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Building Tech on a Moving Regulatory Target

August 8, 2023
Written By
August 8, 2023
Written By
Jon Suarez-Davis (jsd)

In an interview with Ketch co-founder Max Anderson, the focus is on data privacy laws and AI's role. Anderson discusses the global privacy landscape, highlighting Ketch's approach to helping businesses navigate regulations. The conversation also emphasizes data dignity and Ketch's unique role in the AI revolution.

The “Innovation Double-Click” series highlights the best of the super{set} Hive, featuring insider tips and strategies from startup executives who are driving innovation and propelling their companies to new heights.

The AI revolution is powered by data, but behind every data point is a person, and  companies need to protect the personal data they collect – and the people they collect it from. We’re in the early innings of a seismic shift in data utility, driven by AI. To unlock the value from AI initiatives, businesses need access to responsibly gathered and protected personal and confidential data. 

Enter Ketch: an intelligent privacy platform with data control at the core. Given how hot the topic of data dignity is right now, we sat down with Ketch co-founder Max Anderson to learn about the challenges and opportunities of creating companies and scaling startups in a fast-changing data privacy landscape.

  1. jsd: General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) recently turned 5. How far have we come with privacy regulations around the world? What’s the biggest challenge when building alongside a continuously evolving regulatory landscape?

Max: Privacy regulations have undeniably made significant strides globally. And the landscape continues to grow and evolve. Here in the US, privacy legislation has been codified into law in ten U.S. states, and more are likely to follow. This progress creates challenges for those building technology solutions. Ketch was always designed to be flexible, even when all we had out there was GDPR and California’s first in the nation privacy regulations - California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA). We had the benefit of building solutions for GDPR at Salesforce, and that process taught us how much configurability this domain required. As a result, we built the technology so that it’s as flexible as possible, assuming there would be high fragmentation in requirements across the globe. With more US states and several international territories likely to follow,  Ketch has focused on a privacy "building blocks" approach, akin to creating a customizable recipe for privacy. By treating laws as a recipe with similar ingredients but nuanced flavors, we work to ensure our technology can cater to various regulations efficiently. For example, depending on the state and law, Ketch can be customized based on the types of rights offered, the type of consent and what you are using the data for. 

As for building tech on a moving regulatory target,  it’s a unique challenge because you never really know what is going to happen. As the world continues to be shaped and reshaped by transformative AI advancements, new questions arise. For instance, what if a user requests access to delete their data from an AI model? What implications does this have for the model's integrity and derivative assets? 

We do our best to minimize the impact of the unknown by staying proactive – we’re diligently following the legislative landscape to ensure our model is well-prepared to handle regulatory shifts that may come our way.

  1. jsd: In terms of privacy, what do the regulations get right? What do they get wrong? 

Max: The North Star has to be acknowledging the importance of data dignity for individuals, even in the face of vagueness and uncertainty. And regulations generally get it right. The emphasis on transparency regarding data use and providing individuals with choice and control over their personal information is a crucial step forward in safeguarding privacy rights. 

However, there are certain areas where regulations have definitely underestimated the complexities of the digital ecosystem. Individuals' identities are not as straightforward as they may seem. They are often represented by devices and interconnected bits of data. Seeing people as people rather than devices is a challenging task for both individuals and businesses. Regulations have created significant operational challenges for companies who often spend hundreds or thousands of hours on privacy program management, representing unplanned costs and often pulling critical resources away from other projects. 

In addition, there is a need to strike the right balance between regulation and enabling participation in the data-driven economy. As technology and connectivity continue to advance rapidly, companies need adaptive and future-proof solutions like Ketch to navigate this ever-changing landscape effectively.

  1. jsd: What are the major differences across global data privacy laws? What are the ways businesses are approaching this? 

Max: A straightforward way to understand the differences is to start with U.S. and E.U. data privacy laws. The E.U., under GDPR follows an opt-in model, while the U.S. predominantly operates under an opt-out model. In general, the core rights a person has to access and delete data are the same, but the data use paradigms are very different. Of course, there are also laws in Brazil (closer to GPDR) and Canada (mix of both). 

Let’s start with GDPR. One smart thing European regulators have done is not to prescribe the "things businesses do with data" and instead put that obligation onto the business through the concept of purpose limitation. This will make the GDPR much more durable to the changes in data use cases over time as compared to other regulations.

Ironically enough, at the same time, I see many EU businesses assuming that if they have a cookie notice and "block cookies," they have complied with their purpose limitation requirements. Instead, I would hope to see those businesses worrying more about how they control their use of data across purposes and systems, where setting cookies might be a footnote in broader implementation.

