In the world of digital customer experience software, Tom Wentworth’s been there, done that. Wentworth, now the chief marketing officer for cybersecurity company Recorded Future, spent years in the CMS and digital CX space as a marketing and product leader with vendors like Interwoven, Ektron and Acquia.
Wentworth’s seen the evolution of the web content management software space — and marketing technology as a whole — from inside the vendor arena and now as a practitioner and marketing leader. Known for his unabashed, vocal takes on the space in social media circles and beyond, Wentworth caught up with the CX Decoded Podcast to discuss marketing tactics, marketing leadership and his view on the digital customer experience software space.
Note: This transcript has been edited for space and clarity.
Rich Hein: Welcome to CX decoded Season 2, Episode 1. Season One is in the books and we’re thrilled to be kicking off season two today. I’m back with my co-host, Dominic Nicastro, senior reporter at CMSWire. How are you doing, Dom?
Dom Nicastro: Good. Rich brought me back for season 2. Thanks for doing that. I appreciate it. I must have done a few things right.
Rich: Don’t get too far ahead of yourself. You know, you’ve got to keep it up for another season.
Dom: Deal. No problem. Season two, man. I’m ready, Rich. What’s cool about Season 2, this opening show guest. He’s been in the trenches of marketing technology, web content management software for more than a decade, actually, on the vendor side, the practitioner side. He’s a coder. I feel like we’re kind of pulling him back into SaaS. We missed him very, very much. So let’s introduce him with our little Guests Rapid Fire, shall we, Rich?
Rich: Let’s do it. You mentioned he’s a coder at heart. But one of the things that I just wanted to really quickly say is that I know he’s got a deep and rich background in the content management systems arena. So I’m really excited to delve into a little bit of that. So yeah, Dom, let’s definitely do it.
Dom: So who is this guy, Rich?
Rich: This guy’s name is Tom Wentworth. He’ll be joining us today.
Dom: All right, what’s his title?
Rich: He is the chief marketing officer at Recorded Future.
Dom: Why do we have this guy on?
Rich: We want to get the real scoop on all things marketing, technology, leadership, and the evolution of content management systems and CMS.
Dom: Alright, that works for me. Tom, how are you, buddy?
Tom Wentworth: Good. I didn’t know I’d be kicking off the second season. So I’m a little bit nervous to make sure that your audience finds value. However, I promise you as always, I will be incredibly controversial and opinionated. So I feel like maybe I was the right guest for Season 2, Episode 1.
Rich: So we thought we could start with your background. And you’ve been through it all with companies during the heyday of web CMS. And now with a cybersecurity company. Can you tell us about your past roles and your new role?
Tom: The quick overview is I went to school for math and computer science. I went to the University of Illinois where the first web browser mosaic was developed. I think I had my first website in 1993. For a very brief period of time, I hosted the definitive Phish, the band. There wasn’t a Phish tour dates page in ’93, for obvious reasons, and I created it.
So I’ve been on the web forever. I’ve actually spent almost two decades in the CMS arena back in the old days at a pioneer called Interwoven and more recently at Acquia. So I’ve sort of seen the whole end to end evolution of the website going from, you know, one page with a bunch of blinking text to obviously what has become today. So looking forward to this conversation.
Now, cybersecurity, for me is brand new. I happened to time it perfectly in the sense that we’re sort of at an unprecedented time of cyber attacks every day. There’s a new ransomware attack in the news and my current company Recorded Future, we sit at the center of that. So it’s a great place to be on one hand. On the other hand, obviously, there’s a lot of significant damage being caused by cyber attacks right now. So I feel proud that my company gets to help play a role in protecting against all of these adversaries.
Dom: So we’re excited time to really dive into that world of CMS first and talk about the evolution. You’re such a veteran in that space. And now that you’re out of it, you can be even more so candid, now that you’re not representing a vendor in that space.
Tom: Kinda. I did just join the board of a vendor called dotCMS. But, you know, I will certainly be candid; that is not will not be an issue.
