Last Night at Stanford I

Last Night at Stanford

I attended the MIT/Stanford Venture Lab’s discussion of Biometric Technologies last night at the Stanford Graduate School of Business.

Bob McCashin, CEO of Identix, was the keynote speaker. He talked about Identix’s business involving supplier fingerprint-based ID verification systems. Their business has taken off since September 11th — particularly for airport identification checks of employees. He says there are over 700,000 airport employees who are in the process now of having their fingerprints screened.

Jim Bidzos, Vice Chairman of RSA Security and Chairman of VeriSign, moderated a panel discussion. In his opening remarks, Jim discussed his experience building a company in the encryption/data security space and how tough it is as an entrepreneur in a market space where significant infrastructure must be built.

On the panel were Marge Breya from Sun Microsystems who discussed the new Liberty Alliance started by Sun in July 2001 and which was publicly announced in late September. Liberty’s members bring namespaces representing over 2 billion names.

Also on the panel were Martin Reynolds from the Gartner Group and Charles Hudson, a venture capitalist with the CIA’s In-Q-Tel venture fund.

Interestingly, Charles commented that his venture fund hasn’t invested in any biometric companies and that most of their energies to date have been focused on knowledge management companies.

There was a lot of discussion by the panel about the prospects for a national ID card but general agreement that it was unlikely to see the light of day. A general sense across the panel was that any widespread consumer usage of biometrics would probably be driven by the major credit card companies deciding to launch products based upon biometrics which could then also be used by other companies for other purposes.

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