Marc Gorlin is the co-founder of Kabbage and a serial entrepreneur. In 1996 he was a co-founder of Pretty Good Privacy (PGP) and oversaw the financing and eventual sell of PGP to Network Associates in 1997. After PGP Marc co-founded VerticalOne, a content personalization service that was sold to S1 Corporation. Marc is also a co-founded of Lanta Technology Group, an Atlanta-based company that specialized in executive staffing. He graduated magna cum laude from the Henry W. Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Georgia.
Sramana: Marc, let’s start with some of your personal background. What is the story of your entrepreneurial journey?
Marc Gorlin: I was born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia. I grew up in an entrepreneurial family. My father started biotech companies. Growing up, he always told me that I did not need to find a job, I needed to find a deal. That is the path I took in starting a number of companies. I attended college at the University of Georgia, where I studied journalism. I think journalism is an underrated degree when it comes to business. You get a lot of business graduates who have a hard time putting together a clear thought. Journalism makes you get to the core point of things. A lot of business folks simply can’t communicate well.
Sramana: You can’t sell anything unless you have coherent thoughts about what you are trying to sell. You certainly can’t build a company if you don’t know how to sell.
Marc Gorlin: There were times in the technology sector where I wondered if people were able to sell things without putting together a rational thought. That is not really the case now, but it certainly was during the bubble days.
Sramana: What happened after you graduated?
Marc Gorlin: For six months I helped my dad. I went out looking for deals. I found a piece of software called PGP, which stood for Pretty Good Privacy. It was written by Phil Zimmerman, and it was out on the Internet. It was the strongest encryption that you could have on email and it was so strong that the government cracked down on him for a number of years. They did not want him to export it overseas.
He fought that battle in the press for almost five years. In 1996 the government decided to back off. That is when I called him. I figured if the government was concerned about the strength of the encryption, that it would be strong enough for corporations who needed this type of security. I thought it would make an interesting business so I gave Phil a call and he ended up calling me back a few weeks later.
He called back during the third quarter of the Super Bowl; he had no idea it was even on. We talked for the remainder of the game and it ended up being a three-hour conversation. I later learned that a three-hour conversation is a short conversation for Phil. Within the next week or so I flew out to Boulder, Colorado, to talk about what he created and to determine if we could put a company around it.