Dom. Good. He brought us candor. That’s why he’s here. So Tom, we’ve talked to marketing leaders, CMOs, about what COVID has done in their roles in marketing leadership and how things have been upended for you and your role and your company. So give us a scoop on what the past 20 months has been like.
Tom: Yeah, I joined here a couple of months before COVID. So in December 2019 and obviously come March 2020, the world was switched upside down. It’s especially challenging in cybersecurity because most cybersecurity companies are heavily events-based. There are some big events like RSA and Black Hat. There’s lots of regional boutique events, there’s lots of golf sponsorships. The cyberspace has traditionally been heavily focused on events. And a big part of our budget going into 2020 was, of course, also attached to events. And all of a sudden, almost overnight, all of that went away.
Like within a 30 day period, we had to entirely restructure the team entirely restructure the budget, figure out what we were going to do to make up for the 30% of our pipeline that used to come from physical events no longer happened. I’m proud to say that we actually had a great year in 2020, in spite of COVID, obviously, I think the increase in overall cyber played a little bit of role in that. But my team did an amazing job having to effectively give up a third of what we used to do, and figure something new out. And obviously, the new we figured out was digital. And some things were net new for us some things we just tried to do a little bit better. But it was a scary time to be a marketer.
Rich: It seems like with the increase in digital adoption, that there would just be so many new attack surfaces that a security agency would have to deal with. I am curious to know in that timeframe, what were the biggest challenges that you had to deal with, aside from you know, coming up with a new business model.
Tom: The thing that we did that I’m maybe most proud of, and we should maybe talk about a little bit later is we built a news property. As CMSWire is the digital experience industry, we are to the cyber world. So we went out in COVID, thinking, what are some things that we can do that are net new that are sort of maybe not what other companies are doing.
So while everyone else is out there sponsoring F1 cars and doing things that cybersecurity companies do, we had the idea to come up with our own new site called The Record. And we went out and hired some of the best reporters who reported for other news publications on cyber, we hired them onto our team, and we built around new site.
So I think the thing that was maybe most revolutionary for us in COVID, was we spun up an entire new site. And we’re just about now a year later, and this new site is absolutely crushing it. I don’t know what your traffic is probably can’t share it with me. And I don’t know if I can share my traffic with you. But it’s in the hundreds of 1,000s of users a month coming to our site. And it’s such an amazing asset for the company to have, we have our own new site with incredible reporters that came because of COVID frankly.
Rich: I think that every organization should be looking at how they can create content that delivers value. And it sounds like you guys have done a really good job of that.
Tom: And it’s not even content. That’s where I think it fails. There’s two ways you can go with this. You can hire reporters. I can hire Dom at my company, who’s a great reporter. And then I can tell Dom, you got to write a bunch of marketing content and Dom would fail. If I said, Dom, you come over here and write stories just like you would if you’re a real reporter. That’s what we’ve done. Like we run this business, church and state, there is zero marketing oversight over what our reporters write about. They write as if they work for the Wall Street Journal.
They’re out there, finding sources, breaking news, covering news, but they’re doing it without the burden of having to be marketers. They don’t even consider themselves working on the marketing team at Recorded Future. They’re on The Record team. So we made a very specific choice not to think of this as a marketing investment. But really, we’re going to build a news organization. And the model we use is Bloomberg. So where do we want to be the Bloomberg of cyber just like Bloomberg sells terminals, but has a news team. You know, we want to do the same.
Dom: Tom, you guys said you hired a bunch of reporters and stuff like that. That’s great. It’s a great tactic. But what about those companies that can’t afford to do that, but they still want to build up their content, they still want to use it as a business asset and provide business value, meet business objectives, get hundreds of 1,000s of people to your site. That’s amazing. What are some ways marketers, you know, CMOs can think about doing that where they might not have the budget to just create a news site?
Tom: To be very clear: In the early days, the budget for this was the one guy we hired named Adam Janofsky. So the initial investment was the cost of: we use the $39 WordPress theme that we’re no longer using. But we literally went out and bought a $39 WordPress theme. We put a little bit of customization work into it. We hired a reporter and we said, Adam, go write some stories.
