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V3 Hot Seat: Lookout co-founder Kevin Mahaffey

11 Dec 2012

Lookout co-founder Kevin MahaffeyLookout co-founder and chief technology officer Kevin Mahaffey is one of the tech industry's up and coming entrepreneurs.

Since founding the mobile security firm in 2007 alongside John Hering and James Burgess, Mahaffey's contributions have helped Lookout go from strength to strength.

The company's fresh approach to mobile security meant Lookout's Android app came first place in V3's top 10 mobile security shortlist. The firm has also garnered interest from big name network carriers like Orange, EE and T-Mobile.

V3 caught up with Mahaffey to learn more about the man behind Lookout's protection software and success.

Prior to Mahaffey, V3 put Google's head of enterprise, Tom Davies on the Hot Seat.

V3: What would be your dream job (apart from your current role, of course)?

Kevin Mahaffey: If not a tech entrepreneur, which I consider to be the most fun and rewarding job in the world, I'd love to continue hacking my way around the world's biggest problems, but in the physical world.

For example one pressing problem is how do we support the planet's growing population, but preserve the environment at the same time?

Imagine if we could grow crops in the ocean. For now, it's more of a pipe dream, but sooner or later, we'll have the right underlying research to make it possible. We could grow the sweetest, most nutritious apples or sustainable, delicious meats right in the middle of the ocean.

There are hundreds of other big problems in the world waiting for people to take a big risk and try to solve them.

Which mobile phone and tablet do you currently use?

My primary phone is the Galaxy Nexus. I also carry an iPhone, but mostly use it for things that I don't want to waste my Android's battery on: Spotify, Twitter, reading news.

Which person do you most admire in the IT industry?

I'm going to cheat and combine different attributes of multiple people.

Sergey Brin and Larry Page continue to impress me both because of their bold investments in visionary technology - self driving cars, augmented reality glasses, and many more - combined with their efforts to use technology to make the world a better, more free place.

Not something you'd expect if you just thought of Google as a search engine or advertising company.

I admire Steve Jobs' contribution to making design a critical part of technology. No longer do we stare at beige boxes with ugly, flickering CRT monitors and poorly designed interfaces that frustrate us every time we use them.

He raised the bar for what a good product means. He and the rest of his team have made everyone's life better, whether they realise it or not.

[Co-founder of PayPal and SpaceX] Elon Musk for tackling not one, but two audacious problems at the same time: space and the future of the automobile. 

Which technology has had the biggest impact on your working life?

Hands down, mobile phones. The fact that I can be anywhere and still connected to the world is amazing.

What's been the highlight of your career so far?

Each new day is a new high, because it's awesome to see the great things the team at Lookout is doing and the people in the world we're all helping.

You would not believe the stories we hear from Lookout users around the world getting back a lost or stolen phone or at first thinking their precious photos on their phone went away only to realise that we had kept them safe.

What was your first job?

Selling snow cones at our neighbourhood pool. The lesson I learnt was to create things that people want. You're not going to sell many snow cones when it's raining, but on a hot sweltering day in Southern California, you better bring a lot of ice. Favourite flavour: green apple.

What's your favourite thing about working in the IT industry?

The ability for a small team to so quickly improve the lives of millions of people. This has never existed in the course of human history before.

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Alastair Stevenson

Alastair has worked as a reporter covering security and mobile issues at V3 since March 2012. Before entering the field of journalism Alastair had worked in numerous industries as both a freelance copy writer and artist.

View Alastair's Google+ profile

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