Ping Identity CEO Durand to Colorado Entrepreneurs: Be Unreasonable

9/18/13Follow @MichaelXBD

Don’t tell Ping Identity co-founder and CEO Andre Durand his company isn’t a startup anymore—especially if you work for him.

And definitely don’t tell Durand you want to buy Ping Identity and take him away from his dream of building a $1 billion company.

I ran into Durand during Denver Startup Week, and he discussed his passion for Denver, Ping Identity’s history, the need for mentorship, and why Colorado companies need to start being unreasonable.

Ping Identity creates network security software the features single sign-on and identity access management capabilities. It has raised a total of $90 million in venture capital since it was founded in 2002, including a $44 million round this summer. Ping Identity employs more than 330 people worldwide and has more than 1,000 clients, including half the Fortune 100. The success has put the company on the path for an IPO in 2014 or 2015.

Here are some highlights from our conversation. Durand’s quotes have been edited for clarity, and an earlier version of this story has been updated to improve the flow and add two clarifications Durand requested.

Is Ping Identity a startup?

“I’ve been asked the question by a lot of employees who say ‘We’re not a startup anymore.’ The hell we’re not a startup anymore. A startup is a state of mind. We’ll be a startup until we say we’re done being a startup. We could be a $1 billion startup going to $10 billion, but we’re a startup.”

Durand later e-mailed to clarify what that would mean.

“It means we have more to do. As long as we’re growing and have aspirations of more, we’ll be a startup in my mind. I’d be proud to be a $1 billion startup going to $10 billion.”

Why get involved in Denver Startup Week?

“I just think there’s a incredible potential for tech in the Denver market, so to be part of all that early startup energy is where the fun is at.”

How Denver has changed since 2002

“The concept of Denver as a place for tech startups was nonexistent back when we started, and now it’s tangible, the feeling that Denver has a tech scene. I would say that we’re beginning to believe.”

One warning and a piece of advice for early stage startups

“Even small decisions can kill a startup. As you get larger, you are insulated from bad decisions, as often you have the wherewithal to survive. With a startup, you’ve really got to be careful in the early formative stages. Seemingly small, innocuous decisions can often lead to an unsuccessful outcome.

“So what do you do to lower risk in those scenarios? … Next Page »

Michael Davidson is the editor of Xconomy Boulder/Denver. He covers startups, venture capital, clean tech, energy, aerospace, telecoms, and whatever else happens above 5,280 feet. Contact him at mdavidson@xconomy.com. Follow @MichaelXBD

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