So in some ways, it actually wasn’t, other than hiring one person, we spent almost nothing. Now we’ve hired more reporters since, but still we do no advertising. The only cost that we have in the Record property is just people. In our case news works incredibly well because we’re writing about cybersecurity, which is a newsworthy topic, and maybe not all industries have newsworthy topics, but I think reporters like Dom take a different approach to content. They’re out there trying to tell a story in a way that most marketers don’t. I think reporters have some unique DNA and how they approach writing that’s different than how marketers approach writing. I really, really like the idea of hiring reporters and then letting them actually do reporting. And don’t tell them to write a “Buzzfeed Five Reasons Why Digital Experiences are Awesome.” I think that’s where it fails to me.
Dom: In terms of the inbound traffic that you get from that new site, how does that happen? Is there a lot of you know, email pushes? Is it a lot of SEO? combination of both? is one source of inbound traffic like overwhelming the other? And then secondly, how are you using that content in terms of like conversion, sales, that kind of thing? Or is that even happening?
Tom: These are great questions. So the first is, traffic comes from all sorts of places. For example, we recently wrote an article about a Twitch source code being leaked on 4chan. And that happened to become a story where we got a crazy amount of organic traffic. And I think if you type in Twitch, 4chan, we ranked number one for that.
So by nature of what we do, we’ve had some stories that are just get incredible organic traffic, and we also get a lot of referral traffic from places like Reddit. We get a lot of referral traffic from places like Hacker News. So you know, these are places where people talk often about cybersecurity, our reporters have big audiences. So in our hiring process, we also looked at, hey, who are the reporters in cyber, who already have audiences, so that sort of helped us bootstrap the audience.
And I think that was pretty smart. We get a lot of social referral traffic. So we post stuff on usual places, Facebook and LinkedIn, we have a newsletter with about 15,000 subscribers that we send out Sunday night that drive some traffic, it’s kind of all of those things working together.
But where we see massive spikes is either when we break news, and we’ve had this happen, we had it happen today: We’ll break some news to the Record, and the Washington Post will cover it, or The Wall Street Journal will cover it. So we get a lot of our fall traffic on those days, or it’ll be this massive story. And we just rank incredibly well organically for it.
Rich: The one question I have is, when you began all this, what was the end game goal? Was it thought leadership? I’m just curious to know what the genesis was?
Tom: And I didn’t answer your question either on how do I monetize this? And the answer is, I really don’t. We don’t use this site to run banner ads to pitch Recorded Future webinars. The only connection back to Recorded Future that we have through the Record site, is we have some related research that’s done by our own research team. If the Record writes a story about China we’ll show some related research from Recorded Future about China. So that’s the only real connection. We think that there’s enough monetization, quote, unquote, that comes from getting our brand associated with high quality news.
My dream scenario, and this happens frequently, is a client or prospect will tell us, hey, I love the fact that you have these reporters, I love the stories you’re writing, I trust Recorded Future because of the news stories that you’re surfacing. So we don’t have to make money from the Record, we don’t make money. We don’t do any advertising. We don’t have any direct response metrics that we look at. I simply look at, is my audience growing? Is my traffic growing? Is my newsletter growing? And I feel like if those are happening, then we’re good. And my boss, our CEO, who’s a huge fan of Bloomberg, it wasn’t a huge sell for him to do this, because he loves Bloomberg, and we’re building the Bloomberg or cyber and that’s sort of the model we’re going after.
Dom: That was gonna be my next question. You’re not monetizing this? How in the world did you get support for this from upstairs?
Rich: Right? I mean, I have the same question because, again, I think this goes back to chicken and egg scenario. Editorial’s always been kind of seen as a cost center, as opposed to a revenue generator.
Tom: I have the unique advantage of we make money through selling a SaaS platform. We’ve got ways to make money at Recorded Future. I look at this as a brand building activity. I think a lot of security companies will build brand by sponsoring F1 cars, or getting airport billboards or doing whatever. And I feel like for us, what’s more authentic was, look, I’m not going to go do an F1 car sponsorship. What I am going to do is hire three or four or five reporters, and we’re going to build a Bloomberg of cyber. That wasn’t a hard sell.
