Townsend Security CEO John Earl Steps Down
March 19, 2012 Timothy Prickett Morgan
Last week, security software vendor Townsend Security said that John Earl, the company’s president and CEO for nearly three years and a beloved and well-known OS/400 and IBM security expert, had to step down for health reasons from those positions.
Many of you know Earl from his years at PowerTech and all of the work he has done for COMMON and other local user groups over the years, and it goes without saying that Earl is one of the most important and influential people in our IBM i community. This is why he ended up running Townsend Security.
Patrick Townsend, the company’s founder who was given the freedom to play around with technology while Earl was running his company, is returning to the CEO position at the company that bears his name. Even though Earl is on medical leave, Townsend said that Earl is still advising him–and I got the impression it was perhaps, in Earl’s irascible and lovable way, whether Townsend liked it or not. (Trust me, Townsend likes it and has a great sense of humor as does Earl.)
“John’s tenure here was truly remarkable,” Townsend wrote me in an email. And I will quote it in its entirety for you.
“In just two short years, he managed to help us grow by 50 percent, both in top line revenue and in employee headcount. We got new products out the door for IBM i FIELDPROC encryption for V7R1, and a partnership and product in place for Microsoft SQL Server EKM. He also helped us re-orient towards the user experience. Every day he preached making the user experience easy. We had tended to make products that developers could love, but we needed to make products that were easy to use. We changed the user experience, and got better internally on our development processes. And along the way we cemented a partnership with Symantec for complete management of the IBM i and IBM z mainframe PGP encryption products. A remarkable run!”
“I loved John’s ingrained and irreverent approach to security. He knew that most people don’t really like having to deal with security on their IBM i systems, and tend to avoid doing anything. But his sympathy was always with everyday users and developers. He had a finely tuned skepticism towards vendor claims about compliance and certification. ‘Show me the certificate!’ was his answer to vendor claims. And he would hoot about weasel language related to FIPS-140-2 certification. But I never heard him complain or grouse about people who actually get up every day trying to serve their users and customers.”
“John is truly famous (and infamous) in the IBM i world. He loves to travel to user groups, and he loves COMMON. He seemed to know everyone in the industry, and everyone seems to have a story about John. He’s spending a lot of time with his family now, and we miss him around the office. We’ve been privileged to work with him these last few years.”
Personally, I look forward to the day when Earl is back on his feet, laughing and telling stories. Most of which I couldn’t print.