Interview with John Myers, CEO, IDVerse
Can you walk us through your journey to becoming CEO of IDVerse?
Becoming IDVerse CEO has been an incredible journey. For the last 25 years, I’ve built a business that helps other businesses grow. One of the things that I did in the early days of my career is launch a venture-build business alongside our consulting business. It was only small, consisting of 150 people in seven countries. It was designed so that we could invest in founders who had a cultural fit and alignment with us. It meant we could put our arms around them, share our skills and embark on the same adventure with them.
Then, around 13 or 14 years ago, two young men, Matthew Adams and Daniel Aiello (OCR Labs Co-founders), came into my office because they wanted help setting up their business properly. Fast-forward a few years and Matt and Dan were looking to move on from that venture. We sat down and they said to me ‘we want to build the world’s greatest verification technology, and we want you to build the business around us’, so they could focus on the tech while I ran the operational side of things.
I was flattered. And, even though I couldn’t quite grasp their tech proposition, they used big words in their PowerPoint presentation and made the slides really easy to understand, so that definitely helped! And that was the start of OCR Labs, now IDVerse.
As the business grew and we took hold in Asian-Pacific (APAC) markets, it became clear to me that this wasn’t a fractional or part-time role. I was too engaged in the business to let anyone else be a part of it other than myself. I felt a responsibility as the custodian of these guys’ tech, so I removed myself from my main business, and put different people in charge of the venture-build business while I continued to manage what was then OCR Labs, and I’m still here to this day.
Why the change from OCR Labs to IDVerse?
It was actually hard for us to shift away from OCR Labs. It was something we were quite emotionally invested in, but we felt the name didn’t quite reflect the full extent of what we could offer to our customers. What’s more, the identity verification space has changed so much since OCR Labs was launched. Fraudsters are becoming smarter, they’ve got more ammunition in their armoury. So we made the change to IDVerse to reflect the expanding marketplace – it allows us to really state what the product is: a universal identity verification service.
Where do you see the greatest need for identity verification services?
Fraud is growing everywhere, so in that sense, the need for an IDVerse is only getting stronger. Our engines are now fired up with generative AI to deal with growing fraud use cases. What that means is that they learn organically how to be stronger and better, to protect people and help the user experience be a little bit more seamless. And I think it's our use of this AI that’s so important at the moment. Fraudsters have all kinds of abilities to use deep fakes, they’re not scared to try any means necessary. We have a deep fake defender that’s been in production for four or five years, and our customers can get that as part of their package.
Bringing customers on board quickly and seamlessly is something the industry needs to pay close attention to. It instils greater trust in the product, and it’s important for clients with data breaches occurring everywhere. Particularly today, biometric verification by means of facial recognition is a crucial piece to help solve some of those issues.
What keeps you motivated in the hunt for success?
The first thing that motivates me is making sure there is constant capacity in our tech to keep people safe, helping businesses change the way they operate so they and their customers are both protected. To do this plays into my second motivation, because people always say the security requirements they need can’t be achieved. I love to prove people wrong, which, for the most part, is proving the worth of our technology.
Internally at IDVerse, what motivates me is the ability I have to change people's lives and be the custodian of this fantastic project. I love growing businesses and growing people. It's people that drive businesses forward. For me, this is the most soul-nourishing experience anyone could have.
What challenges does your role throw at you day-to-day?
Given that we’ve tripled in size in a very short amount of time, my biggest challenge now is making sure we keep cultural alignment, especially when we have teams growing at an equal pace across different regions across the globe. It definitely keeps things interesting. Offices in different time zones mean I find myself in different time zones quite often!
So for me, keeping everyone aligned, spirited and driven in the same direction is probably the biggest challenge I have day-to-day.
Is there one piece of advice that’s stuck without you throughout your career?
I was told in my early career that I could be more than one thing, which has been sound advice as it’s helped me expand my role and the businesses I’m involved with. But the one thing that has really stuck with me is a phrase spray painted as graffiti in a tunnel near Sydney Harbour: “action is eloquent”.
This really stuck with me. For me, it means just do what you say you're going to do. Be pragmatic, and get whatever it is you need to do done. And I’ve carried that forward with me ever since.
How would you describe yourself in three words?
What was your dream job as a child?
Well, as a kid I had very little sense of what I wanted to be aside from a professional footballer. But I was very lucky early in my career to find a position that really caused me to stretch. I was green and I got a chance to flex a little bit and learn some skills of management and leadership. It took me to a place where I realised that I loved growing human beings. Everything I’ve done since has been about growing people as a precursor to growing a business.
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