Rebecca 'Becky' Base: From government to guiding security startups

Bace guides startups as a venture capitalist with Trident Capital, while being CEO of network security consultancy Infidel.

Rebecca "Becky" Bace -- Author and CEO, Infidel, Venture Partner, Trident Capital

There's more than one way to influence an industry. Case in point: Becky Bace.

Becky Bace
Becky Bace

During her 16 years at the National Security Agency, Bace helped foster IDSes from a conceptual technology to a leading commercial product. She also provided some of the seed funding for key computer security labs at University of California at Davis and Purdue University. Today, she helps guide startups as a venture capitalist with Trident Capital, while maintaining her role as CEO of network security consultancy Infidel. And, after success as author of Intrusion Detection, she's coauthored another book--A Guide to Forensics Testimony--to help techies testify as expert witnesses.

What makes Bace unique, though, is a little more difficult to quantify.

"Becky is a nurturing influence rarely found in this highly technical playpen," says Jon Brody, VP of marketing at endpoint security vendor Sygate. "Becky makes it easy for us to have adult conversations with senior executives about real business problems, even though she herself is a technology guru."

Being known informally as "den mother of computer security" pleases Bace, whose unscripted career always has encouraged fledgling technologists to find their focus.

"Becky's concerned about the industry as a whole," Brody says. "One senses she doesn't have an agenda but to advance the state of awareness among the community. And it's a little different from where other people come from." Raised with six siblings in Birmingham, Ala., Bace was the only woman in her University of Alabama engineering program in 1973. It would take her eight years of classes at various schools to earn her degree. She married and had a son, Joey, who suffered from autism and later died of leukemia.

The search for a flexible job that allowed her to tend to her ill son led Bace to become project manager for a NSA-sponsored intrusion detection program--a job that remains one of her greatest accomplishments.

"I got to test whether government could remain relevant in areas where things that traditionally government had done were being shifted to the commercial world," she says.

Now living in Santa Cruz, Calif., Bace considers her current job among the most enjoyable in her career.

"I'm not doing much differently than when I was in government, but I've got a lot more control over the outcome. The bucks and the ability to influence are a lot more powerful here, a lot more available."

This was first published in September 2003

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