So I think it’s a little bit unique in my world, and I have other products to sell, so I don’t need to monetize. But now that we are a little more than a year into this, I think it would be really hard to copy our strategy. So I feel really good about taking that risk. And now we have this durable asset, where you know, the F1 sponsorship goes away or the billboard gets taken down. We’re gonna keep growing our audience, and I don’t think we’re far away from having a million users a month come to our site and think that’s going to be incredible.
Rich: One of the areas that we closely cover on CMSWire, of course, is content management systems. Tom, with your experience in this space, can you talk a little bit about the evolution of CMS starting way back in the day with tech like Ektron, and Fatwire and Day Software, and moving it into today’s landscape?
Tom: Yes, I started my career back in 2000 at Interwoven, and ironically, I used to give Interwoven an incredible amount of crap when I was at competitors, it was just so easy to pick on them. But as I take a step back and look at the technology that we built, what is now en vogue, I’m currently redoing the Recorded Future site, we’re going to do headless and, and we’re going to use this is actually breaking news here, by the way, but we’re going to use a platform called Strapi as our CMS, a sort of very new fancy headless back end.
But like the Interwoven architecture circa 2000 is literally perfectly suited for what companies need to do today. I think the architecture and the underpinnings are a little bit dated, but the problem you’re trying to solve is exactly the same problems being solved today. I think that it’s ironic that you went from these early innovators like interwoven to the Ektron, Fatwire, and the big innovation was that we were going to couple our CMS to our delivery. So we were going to say the same database you’re editing your content in is going to be the same database that’s going to serve that content up to clients.
And the entire world flipped in about 2008 through 2013, or 14, with all these CMSes is like electron and Sitecore, and Fatwire and others with this approach. And then we realized, Oh my God, that’s a terrible approach. Because the CMSes aren’t super secure. It’s really hard to scale things with that approach. There’s all these modern front end design languages the CMS has don’t support.
It’s interesting to see the entire market is now kind of shifted all the way back to what Interwoven was trying to do back when I started. And the technologies are now better. But I think one of the reasons why some of these legacy not maybe not legacy, but the Adobe’s and Sitecore’s and others of the world are frankly, not quite as relevant, because I just think this new back to basics approach is a better choice for most organizations, and certainly it is for Recorded Future.
Dom: Yeah, Tom, we’re looking a lot at organizations and marketers trying to capitalize on the decoupling and headless systems, you know, separating that presentation layer. So it sounds like you’re doing that, as a marketing leader in your own organization, I would love some tips to marketers out there and why that’s important for you for your team, and how they might be able to take advantage of something like that, if that works for them.
Rich: I just want to also add that I’m really interested to know how you make that move from just the monolithic architecture, because that gets woven into everything that you do as an organization. So how do you break away and move to these more headless and composable architectures.
Tom: You pay an agency a ton of money to do it for you. But I’ll come back to that. So today, recorded future uses WordPress. And we host WordPress on Pantheon, we put Cloudflare in front of it so that when we inevitably, someone tries to DDoS us or, you know, we want to scale more pretty typical architecture, right?
I work for a security company. We are incredibly concerned about our own security of our applications. And frankly, the WordPress-Pantheon combo is not as secure as we want it to be. So one of the big drivers for going headless for us was around security. And the fact that we can ultimately pre-generate flat files serve flat files out of the CDN or out of an s3 bitbucket, and then put Cloudflare on top of that creates a much better security story.
And I’m oversimplifying the architecture, but that’s roughly speaking, what we want to do. So the number one driver for Recorded Future for this architecture was really security number one, speed number two, because vast sites are just so much more pleasant to visit, we want to be fast. So we think that’s a big benefit.
And I think the third benefit is around the editorial experience. But it’s not the primary benefit. Like I think Strapi is great. I think the headless CMS is because what they do is they abstract away all the clutter, they just really focus on a really great editorial experience. And that’s important for us, but not nearly as important as security and speed. So my team is we publish a ton of content, obviously, but they’re most excited about security and speed.
