I'm Leaving IBM

Today is my last day at IBM.

If you've been following along, IBM bought my startup Resilient Systems in Spring 2016. Since then, I have been with IBM, holding the nicely ambiguous title of "Special Advisor." As of the end of the month, I will be back on my own.

I will continue to write and speak, and do the occasional consulting job. I will continue to teach at the Harvard Kennedy School. I will continue to serve on boards for organizations I believe in: EFF, Access Now, Tor, EPIC, Verified Voting. And I will increasingly be an advocate for public-interest technology.

Posted on June 28, 2019 at 2:04 PM • 39 Comments

Comments

M@June 28, 2019 2:45 PM

You need no well-wishes, but of course, you've got them anyhow. Best of luck in the next Chapter, Bruce. :)

Sherman JayJune 28, 2019 2:56 PM

Dear Mr. Schneier,
To those of us desiring to be as informed as possible on Computer and Internet Security issues, your blogs and essays have been so insightful and helpful. You are an exemplary contribution to the field of Public Interest Technology. I know I am not alone in wishing you all the very best in any endeavor you undertake. And, I hope you will continue to enlighten us and allow us to share in a positive manner on your Friday Squid blogs.

Sherman JayJune 28, 2019 3:02 PM

P.S. your actions speak as loudly as your words. I use EFF privacy badger on Linux Firefox and (of course) Privacy Badger reports NO nasty tracking goodies on your site. Thank you for leading by example. I, too, follow that practice of no tracking devices on all the websites I create for myself and for my clients.

CallMeLateForSupperJune 28, 2019 3:12 PM

Congrats on the promotion to civilian. No more Brooks Bros. denim. Woo-hoo!

Rick LobrechtJune 28, 2019 3:22 PM

Congratulations. With everything I've read about IBM, this can only be a good thing. I look forward to seeing what you do next.

JensJune 28, 2019 5:00 PM

As one can probably not get too many good wishes, the most excellent wishes for the next step in your career from here (Hamburg), too!

Mike ButashJune 28, 2019 5:19 PM

All the best - 5 years ago I realized working for anyone directly is terrible, just don't do it. I've waffled and taken fte jobs between, and quit after a year or so later. Big companies are still more hassle than worth.

Jocko O'MalleyJune 28, 2019 7:50 PM

We'll miss you, but I'm not shocked. IBM is horrible about rewarding BUs and bleeding edge contributors. BU revenue up 30% YoY? Bonus of 0. High performers, stick around, why don't ya? :(

er yuenJune 28, 2019 10:28 PM

Mr. Schneier,

To my mind, the best thing you have done is not the important writing, nor educating so many people, nor creating cryptographic primitives.

It is not this informative website, your work on boards, or the way you inject reason into debates.

It is that you had and still have the guts to defend the Constitution of the United States against those who want to undermine it for their own benefit.

Ganesan KrishnaJune 28, 2019 11:04 PM

Thank you for all you share via your blogs, books and conferences. It is a great public interest service. Am I glad you moved on! No more the great place it used to be in 2004. When a companies fail to recognise performers, impinging upon their balance of personal lives and reward non-performers, they headed to be part of history.

AlejandroJune 29, 2019 6:13 AM

Best wishes on your new adventure, Bruce.

To be honest, from the very little I know about you, IBM didn't seem like a good fit for you. You seem more independent and willing to speak out than most corporate cultures can tolerate.

JonKnowsNothingJune 29, 2019 9:21 AM

As others, I am glad you have escaped in one piece and your integrity intact.

@Alejandro

You seem more independent and willing to speak out than most corporate cultures can tolerate.

From my personal experience with "corporate cultures", I think the blog photo with the homage to Woody Guthrie "This machine kills fascists", probably thumped the nail in the coffin for a "departure chat".

Corporations do not like to be reminded of who and what they were or are and they do not like anything that reduces their lucrative contracts for unsavory systems and practices. This if filed under "We provide all legally allowed services" or variations thereof such as "We pay all our legally required taxes". That their taxes are manipulated or their contracts have human rights costs and global impacts of a negative nature are outside their LoS (Line of Sight).


ht tps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Woody_Guthrie
ht tps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/This_machine_kills_fascists
(url fractured to prevent autorun)

Colonel PanikJune 29, 2019 9:53 AM

Mr Schneier, now that you have free time can you come over and fix up my computer?

What ever is next, have fun. Thanks for sharing your knowledge with us poor mortals.

Denton ScratchJune 29, 2019 11:53 AM

I've never been an admirer of Big Blue. They're not as nasty as they used to be in the early days - lock-in; proprietary plugs and sockets; hardware and software could only be rented, not owned; stealing other peoples' ideas; Microsoft learned a lot from IBMs way of dealing with people who approached them with original ideas.

It's great that you are now A Free Man, not a number. I hope you escaped without being forced to sign any obnoxious contracts.

Very Good Luck to you!

