Gopi Sirineni | CEO | Axiado Corporation
Gopi Sirineni is the thrill-seeking CEO of Axiado, an A.I.-driven cybersecurity processor company headquartered in Silicon Valley. As evidenced by his successful career in high tech, Sirineni is constantly seeking innovation and chasing to forge new markets. He can grow ambitious projects into successes within established multinational corporations as well as while leading a pre-revenue startup.
At Axiado, Sirineni is aiming to create a market for a technology with the promise to thwart cybercrime and make the transmission of data far safer. After joining the company in April 2020, Sirineni was tasked with raising capital—a daunting task in any circumstance, but one made all the more difficult because of the global pandemic. Still, Sirineni rode a wave of ingenuity to secure $25 million in oversubscribed Series B funding for his emerging company.
You have a deep resume. You spent years at several major companies, including Qualcomm, and then moved on to smaller ones and to start-ups. What sparked that shift in career track for you?
I like to take up challenges, think outside the box, and see what is the need in the market that is not addressed. I like to take the challenge and win, but there’s more to my desire to build a company from the ground up. There’s a rush when you succeed and when you build something from scratch. Finding a market for a new product, or any innovation, is immensely interesting work. Each step along the way feels like a major success worth celebrating. And then suddenly, you look up one day, and you may have created the next $5 billion market. That’s what I hope to do at Axiado.
When I was at Qualcomm, we solved a real world Wi-Fi wireless problem with mesh Wi-Fi innovation that ended up becoming its own market. After having that kind of entrepreneurial success within a big company, I felt confident that I could also do it in a startup environment.
What is the biggest change you’ve seen in the semiconductor industry from the time you began?
The greatest change is the shift from security being relegated solely as the responsibility of software to where it now rightly belongs as part of hardware to start with.
The digital security industry started with software, and what followed, was a jumble of software patches that led to more patches, and then, still more patches on top of those. It has been an ever-expanding mess that we got ourselves into.
Now security is starting with hardware, because as we have begun to understand, if your hardware is vulnerable, then the security software on top of that doesn’t matter. It won’t be able to do its job.
So, security that relies on authentication, trust services, has to be controlled at the hardware level. Axiado is at the cutting edge of that movement with our on-chip A.I.-driven solution.
So, I understand you’re adventurous and into sports. Tell me how does being in an environment of an emerging company like Axiado have similarities to thrill-seeking sports?
Not just playing and coaching basketball and cricket. I paraglide, dive, bungee jump. Anything where I can feel more alive, I do. It’s the same with how you choose to spend your time with work or a mental pursuit.
In a young company, your first order of business as its CEO is to raise money. That really is a challenge. You need to articulate your passion and vision for your enterprise and, more importantly, why it provides value to customers and the industry as a whole.
In the case of Axiado, I entered as the company was still working on its product and facing the need for funding in a hurry. Then, on top of that, the COVID-19 pandemic hit hard!
But you know what? In situations like that, you roll up your sleeves, you learn the ins-and-outs of your business, you raise the bar for yourself and your team, and you work even harder than usual to achieve your goals.
I am extremely proud that, despite all the challenges and adversity in 2020 and into 2021, we closed our Series B financing and raised more capital than we were seeking.
What was it about Axiado that attracted you to the company and made you want to jump on board as its leader?
We are engineering a better way to keep the world safe.
I think of us as like the Bruce Willis character in the “Die Hard” movies: we are inside the building, tracking the threat actors with our technologies. And before the bad guys realize we exist, we can do enough damage to their underhanded plans by collecting key forensic data. We’re always on their tail, we’re diverting them, we’re frustrating them, we’re halting them in their tracks, and in many cases, we’re the only ones who can do so.
In other words, we have developed a new breed of products, the industry’s first Trusted Control/Compute Unit (TCU™) that is enhanced with artificial intelligence and integrated into the hardware of device manufacturers. As I said, many cybercrimes occur at the hardware level, often at start-up of the device, and once that happens, it doesn’t matter what vulnerabilities your software might have. Your system is compromised, and you or your employee, won’t even know it.
At Axiado, our TCU™ platform is redefining cybersecurity with ground-up built, zero-trust, hardware root of trust, and AI-enhanced confidential computing. Our infrastructure is highly scalable from blade servers to rack management and datacenter management, and it secures also the new 5G base stations (RAN/openRAN).
Our TCU™ is built with a ground-up security solution called Secure Vault™ and Secure AI™. This comprehensive solution avoids an endless and often inadequate number of security patches and software upgrades companies have to purchase.
Why do you think companies don’t pay as much attention to their cybersecurity as they should?
There are a number of reasons. I think one of the most important is that companies choose revenue over security, and until recently, it has been difficult to show a bottom-line correlation of how spending on internet security benefits the financial health of a company.
Traditionally, companies have chosen a reactive approach. They look at something that goes wrong and then try to fix it. That means deploying vulnerability patches that can be very costly and might even require shutting down your system. Then, after a patch is made, some or all of the existing system may face incompatibility issues, meaning even more expenses.
Our approach is proactive. We focus on preventing cyberattacks. If you can stop a crime from ever happening, it’s always the best option, rather than dealing with the thieves after they’ve entered your house.
How will you define success for the company?
Bad actors like bank robbers or ransom-seeking kidnappers are no longer attacking their targets physically but have declared a digital war, causing costly disruptions when stealing the key data and IP that our lifelines require to function. If we can stop any of today’s cyberattacks, we can make the world safer. Our future is digitized, and that means, it is nearly fully entwined with our off-line world. If there is disruption in our digital life, it affects our regular, unconnected life.
Axiado has the chance to do something good for the planet with our TCU™ solution. Once we solve the problem of digital security, we can eliminate many of the more than 4,000 ransomware attacks that take place each day. That’s a great deal of positivity we bring to the world.
Because we’re at the hardware level, we also secure the entire security ecosystem for businesses. Our TCU™ prevents side-channel attacks and removes the risk of supply-chain attacks. It’s an inventive way to stop a massive amount of crime that does real harm to people. Once we get there, the positive change we make—which we will see in trends that track cybercrime—will encapsulate the success we want. It’s at that time, when we will have our victory moment and can collectively sigh in relief knowing the bad guys have been shut out at last.