We first met Shane at personal data week, a conference where he felt more at home than nearly anywhere. For 20 years he had spent every day and most weekends sounding the alarm about the pitfalls of the emerging market for our data.
As CEO of the map network with his cofounder, friend and our current advisor Tarik Kurspanic, he quickly realized the sheer scope and value of the data we provided without compensation to companies already making millions of dollars on top of the primary services we thought we were paying for. By the end of 2006, Shane would sell the MapNetwork to Nokia, turning a ~120 person company, into a ~3,500 person company, and finally into a 100K+ person company. There was value in data, and Shane had proved the market agreed.
With this experience in mind, Shane got the gang back together to embark on what would be called the first Privacy by Design platform -- Personal.com. Now anyone could create the most comprehensive database about themselves, and choose to privately share the information through online forms and integrated API’s. The company created a new national dialogue around personal data, getting coverage in numerous national and international media outlets, including The New York Times, CNN, The Economist, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, The Atlantic, TechCrunch, Mashable, GigaOm, Fast Company, Forbes, and others.
Of course, reshaping the entire data-economy was no small task, especially before most even recognized it was a problem. Shane would go on to meet Julian Ranger, another visionary CEO behind a privacy-focused product, digi.me. While digi.me created the underlying infrastructure to make private and permissioned sharing of data possible, Shane was tasked with finding the most valuable use-cases to showcase the power of consumer-controlled data.
Shane spearheaded two major projects for digi.me as their US CEO, TFP (that F’ing post) an app that allowed users to quickly remove offensive posts from their social media accounts, and UBDI.
When the UBDI vision first came together in late 2018, we spent hours on zoom calls designing the product, debating the language that would make our users feel comfortable, and creating a business model that would result in a fair value exchange between users, the platform, and the customers interested in gleaning insights from this data.
Shane never allowed us to take short cuts when it came to privacy and security. Every business decision started with “how will this affect the privacy of our members?” Shane was able to seamlessly bridge the gap between the practical and the paranoid. He found ways to keep “privacy experts” satisfied while making the technology accessible to anyone with a phone and a few online accounts. He wanted to create a bridge between the world we live in now, and one where data access started with consent.
UBDI was the culmination of Shane’s long career pushing the boundaries of data ownership, while enlightening people about its importance and potential. He was used to be told he was “too early” because Shane could always see just around the corner.
It was the best of times it was the worst of times by Tarik Kurspahic