Rich: Google has taken a big interest in site usability and all organizations should be paying close attention to their mobile speed numbers because it will impact the amount of traffic you get.
Tom: Yeah. And to answer your question on you know, so what we have to move from is a classic WordPress theme. So our site today is a custom WordPress theme. And it’s a mess of your typical WordPress garbage code. It’s not the fault of our team. WordPress makes it hard to build a clean site, but it’s a mess of WordPress plugins, theme customization, CSS, all the usual stuff. So we’re working with an agency partner who’s going to help us build, you know, a brand new React front end. So the heavy lifting for this new architecture isn’t so much on the Strapi side, it isn’t so much on training our contributors to learn how to add content; it’s that we do have to build a from-scratch React site to be able to present our content. And that is definitely not easy.
Dom: And this all ties into Tom, the emergence of the famous DXP, digital experience platform.
Tom: Don’t get me started.
Dom: Tom, what do you mean, you were at a vendor in the past who loved it and still loves it? So this emerged, what would you say maybe five, six years ago, seven, the term?
Tom: I think it was longer than that I can actually remember the first Forrester Wave for digital experience platforms that was created by my old colleague, David Aponovich. I think it was like circa 2014.
Dom: So that came out, and the definitions have changed and evolved and what these things actually are. Some bluntly say, they don’t exist. Like the actual platform, digital experience platform doesn’t exist. And like it’s actually an amalgamation of a bunch of digital customer experience tools like DAM, CMS, all kind of wrapped into one. And it’s so here’s the bottom line question. Tom. Do DXPs exist? Or is it a marketing term?
Tom: They do not exist, they are not a thing. And Tony Byrne of Real Story Group would probably give me a virtual pat on the back to hear me say that. But I think the dream of it exists, like we want a series of tools that work together to help us deliver a better experience to our digital channels. Of course, that dream exists.
But as a technology platform, we’re no closer to having that solved than we were 10 years ago when Aponovich came up with the idea at Forrester, right? I think the problem is, first of all, it’s hard to do that. And just owning a bunch of disparate products that solve parts of it doesn’t solve the problem, it just actually creates even more complexity.
I’ll pick on Sitecore for a minute. They tried to build all of these products from scratch to solve these really hard problems when you had then pure plays like Omniture, trying to do great analytics and Marketo, trying to do great marketing automation and Drupal trying to build a great CMS. Sitecore’s having to compete against all these best of breed things. So they’re coming to market with this DXP offering that looks really good on a slide. But when you get into what it can actually do, it doesn’t work. And I would argue that we’re not even though we’ve seen Adobe, buy every major company, and Aquia buy a bunch of companies and Optimizely buy a bunch of companies, I don’t think we’re much beyond what Sitecore tried to do. These were a bunch of loosely integrated tools that don’t really solve the problem they’re designed to solve.
So I love DXP, the concept, I don’t like the way it’s been executed. I don’t think any vendor is all that far ahead here. I think the only vendor that’s maybe a little bit ahead is Adobe, just because of the brand recognition of their component parts.
Dom: Yeah, it seems to me like marketers on the ground, don’t go in to a demo, saying I like to buy a digital experience platform.
Tom: No. … The customer says, I want to buy a CMS, and they give you some requirements. And they say, all right, show me how to build a press release, show me how to build a landing page. So you know, you build that demo, and you show that demo to the customer.
But then you say, well, let me show you this. Let me show you how you can then run some AB test behind it. Let me show you some analytics. What about setting up an email campaign? What about starting in Adobe Illustrator and like getting some new images in, right? Vendors try to change the requirements of the buyer in a way that positions uniquely what they have to offer. So the buyers now who started with I just really want a great way to publish some content because that’s what really matters, are now making decisions on features that an hour ago they weren’t interested in, because they saw this amazing vendor demo, now they are like. That’s how that stuff gets sold. And then when it gets implemented, we get back to the reality of oh, these things don’t actually work the way we thought they did.
Rich: It comes back to tying these things straight to business objectives. And a lot of organizations overlook that.
