrastructure continuously changes.

Our platform is used by some of the most innovative and fast-growing B2C companies to provide real-time customer data use visibility, which helps their security teams meet their customer data privacy obligations with limited resources.

Getting data protection and privacy right is critical as businesses embrace digital transformations and a huge competitive advantage in the modern data-driven economy.

You can sign-up on to leverage Borneo's privacy data management platform to ensure they continue to maintain consistent privacy baselines as they handle more data and migrate to the cloud infrastructure and SaaS tools.

Journey Part 6 --- Opportunity in Crisis (COVID-19)

The COVID-19 pandemic has sped up the adoption of technology. More enterprises today are embarking on digital transformation to meet with more digitally savvy consumers.

Covid-19 accelerated tech adoption. More data, remote working, newer business models create new challenges and opportunities.

This trend will continue, which will exponentially increase the amount of data and ultimately data leakage that enterprises will incur, requiring more expertise and more powerful tools.

Companies need to act now to ensure they have the right controls and tools for data protection and privacy management to support this shift if they want to continue to be successful in a post-pandemic landscape.

We see this shift firsthand while working with forward-looking CISO's and CTO's at fast-growing companies using Borneo's privacy data management platform.

The increased adoption of new tech will also see evolving cybersecurity threats. How can businesses work on ensuring the security and privacy of data in the hyper-connected world we live in today?

CNY Lunch - looking forward to being able to do many more of these with the team post the COVID-19 lockdown

Journey Part 7 --- Massive Opportunity

More technology = More data = Customer data protection and privacy is a necessary and ethical investment.

Businesses need to seriously start thinking about the right data protection and privacy foundation to stay relevant in the hyper-connected world we live in today. Large and small companies need to be open to working with new innovative security startups that drive solutions for a new set of problems caused by the exponential increase in data volume and move to dynamic cloud infrastructure.

Many of the forward-looking leadership teams (CISO's, CTO's, CEOs) understand this. We are seeing an increasing demand in innovative companies reach out to us and want to protect their customer data and improve user trust using Borneo's privacy data management platform.

Journey Part 8 --- What's Next

It was said that every company would someday be a software company, and with that reality, it can now be said that every company is also now a data company

This paradigm shift presents increasingly complex security and privacy challenges as data flows through dynamic cloud-first environments. Businesses must act now to ensure that sensitive data is properly inventoried and adequately protected.

Borneo integrates with your existing security stack providing the required privacy data intelligence to prevent data leaks and privacy violations which are resulting in multi-million dollar fines and eroding user trust.

Borneo already has a product working at cloud scale at the fastest-growing fintech and Crypto companies and we are seeing overwhelming demand driven by tech IPOs. We are ramping up our investment in our technology platform and product to meet growing customer demand.

We want to be the guardrails for the data economy.

Journey Part 9 --- To Be Continued....

Team Offsites - work hard, play hard!

What is Borneo?

Borneo helps security & privacy teams achieve continuous compliance and data protection through accurate & actionable data discovery.

Want to watch Borneo in action? Request a demo here and we will get back to you soonest.

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