In the U.S., regulation has been much more prescriptive about what people should be able to opt out of, like "data sales" in California. That approach, I believe, has made US legislation less able to stand the test of time because, among other reasons, the definition of data sales has been tough to understand and took a long time for people to appreciate the implications of. Another thing – that prescription about “data sales” led to potential exploitation of the ambiguousness of the term. This could have been avoided if we followed a more E.U.-like model.

There are other challenges, too. Businesses In the U.S., by and large, still rely on tenuous legal arguments for why these things don't apply (ie: "I don't sell data") or don’t really think about how they connect a consumer's choice to their data usage operations.

I do believe that the opt-out system is more favorable to businesses because it allows for data processing while still providing users with an option to opt-out if they choose to do so. Under both systems, what’s critical is this idea of coordinating data usage across systems based on permissions from the consumer. Ultimately, this is a solvable problem, but it's more complicated and expensive than it seems the average business wants it to be.

  1. jsd: AI is heavily dependent on data. Is there an intersection with data privacy? How does Ketch help businesses participate in the AI revolution? 

Max: Absolutely, there is a critical intersection between AI and data privacy. AI projects heavily rely on access to vast amounts of data, often including personal data, to train and improve their models. However, this reliance on data poses significant challenges for businesses in terms of maintaining data privacy and complying with regulatory requirements.

For businesses to effectively participate in the AI revolution, they must have their privacy game in top shape. This involves ensuring that data is fully permissioned and that they understand the necessary controls to responsibly handle and extract data. AI initiatives are often dead-on-arrival if access to personal data is hampered by privacy and compliance gaps. In practical terms, this means a business can’t move AI projects from pilot to production unless they solve privacy challenges. Ketch assists businesses in navigating these challenges and maximizing the benefits of AI by providing tools and solutions to protect confidential data. Ketch enables businesses to fine-tune AI models and mitigate potential risks. We facilitate the process of freeing up data while ensuring it is fully permissioned, allowing businesses to gain a comprehensive understanding of AI data usage both internally and externally. Businesses can confidently utilize Ketch's capabilities to participate in the AI landscape, knowing that their data privacy is well-maintained, and they are complying with relevant regulations.

  1. jsd: The privacy management software space is highly competitive. How does Ketch differentiate and innovate?

Max: Competing in the data privacy landscape is challenging for two reasons.  It feels like there’s a new competitor every week, and you are constantly teaching the market how to solve the problem with technology among audiences who haven’t been big buyers of technology, like lawyers for instance. Many of the platforms in this space offer only surface-level capabilities that focus on addressing specific aspects of privacy programs. Ketch stands out by providing programmatic, automated solutions that unlock real value for privacy programs. Unlike legacy platforms that often cater to isolated functionalities, Ketch takes a holistic approach to data privacy, offering comprehensive and seamless solutions that streamline privacy operations for businesses.

Another one of Ketch's key differentiators is our focus on respecting individuals' data dignity. With data being at the core of AI and other data-driven technologies, we believe that businesses can grow and thrive while still maintaining a strong commitment to privacy and ethical data practices. This idea sets Ketch apart as a privacy partner that not only provides cutting-edge technology but also upholds values that prioritize user rights and data protection.

  1. jsd: What should future co-founders and product leaders know about working with the crew at super{set}?

Max: Co-founding a company within the super{set} model has so many advantages. How much time do we have? I’ll try to keep it brief. To me the best thing about building with super{set} is that you have access to the vast experiences of your colleagues and that you can tap into and the collective resources that super{set} provides – like legal, HR, etc. I don’t have to worry about those things, which means I can focus more of my time on the product and our customers. Bottom line is this: co-founding a company is hard work, and there are no sure things, but in the grand scheme of things, if you are into the risk-adjusted, expedient path to company building while there's still risk embedded, it's nicely tempered. Tom and Vivek have done a good job with the model. It's definitely worked for me.

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Written By
Written By
Jon Suarez-Davis (jsd)
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Do you get an uneasy feeling anytime you get added to a customer call? Do you ever struggle to respond to a frustrated customer? Peter Wang, Product lead at Ketch, discusses how customer feedback can help drive product development, and how engineers can use customer insights to create better products. Learn best practices for collecting and interpreting customer feedback.

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Silicon Valley’s Greatest Untapped Resource: Moms

This post was written by MarkovML Co-Founder, Lindsey Meyl, as part of our #PassTheMic series.

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Understanding The AI “Alignment Problem”

Vivek Vaidya recaps his conversation with AI researcher and author of "The Alignment Problem" Brian Christian at the 2023 super{summit}.

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Lessons of Grit from my Immigrant Parents

This post was written by Ketch Solutions Engineer, Sahiti Surapaneni, as part of our #PassTheMic series.