Tom: Yeah. Agreed.
Rich: Yeah, as Tom’s talking rich, I’m thinking, is there another SaaS CMO that left SaaS and can talk about SaaS? Because this is gold.
Tom: I’m literally never going to get a job in this industry ever again. So I’ve burned my reputation. Although Tony Byrne now loves me so I can go work for Real Story Group. So we’re good.
I’m going to give you this, I think where the battle is being fought right now. And this is why I am excited to be a part of dotCMS. I think it’s the developers. I think the mistake of the modern DXP world was assuming that marketers are making the decisions, that marketers have the teams to do this. I think ultimately why Contentful is doing incredibly well right now is because developers are actually way more important than anyone gave them credit for. And developers want APIs. Developers want frameworks; developers want integrations.
And while all these companies are fighting over all these DXP things that no one uses, Contentful, and others came in and said, let’s just build a really great developer experience. I think the next battle is going to be back to basics, where do developers want to write code. And that’s who’s going to win, I don’t think the battle is going to be won in marketing anymore. And I don’t think it ever was, I think that was always a bit of a myth.
Rich: I don’t want to go too far down the rabbit hole. But while we’re talking in this vein, how do you think that low code is going to impact marketers?
Tom: Low code is great. This is where Acquia is doing great. And they bought a product that became what’s called Acquia Site Studio now. And it’s amazing. It turns Drupal, which it can be pretty hard to do meaningful things with, into like drag and drop like WordPress. WordPress has always had these page builders, that if you install a page building plugin, you can do pretty cool drag and drop stuff, right? And a lot of commercial CMSes have always had this: Ektron had it, Sitecore has it, Adobe has it.
But the low code movement, if you will, that excites me. Because I want to have developers who can enable me, but I also do want marketers who don’t have to go write React code every time they want to change something in a landing page. So I think low code is the right way to think about it. I think the myth though, is there’s a no code, like that’s the myth. Low code, though 100% agree. That’s that’s where the future is to.
Dom: Tom, thank you for getting into the evolution of CMS, we appreciate it, we got about 10 minutes or so here. So I want to spend the last part talking about your own personal branding, how you put yourself out there, you’re very unique. You’re not like the CMOs, I usually come across CMOs, usually just kind of stay behind their PR agency and look for opportunities to talk to journalists here and there, and they do their thing. You are out there. Let me let me read a couple of your recent LinkedIn posts. There’s a special place for people who fill out a demo request with garbage data. Here’s another one. Whenever I see VP of Sales and Marketing as someone’s title, I take a mental note to remember that I never want to work at that company. 202 likes that’s the last time I’ve seen it. 50-plus comments.
So listen, you say what’s on your mind clearly as everyone listening to this podcast can attest to, but you get engagement. No doubt. What’s the goal there, Tom of being out there stating your case just basically blabbing and saying what’s on your mind?
Tom: It’s obvious. It’s pure ego, ego manipulation, ego boost. Those are things I plan, like just something hits my brain. And I just go on LinkedIn and write it. Most of my posts get zero likes and zero engagement.
I do think it’s important to build a brand. I think it’s important that you have something to say, say it. I think you guys have something to say I have something to say. I find LinkedIn to be a great place to say. I really don’t use Twitter that much anymore. Twitter was where I would get in fights with my competitors on Twitter all the time, maybe that was a bit immature. I would fight my good friend Darren from Sitecore. And he and I have now become friends since that. But we’d get these epic Twitter battles. I’ve matured since then.
But I try to share advice just because I’ve been doing this for a while maybe sometimes the stuff I say might resonate with somebody, I do it to troll every once in a while. I do some subtweeting every once in a while, but it’s I don’t know, maybe it’s more I just want to try to help some people with a tiny bit of the ego thing I said maybe.
Dom: But you also to the point of getting out there. You also have a podcast to Scaleup Marketing where you know nothing to do a Recorded Future, nothing to do with your company. You just go on there. You talk to marketing folks, you talk about marketing, sometimes it’s just us solo talking about marketing, attribution data, things like that. So you’re obviously passionate about your role. So what’s the goal there? Like, you know, your own podcast?
