“From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded.” From my mother, when I was setting out for Harvard. She laid on the guilt, like mothers do. I say that with a smile. She wanted me to give back.
As a part of our series about business leaders who are shaking things up in their industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Cliff Boyle.
Cliff Boyle has three US patents on internet communications technology, with two others applied for, including automated multi-factor fraud protection, and a decentralized internet. He is the founder of ShazzleChat, the first internet messaging service to avoid the Web. His other business interests include Landmark Recovery, a national chain of US drug and alcohol treatment centers he founded and operates. His writing credits include a book of poetry, “The Birth of Christmas,” and a genre novel (under a pen name), “CyberScreams.” He has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize in short stories for “Messages,” and had his screenplay, “Night Landing,” optioned by the Academy Award winning director, Hans de Weers. Cliff is a 1982 graduate of Harvard University.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?
I disliked the tech giants for the way they took customer data to enrich themselves at the expense of the customer’s privacy. It was David against Goliath. They struck a nerve. I wanted to fight back.
Can you tell our readers what it is about the work you’re doing that’s disruptive?
We write applications for user smart phones to turn them into servers, so our users control their data and messaging. We took an ax to the tech giant’s control of data by cutting them and their servers out of the loop.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that? Where do I start?
Our first patent was for a decentralized social networking platform. We bought a van, and sent our marketing team off on a cross-country tour to promote it, only to find out the product’s functionality was suspect in the low bandwidth world of that time. The marketing team thought it was a good idea to continue the trip as a vacation. Upper management did not agree.
We all need a little help along the journey. Who have been some of your mentors? Can you share a story about how they made an impact?
My dad, and insurance man of rectitude, told me when I first started out that sometimes business is business, meaning you might have to figure out how to make it work, even if you can’t always draw within the lines. At times I had to make up the rules, or bend them. Of course, that was more possible back when I was starting out than it is today, the way seemingly every move is tracked, and you need a government permit to clip your finger nails.
In today’s parlance, being disruptive is usually a positive adjective. But is disrupting always good? When do we say the converse, that a system or structure has ‘withstood the test of time’? Can you articulate to our readers when disrupting an industry is positive, and when disrupting an industry is ‘not so positive’? Can you share some examples of what you mean? Disruption in technology is the life blood of tech. I believe it is always good. We have Moore’s law on the hardware side, and a rich tradition from IBM, to Microsoft, to Apple coming back, to Google on the business side. The winners get calcified. Think of how inappropriate the Google slogan “Do no evil” is for them now. They are the evil, because they are the current troll collecting tolls at the bridge. They did not start out evil, but as soon as they got the club, they became the bad guy. It is time to take them down. It will happen.
Can you share 3 of the best words of advice you’ve gotten along your journey? Please give a story or example for each.
- “Business is business” from my father, already described above.
- “Most of my clients are going to retire soon, and then die. That’s why I’m taking you on.” From a lawyer who jump started my business career when I was still in my 20’s. I knew the path was spread out before me. I just had to walk it.
- “From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded.” From my mother, when I was setting out for Harvard. She laid on the guilt, like mothers do. I say that with a smile. She wanted me to give back.
We are sure you aren’t done. How are you going to shake things up next?
After bringing privacy to chat, we will bring it to payments, with a private payments application that operates like cash, though over the internet. No audit trail. And then we will launch a decentralized internet that the user will control, not the trolls at the bridge.
Do you have a book, podcast, or talk that’s had a deep impact on your thinking? Can you share a story with us? Can you explain why it was so resonant with you?
Allan Bloom’s LOVE AND FRIENDSHIP, because it outlines the value of Western culture in history and literature, illuminating what is most important in our lives, and the debt we owe to the Dead White Men.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life? ‘Make billionaires cry’.
It is my motto. We don’t need to put up with the smug tech geeks stealing our data and profiting off our privacy.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
This one is simple. I would inspire a return to churches. Spend at least one hour a week contemplating what is most important in the universe, and what your place in it is.
How can our readers follow you online?
Shazzle.com will keep them updated on product development.
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!