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From Watsonville To The Moon

This post was written by Habu software engineer, Martín Vargas-Vega, as part of our new #PassTheMic series.

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The super{set} Entrepreneurial Guild

Has someone looking to make a key hire ever told you that they are after “coachability”? Take a look at the Google ngram for “coachability” — off like a rocket ship since the Dot Com bubble, and it’s not even a real word! Coaching is everywhere in Silicon Valley...

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Not Just On Veterans Day

This post was written by Ketch Developer Advocate, Ryan Overton, as part of our #PassTheMic series.

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Thick Skin, Tech and Black History Month

This post was written by Ketch Data Privacy & Compliance Specialist, Jocelyn Brunson, as part of our #PassTheMic series.

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Pivots and Possibilities

Discover how lessons from law enforcement shape a thriving tech career. Ketch Sr. Business Development Representative Brenda Flores shares a bold career pivot in our latest "Pass the Mic" story.

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We don’t critique, we found and build.

The super{set} studio model for early-stage venture It is still early days for the startup studio model. We know this because at super{set} we still get questions from experienced operators and investors. One investor that we’ve known for years recently asked us: “you have a fund — aren’t you just a venture capital firm with a different label?”

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Q&A with Accel Founder Arthur Patterson

Arthur Patterson, founder of venture capital firm Accel, sits down for a fireside chat with super{set} founding partner Tom Chavez as part of our biweekly super{set} Community Call. Arthur and Tom cover venture investing, company-building, and even some personal stories from their history together.

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Former Salesforce SVP of Marketing Strategy and Innovation Jon Suarez-Davis “JSD” Appointed Chief Commercial Officer at super{set}

The Move Accelerates the Rapidly Growing Startup Studio’s Mission to Lead the Next Generation of AI and Data-Driven Market Innovation and Success

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The Four Types of Startup Opportunities

In our last post, we discussed how data is the new general-purpose technology and that is why at super{set} we form data-driven companies from scratch. But new technologies are a promise, not a sudden phase change.

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How I Learned to Stop Optimizing and Love the Startup Ride

Reflections after a summer as an engineering intern at super{set}

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Tom Chavez in The Information: "TikTok Is Not the Enemy"

Tom writes a nuanced take on the TikTok controversy and outlines ethical data principles that will restore people’s sense of trust and offer them true control over how and when they grant permission for use of their data.

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The Era of Easy $ Is Over

The era of easy money - or at least, easy returns for VCs - is over. Tom Chavez is calling for VCs to show up in-person at August board meetings, get off the sidelines, and start adding real value and hands-on support for founders.

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Data Eats the World

The wheel. Electricity. The automobile. These are technologies that had a disproportionate impact on the merits of their first practical use-case; but beyond that, because they enabled so much in terms of subsequent innovation, economic historians call them “general-purpose technologies” or GPTs...

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super{set}’s Spectrum Detoxifies The Online Space

We are living in a time of extraordinary concern about the negative consequences of online platforms and social media. We worry about the damage interactive technologies cause to society; about the impact to our mental health; and about the way that these platforms and their practices play to our most destructive impulses. Too often, the experiences we have online serve only to polarize, divide, and amplify the worst of human nature.

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Horizontal Scaling at super{summit}

Vivek gives us the rundown on what the hive is buzzing about after super{summit} 2023: how to 'horizontally scale' yourself.

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Four Tips for a Distributed Workforce

This month we pass the mic to Sagar Gaur, Software Engineer at super{set} MLOps company MarkovML, who shares with us his tips for working within a global startup with teams in San Francisco and Bengaluru, India

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Too Dumb to Quit

The decision to start a company – or to join an early stage one – is an act of the gut. On good days, I see it as a quasi-spiritual commitment. On bad days, I see it as sheer irrationality. Whichever it is, you’ll be happier if you acknowledge and calmly accept the lunacy of it all...

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From Chords, to Code, to Chords Again: The Story Behind Boombox.io

super{set} founding general partner Tom Chavez wasn’t always set on a life of engineering and entrepreneurship – music was his first love. For a time, he was determined to make a career out of it. With boombox.io, Tom has combined the best of both worlds into a product that inspires and delights both the engineer and the musician.

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The RevOps Bowtie Data Problem

Go-to-market has entered a new operating environment. Enter: RevOps. We dig into the next solution space for super{set}, analyzing the paradigm shift in GTM and the data challenges a new class of company must solve.

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boombox.io Raises $7M to Build Out Creator Platform for Music Makers

super{set} startup studio portfolio company’s seed funding round was led by Forerunner Ventures with participation from Ulu Ventures Raise will enable boombox.io to accelerate product development on the way to becoming the winning creator platform for musicians globally

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VCs Write Investment Memos, We Write Solution Memos

When a VC decides to invest in a company, they write up a document called the “Investment Memo” to convince their partners that the decision is sound. This document is a thorough analysis of the startup...

