In an interview with Insights Success, the CEO of Fraud.net, R. Whitney Anderson shares valuable insights acquired through his long and rewarding professional journey. This acknowledged industry leader has driven his company’s product offerings to a global scale with his modern and innovative management and operational expertise.
Below are the highlights of the interview conducted between Whitney and Insights Success:
- Give a brief overview of your background and what are you doing now?
My background spans over 25 years in technology, fraud prevention and startups. I started out in international finance, then was recruited by Kroll Associates, a specialist in complex and large-scale fraud, then, for the past 15 years, I’ve been building technology startups to solve big, difficult problems. I currently run Fraud.net, an AI-powered enterprise fraud prevention platform, which I’m really excited about.
The costs associated with cybercrime are projected to reach $8 trillion by 2022. That’s an enormous number, about 5% of all global corporate revenues. It’s one of the biggest and least discussed challenges facing businesses globally, but is especially threatening to e-commerce, travel and financial services companies that operate in the digital world. And to make matters even worse, every dollar lost to fraud is also a dollar that goes to fund the enemy.
US businesses are disproportionately targeted by bad actors, for a number of systemic reasons. But more importantly, companies worldwide need to coordinate their defenses and embrace a collaborative, technology-based approach to fighting fraud. Credit card networks don’t share fraud data so merchants eat the loss and they aren’t given the data necessary to defend themselves. It’s an impossible situation for them. No single company stands a chance against the better capitalized and more technologically-advanced adversaries, so broad-based cooperation is the only viable solution.
- What is your role in the company?
My role in the company is to set our strategic direction, and to make sure we have the resources and ‘A’ players needed to execute our plan. We are deeply involved with our enterprise clients and are becoming the ‘go to’ company to solve the really complicated fraud problems when all other solutions have been exhausted. There is nothing more satisfying than helping big enterprises adopt artificial intelligence to solve some of their thorniest problems – many of which were unsolvable before the machine learning era.
- How do you develop your tech solutions and how are they used by your target audience?
Our technology is used by enterprise risk managers, CFOs and fraud executives, to combat digital fraud. Because the enterprises’ adversaries, both hackers and fraudsters, have become much more sophisticated in the past few years, it is very important that we arm these enterprises with the most powerful, modular and agile tools that exist to contain the problem. While we are constantly testing out new tech approaches, we always try to apply the simplest solution that can solve the problem.
We track over 200 distinct types of digital financial fraud. Certain types of fraud are harder to control than others. For instance, if an enterprise is falling victim to account takeovers, in which the credentials of legitimate customers have been stolen or acquired, we need to install device fingerprinting and behavioral analysis software to begin anti-fraud measures from the moment a suspicious visitor enters the merchant’s website. Having collected billions of patterns, we can pretty quickly differentiate legitimate from malicious visitors.
- Describe some of the vital attributes that every tech individual should possess.
We look for ‘full-stack’ professionals, whether they are developers, data scientists, or sales and customer success executives. In our world, ‘full stack’ means that you are experienced enough to apply your learned skills successfully to a wide range of adjacent problems and solutions. In only hiring full-stack professionals, we can draw from a broader and deeper set of expertise, generate more creativity, and solve tougher problems.
- What were the past experiences, achievements or lessons that shaped your journey?
The best lessons come from adversity, and I’ve certainly learned a lot during tough times. Working at a startup is often idealized in the media, but it’s a difficult road and the people that chose to be entrepreneurs are gluttons for punishment. To get through the tough times, I try to envision the absolute worst case scenario, then ask myself ‘can I live with that?’ Getting clear on what the downside is makes that period less stressful, and the worst case rarely happens.
- Given the ever-increasing, pivotal technological advances, the role of technologists is continually evolving. How, according to you, has this role changed over the years?
Technologists have to be very comfortable with change and uncertainty. It’s a very exciting sector to be in. For the first time there are no real hardware constraints. If you are helping to build a software business, there is almost unlimited potential, and software engineers are limited only by their imagination. Great technologists can keep pace with the changes and can read enough to know what important technologies are around the corner. The best ones are reading, analyzing and testing new technologies obsessively.
- Where do you see yourself in the near future and what are your future goals?
I’m excited every day to work on helping big companies stop fraud, helping them to implement artificial intelligence enrich their data to drive better decisions, and to making their processes more efficient. I consider myself fortunate to be able to work with such smart, capable people. I get to learn new things and feel challenged every day. It’s great.
- Provide one line that best describes your vision and approach to business?
Try different work until you find deeply rewarding work, and when you find it, taking the risks and putting in the effort is easy.
About the CEO
R.Whitney Anderson has been an inspirational figure in the technological sector for many different accomplishments. One previous venture, PlanetRx.com, an e-commerce pioneer, not only found the much-needed ‘turn-around’ strategic direction under his leadership, but also secured millions of dollars in investment to support its rapid growth. His expertise in building startups also proved to be useful for MotherNature.com where he led its revenue growth by over 600% in 6 years, at a compound annual growth rate of over 40%.
Through various challenging journeys, Whitney has acquired a skill for objectively seeing the complex reality of business challenges and finding unique solutions to fuel the growth of various startups. Hence, today, it is not a surprise Fraud.net has achieved a remarkable feat of protecting over 2% of global e-commerce against payment fraud and identity theft. His efforts and vision of the future has earned him numerous accolades, including the prestigious 2017 and 2016 ‘Red Herring Top 100 Award’.