Jeff Hudson, CEO of Venafi, has been recognized as an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of The Year® 2021 for Utah! Recipients of this award are distinguished for their innovation, ambition, and personal commitment to building and growing successful businesses.
Over the last 10 years Jeff has been the driving force behind the multi-discipline effort to create the new, groundbreaking security category of machine identity management, which was recently recognized by Gartner, the technology industry's most trusted analyst firm.
Customer success, honesty and transparency have consistently been Jeff’s top priorities, and he’s been dedicated to demonstrating these values since day one. He is dedicated to protecting the world’s most sensitive networks from emerging cyberattacks. The urgent need for automated, scalable machine identity management solutions is starkly illustrated by the nation-state attack on SolarWinds that ultimately impacted the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the U.S. Federal Reserve, the U.S. Department of Defense, Microsoft, Credit Suisse, Visa, MasterCard, Hertz and Cisco, as well as many other organizations.
Under Jeff Hudson’s leadership, Venafi became the inventor and leading provider of machine identity management solutions. Thanks to his forward thinking and innovative mindset, Jeff understood where the security market was heading before the rest of the industry. Venafi is the only company to hold patents in every machine identity category. With a 100% success rate, Venafi has been awarded every single one of the 32 patents requested since 2003.
The world’s most sensitive and important organizations trust Venafi and Jeff Hudson. Venafi’s customer base includes 50% of the Fortune 50, the top five U.S. health insurers, the top five U.S. airlines, the top four credit card issuers, three out of the top four accounting and consulting firms, four of the top five U.S., U.K., Australian and South African banks and four of the top five U.S. retailers.
Building an ecosystem of cyber security innovation
In 2018, Jeff oversaw the creation of the Machine Identity Management Development Fund, providing developers with sponsored funding to create innovative machine identity management technology. The fund encourages recipients to build integrations that deliver greater visibility, intelligence and automation across any technology that creates or consumes machine identities, including cloud and hybrid infrastructure, DevOps, containerization, Secure Shell (SSH), code-signing, AI, ML, big data analytics, IoT and blockchain technologies. Over the past three years, Venafi has sponsored a range of developers, including consultants, systems integrators, fast-moving startups, open-source developers, and other cybersecurity vendors. In 2020, Venafi doubled the number of developer projects in the fund, with 16 new additions.
Jeff understands the future of identity and security will involve DevOps and the cloud. In May 2020, Venafi acquired Jetstack, a global leader in open-source machine identity protection software for Kubernetes and cloud native ecosystems, and an early participant in the Development Fund. This acquisition was an industry first and is reshaping the way modern applications required by digital transformation are secured.
Success is impossible without a values-driven company culture
Venafi’s innovative culture can be attributed to its values: honesty, awareness, risk-taking and team before self. Jeff Hudson lives and breathes these values and rewards employees when he sees them doing the same; he even worked with the leadership team to a book highlighting employee stories that exemplify the values.
Giving back to the community is also a key component of Venafi’s culture. In 2020, Jeff encouraged the company to mobilize for social justice, which resulted in employees being involved in donating $50,000 to organizations devoted to social justice causes, such as Feeding America, Black Girls Code, and Equal Justice Initiative.
In addition to monetary donations, Venafi has also donated musical instruments to children in Seattle and even launched a scholarship program for one of the children. The team also donated items to people who lost their homes and livelihoods in the fires on the West Coast in 2020.