TROPT Webcast Pilot E1: The Privacy Tech Landscape

September 23, 2020

We’re thrilled to have had overwhelming feedback and inquiries about what’s next since our inaugural Summit in June!

Among many other things, we’re testing The Rise of Privacy Tech webcast–if you like it or have ideas, please let us know by emailing us at

The webcast’s main goal is to feature key players in the privacy tech space given our mission, which is to fuel privacy innovation by bringing together privacy tech innovators, investors, advisors, and advocates to bridge the privacy tech-capital-expertise gaps.

We’ll be publishing episode video recordings and notes, beginning with this episode 1.

Episode Description

TROPT Founder, Lourdes M. Turrecha, welcomed Michelle Finneran-Dennedy (CEO, The iDennedy Project) and Melanie Ensign (CEO, Discernible, Inc.) as the first guests of the series. They discussed the privacy tech landscape, pulling from their combined decades of privacy expertise plus their current work as operators, advisors, founders, and consultants in privacy tech.

Some Episode Takeaways

  • Privacy tech on the rise: The speakers are long-time privacy professionals who have turned to the privacy tech landscape as founders, advisors, and consultants after observing the nascent privacy tech landscape’s rise. Each of them have witnessed the increasing number of privacy tech founders and investors who are reaching out for advice on privacy problems that are solvable through tech solutions.
  • The distinction between privacy and security: The speakers shared one common major pitfall that many of the privacy startups they’ve engaged with make: they conflate privacy and security solutions. It’s important to understand the distinction because it will help founders refine their messaging and reach the appropriate customer. Privacy tech founders and investors should recognize whether the tool they’re building or investing in is truly a privacy tool, or a security tool, or both, before prematurely branding them as such.

Information privacy is concerned with the collection, use, dissemination, retention, and other processing of personal information, including the associated individual rights that empower individuals to take control over their personal information. Whereas, information security is concerned with the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of information (not just personal information, but also trade secrets, intellectual property, and other information that warrants securing) and the systems that process such information. The two domains intersect: privacy requires that personal information be secured during its entire lifecycle — from collection and use, to transit, storage, and destruction. But the privacy domain covers a breadth of inquiries beyond security, such as transparency (notice and consent), data minimization, purpose specification, individual rights, etc.

  • Privacy tech beyond compliance: The funding focus and activity in privacy tech has primarily been in the B2B space, oftentimes on compliance tools, especially in light of GDPR and CCPA. This means that there is a whole lot of innovation waiting to happen and opportunity waiting in non-compliance privacy tech solutions.
  • Biggest privacy problems: Micky brings up bad data and Melanie raises shadow IT (the unknown unknowns) as biggest privacy problems they’re seeing.
  • Privacy is a wicked problem. A wicked problem is never solved. Privacy problems are wicked problems because once you solve one aspect, you’re inevitably creating another.
  • The privacy tech tools or features we wish existed: It would be neat if we could get ahead of the privacy issues in neurotechnology and design it in a way that honors our privacy preferences, instead of invading our deepest thoughts and ideas, the ultimate privacy violation. So, Elon Musk, if you’re reading, please get ahead of this privacy problem and hire privacy engineers at Neuralink. 
  • Predictions about privacy tech: Privacy tech is still at its nascency and the speakers predict that the industry is going to explode, but in a good way. For the first time in history, founders, technologists, investors, regulators, consumers, and enterprise customers are in agreement with privacy experts, advocates, and evangelists that we need privacy innovation. An increasing demand for privacy designed and engineered tools accompanies this fortuitous timing. In turn, we’ve also seen an uptick in technologists and founders respond to solve these glaring privacy problems and seize the resulting market opportunities.
  • Advice for those who want to become privacy tech founders, investors, and advisors: Think about what you’re building and the privacy problem you’re trying to solve. Note that compliance is not the goal. Privacy is not about compliance; it’s about people. Be strategic about how you create a privacy tech tool that resonates with the marketplace without compromising privacy.

Episode Links