As part of our regular Employee Spotlight Series highlighting members of the Styra team, we can't wait for you to meet our new Vice President of Business Development, Ben Rice!
Ben has been in the cybersecurity field since 2001, but his interest in tech started when he was just a kid coding on an Apple II Plus. Graduating from Loyola Law School in Los Angeles at the start of the tech boom, he began his career in tech as general counsel for Ositis Software, Inc. Making the transition from law to business development early in his career, he shifted his focus to building successful partnership ecosystems for companies, such as Blue Coat Systems, Egnyte, Centrify, and Bitglass. We are so excited for Ben to bring his extensive experience to Styra!
What drew you to Styra?
Start-ups can be a lot like a rollercoaster with all of the quick ups and downs, so you want to make sure you have a great team around you making the ride a fun one. The downs are much easier to manage when you are working with a team of positive, genuine people. I like to keep things light, even when they are looking a bit dark. It helps if I am not the only one cracking a joke in the office. :)
I’ve had the privilege of working with a few Styra team members in the past, and thought, “If these hard-working, ethical and fun people are a part of the Styra team, then it is going to be a company that I can fit into and have a successful program .” This is a team that will let me be myself and understands who I am, which is one of the most important things to me at the end of the day.
What excites you the most about your new role and Styra?
I’m excited to join Styra as it is building up its partner ecosystem. It’s great to see open-source, commercial and tech partners all working together to build a system where everyone benefits. And, joining the team now allows me to be a big part of continuing to shape that ecosystem and how Styra is viewed in the community. It is an interesting challenge that I am excited to take on!
Do you think business development at an open source company is different from a traditional SaaS company?
I think there are two main differences between business development for an open source company and a traditional SaaS company:
1. Open source is much easier to access. All you need to access open source technology is an internet browser and the code, while traditional software products require permission and perhaps payment to use commercial software. The physical steps required for a company to experience the product create a big barrier in getting people to adopt. Open source companies have removed this barrier.
2. Open source companies have an amazing community behind them that enriches the experience.
How do you hope to grow Business Development at Styra?
I want to make an impact on the growth of the company in a measurable way, like by helping increase our revenue growth. In general, the more companies and people who become advocates for Styra and share our message will be a sign that things are heading in the right direction. Styra should be at the forefront of people’s minds when it comes to all things authorization.
When you have thirty minutes of free time, how do you pass the time?
Most likely reading about geology. It has been a lifelong interest of mine since I do a lot of hiking, climbing and camping. Wherever I am, I find myself wondering "why is that...?" or "how did this...?" and I’d never get an answer. It hit me during the Covid-19 pandemic that I could find the answers to all of these questions myself. Ever since then I have been reading everything I can on the subject.
Favorite place to camp?
Any place in California! One of my favorites used to be Butano State Park which was full of redwoods and near the beach.
If you had to work, but you didn't need the money, what would you do?
This is it. I don't work for fun, but if work is fun it's a great way to spend your time and be with people you enjoy being with outside of your family.
Favorite current television show or movie?
The new Sopranos movie, The Many Saints of Newark. I am a big Sopranos fan, and recently even asked my wife to rewatch the whole series with me. I have probably watched the series four times all the way through!