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Navigating Juneteenth

Considered by some to be “America’s Second Independence Day,” Juneteenth has only recently entered the national zeitgeist. Celebrated on the third Saturday in June, it became a federal holiday just last year under President Joe Biden. Many companies are left wondering how to acknowledge the holiday. We sat down with Eskalera’s co-founder Dr. Tolonda Tolbert to get her take.

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Jamming with Habu’s Matt Kilmartin on Partnership Strategy

Discover how Habu, a trailblazer in data clean room technology, utilizes strategic partnerships with giants like Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud, and AWS to expand its market reach and foster the potential of an emerging category. Learn from CEO Matt Kilmartin's insights on how collaboration is the secret sauce that brings innovation to life.

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Overheard @ super{summit}

Vivek Vaidya's takeaways from the inaugural super{summit}

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Founder and Father: A Balancing Act

Making It Work With Young Kids & Young Companies

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How To Avoid Observability MELTdown

o11y - What is it? Why is it important? What are the tools you need? More importantly - how can you adopt an observability mindset? Habu Software Architect Siddharth Sharma reports from his session at super{summit} 2022.

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Why Head of Product is Our First Co-Founder

At super{set}, we stand side-by-side and pick up the shovel with our co-founders. Our first outside co-founder at a super{set} company is usually a Head of Product. Let’s unpack each portion of that title....

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Diamonds in the Rough

Obsessive intensity. Pack animal nature. Homegrown hero vibes. Unyielding grit. A chip on the shoulder. That's who we look for to join exceptional teams.

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The Balancing Act For Women in Tech

This post was written by Ketch Sales Director, Sheridan Rice, as part of our #PassTheMic series.

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Building Tech on a Moving Regulatory Target

In an interview with Ketch co-founder Max Anderson, the focus is on data privacy laws and AI's role. Anderson discusses the global privacy landscape, highlighting Ketch's approach to helping businesses navigate regulations. The conversation also emphasizes data dignity and Ketch's unique role in the AI revolution.

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Why I'm Joining super{set} as Chief Commercial Officer

Announcing Jon Suarez-Davis (jsd) as super{set}’s Chief Commercial Officer: jsd tells us in his own words why he's joining super{set}

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Navigating the Startup Journey from Launch to Finish Line

Are you a launcher, or a finisher? The balance of conviction, a guiding vision, and the right team to execute it all make the difference between entrepreneurial success and failure. Tom Chavez delves into his journey as a first-time CEO and the invaluable guidance he received from a key mentor.

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Lessons from the Startup Circus

super{set} Technical Lead and resident front-end engineering expert Sagar Jhobalia recaps lessons from participating in multiple product and team build-outs in our startup studio. Based on a decade of experience, Sagar emphasizes the importance of assembling the right engineering team, setting expectations, and strategically planning MVPs for early wins in the fast-paced startup environment.

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Why I'm Co-founding @ super{set}

Pankaj Rajan, co-founder at MarkovML, describes his Big Tech and startup experience and his journey to starting a company at super{set}.

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Infrastructure Headaches - Where’s the Tylenol?

Head of Infrastructure at Ketch, and Kapstan Advisor, Anton Winter explains a few of the infrastructure and DevOps headaches he encounters every day.

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7 Ways to Turn an Internship Into a Job at a Startup

Chris Fellowes, super{set} interned turned full time employee at super{set} portfolio company Kapstan, gives his 7 recommendations for how to turn an internship into a job at a startup.

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An Intro to Product-Led Growth from MarkovML

Want to grow your product organically? This blog post breaks down understanding costs, setting up starter plans, and pricing premium features using MarkovML as an example. Learn how to engage new users and encourage upgrades, enhancing user experience and fueling growth through actionable insights.

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High-Velocity Personal Growth

What's the price you put on personal growth? In his most recent note to founders, super{set} Founding General Partner Vivek Vaidya outlines 7 points of advice for startup interviews and negotiations. Vivek explains his compensation philosophy and the balance between cash and the investment in personal and career growth a startup can bring. Here’s the mindset you need to reach your zenith at a startup.

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Good Ideas, Good Luck

Coming up with new company ideas is easy: we take the day off, go to the park, and let the thoughts arrive like butterflies. Maybe we grab a coconut from that guy for a little buzz. While this describes a pleasant day in San Francisco, it couldn’t be further from the truth of what we do at super{set}. If only we could pull great ideas out of thin air. Unfortunately, it just doesn’t work that way.

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