James TJune 29, 2019 12:30 PM

Dear Mr. Schneier,
Glad to hear you're moving on from IBM. their loss is Humanities gain. Readind your Material and following this blog I see a very disturbing trend flowing threw it all. You honestly seem to care about your fellow man.Thank You for being on the front lines of this ever expanding War. Thanks for the common sense approach to it all. Keep up the good fight, the World would be a much better place if we had 500,000 more of you in it.

TatütataJune 29, 2019 3:58 PM

Congratulations, it's a good thing you ain't leaving face-down and nine-edge first, unfolded, unspindled, and unmutilated. (How many can still understand the reference?). There's still life beyond the output tray.

CommonwealthJune 30, 2019 2:09 AM

Congratulations.

Go steampunk-locksmith style! (that's what I'd do if I had similar credentials)

Peace is the only way.



https://{("'Peace Now! (or else!)'")}

CassandraJune 30, 2019 11:52 AM

A big change, I hope for the better. No matter what, I hope whatever you do in future brings you happiness.

Thank-you for all the work on information security and public policy you have done.

Cassandra

FaustusJune 30, 2019 12:39 PM

@ Bruce

Congratulations on this new phase of your career!

I have been dubious about the idea of a public interest technologist. My main concern is that such a move has historically been a power grab in many professions. Also I think most questions of public interest do not hinge on objective facts but rather on trade offs such as privacy vs security that are values based rather than fact based.

However, your decision to leave IBM makes your status as a public interest technologist much more plausible for me and I find myself much more open to the possibility of helpful public interest expertise.
I

I really hope you can have a positive impact. You are associated with a stable of worthwhile projects. I hope you can escape the gravity of anger and greed and self interest that distorts many plausible efforts at making a more just world.

I suggest a rights based approach, where everyone is recognized as having newly articulated rights. Rather than a major new government infrastructure I suggest that organizations that deny these rights lose recourse to government aid in enforcing contracts and IP.

That great legal thinker, Judge Judy, refused to enforce contracts for individuals who caused other worse harms. I think she had something there.

SpaceLifeFormJune 30, 2019 4:32 PM

I hope you got some nice parting comments from coworkers on Hollerith cards.

Sergey TsaregorodtsevJuly 1, 2019 2:33 AM

Wish you all the best in your new or old endeavours!

ThunderbirdJuly 1, 2019 8:49 AM

Bruce,

I tried to remember how long I’ve been reading your blog. Certainly since before it was called that... It is one of the first (and these days, only) places I turn to keep track of the silliness in the security field. I find it admirable that you’ve managed to keep it real while on all these various gigs. Glad you survived the latest one.

AlphaJuly 1, 2019 10:39 AM

No Employment Security
Bruce I’m not saying this happened to you but its common for creators of acquired technology company’s to leave after about three years.

I’ve also heard many stories that IBM is ruthless with its engineers. For instance they routinely cull 10% a year.

Careers that used to be safe are no longer. Boeing infamously replaced experienced avionics engineers with $9 overseas coders. Walmart is laying off 40% of its senior pharmacists.

Ironically top engineers who excel in merit raises are in for a nasty surprise when entering into their 50’s or 40’s in Silicon Valley. During widespread cutbacks, past performance does not carry much weight, as its usually a matter of cost.

These vicious capitalistic cycles will only make employees more insecure as company defined pensions evaporate.

Many higher level government employees use their inside information to tailor special interest legislation, quit, then reap the rewards for a secure retirement.

Two Can Play This Game
Some ethically challenged engineers create new intrusive data-mining systems, become wealthy then retire early [1]. All before any regulation. The few with a conscience then voice their regrets over algorithmic induced addictions as society further crumbles. I’m surely not the only one observing these stupefying, ill effects on a daily basis.

You Bruce have my admiration by taking the higher road and never gave up your rights to freedom and privacy principles.

[1] I hear Facebook is hiring a Libra ‘Trust’ Influencer to work with the esteemed Nick Clegg. They need to find a way to keep customer's private Libra crypto key secure. #humor #trustFacebook

Corell SchachterJuly 3, 2019 9:40 AM

Active with the EFF? Why?? They've been weak on even acknowledging the need for regulating big tech and were virtually silent for a year when Facebook's outrageous activity became known. Even now, they've been muted.

Sherman JayJuly 4, 2019 12:39 PM

I think everyone will get a chuckle out of this:

When I was working with a USC professor friend of mine in 1971 using his DEC pdp11, we had T-shirts printed up that said:

I (industry's)
B (biggest)
M (mistake)

Take the money and run!

p.s. yes, that pdp11 used 8" floppy discs!
Oh, no, now you know how ancient I am.

GKaplanJuly 15, 2019 7:01 AM

Congratulations on leaving IBM. Decades ago I recall my freshman university professor’s answer when I asked why the university’s computer center had just booted out an IBM main frame and replaced it with something else. He said: “Their middle name is ‘business’ and that’s what you get.”

It was amusing to watch how their corporate greed led to loosing the entire PC market. Anyone seen a microchannel architecture card lately?

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Sidebar photo of Bruce Schneier by Joe MacInnis.