Tom: I love talking. I like talking to you guys. I’ve been doing this for a long time. I got a lot of stuff to say. And I think a podcast is I think I said this once in this podcast, even if no one listens, and I think barely anyone does. It’s actually fun even just to get my thoughts out, and it forces you to think through. If you’re gonna do a podcast and have people actually try to understand what you’re doing, you’ve got to think through it a little bit. It’s a good way to structure what you want to think about a topic.
Rich: We’re getting close to time here, you’re in a unique position, having been a CMO and now working on the security side of things. I’m just curious to know your thoughts on, specific to marketing, what are what are the biggest security challenges out there? I mean, me personally, I think I’m concerned with ransomware. You know, it’s happened to businesses locally to where I live. So I know it’s a real thing. So I’m just curious to know what your thoughts are on that.
Tom: I mean, I have a new appreciation. So it’s incredibly difficult to buy software at Recorded Future. So I just can’t go out. Let’s say I want to buy a tool like Drift, or I want to buy a new CMS like Strapi. I can’t just go out and buy the product, right? I’ve got to put file a Jira ticket. Our security team is going to go and do an incredibly exhaustive review of the technology I’m looking to purchase.
And on one hand, it makes it painful because what for most of my peers would be 10-minute thing now might take me three weeks. But I’ve learned that you know, now that I have more insight into how risky … the reality is the biggest attack vectors that are used by adversaries … Drupal and WordPress are two of the most targeted technologies on the planet, right. Every other week, we see some vulnerable WordPress plugin get exploited. And there are massive consequences.
And ransomware … you get hacked by ransomware, you’re paying potentially millions to get out of it. But even just brand reputation, right? What’s the impact if your credentials are stolen? What’s the impact if your website is defaced? These are significant brand moments. So I have now fear and respect for the people who try to defend me from making stupid decisions. I feel incredibly lucky that I’ve got a team of people who are out there making sure that my site is secure, or as secure as it can be. I’ve learned there’s no such thing is 100% security, right? But marketing technologies are among the most exploited pieces of software. And it takes a really deliberate effort to protect because you forget to patch that WordPress server, and two weeks later, there might be a nation state adversary out there stealing your credentials. Happens all the time.
Dom: Tom, we’re going to say something, and you tell us “hot or not.” Artificial intelligence.
Tom: Hot. The future. I’ve worked in this industry for a little bit. I think with the caveat of there’s a difference between AI as a buzzword and the actual practical applications of it in the real world. But, you know, machine learning is what I would call it not AI. And here’s what I’d say AI not, machine learning hot.
Dom: Your website.
Tom: Mine right now is not, about to be hot, though. It’ll be hot in a month or so.
Dom: Mobile website.
Tom: Not. I think mobile is a form factor. I don’t know that people are visiting websites and consuming content the way they do on desktops or tablets. I think I consume more of my content in other social networks than I do on people’s websites these days. So not.
Dom: Mobile app.
Tom: Hot. How come the sort of ubiquity of I can build an iOS app and run it everywhere. I can build a better user experience, it’s going to be faster, you know, it’s gonna have activity. I think you’re just seeing more innovation happening in the app world. Like you can’t do a Tik Tok competitor on a website as an example. Not that I haven’t even have a Tik Tok account, but it’s a different paradigm through apps.
Dom: Email marketing.
Tom: Crazily enough, hot. Like our email database at Recorded Future drives an insane amount of our business. And I think it’s hot. I think the perception is that you know, email is dead, but email is still the best lowest common denominator to reach people.
Dom: And one final one: social media.
Tom: I mean, it’s hard. It’s hard like I literally have not spent a minute on Tik Tok. My 8-year-old daughter tries to get on and might cautiously let her watch one thing. But the amount of what’s happening with people a lot younger than us on these channels is absolutely insane. And I sort of feel like there could be a world in 10 years where I’m learning about B2B SaaS products through someone’s Tik Tok account. And I sort of feel like that inevitably is going to happen.