Rod Beckstrom is a highly successful entrepreneur, founder and CEO of a publicly-traded company, a best-selling author, avowed environmentalist, public diplomacy leader and, most recently, the head of a top-level federal government agency entrusted with protecting the nation’s communication networks against cyber attack.
Throughout 2008, Rod served as the Director of the National Cybersecurity Center (NCSC) at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, where he reported to the Secretary of DHS, and was charged with cooperating directly with the Attorney General, National Security Council, Secretary of Defense, and the Director of National Intelligence (DNI). Prior to joining DHS, he served on the DNI’s Senior Advisory Group. Rod is unique in having experienced the inner workings of two, highly-charged, often competing, federal security agencies created in the wake of the September 11th attacks, an event that he says, “changed my life.”
Rod is widely regarded as a pre-eminent thinker and speaker on issues of cybersecurity and related global issues, as well as on organizational strategy and leadership. He is also an expert on how carbon markets and “green” issues affect business. While Director of the NCSC, Rod developed an effective working group of leaders from the nation's top six cybersecurity centers across the civilian, military and intelligence communities. His work led to his development of a new economic theory that provides an explicit model for valuing any network, answering a decades-old problem in economics.
Rod co-authored four books including The Starfish and the Spider: The Unstoppable Power of Leaderless Organizations, a best-selling model for analyzing organizations, leadership styles, and competitive strategy. The Starfish and the Spider has been translated into 16 foreign editions and is broadly quoted.
At age 24, Rod started his first company in a garage apartment and, subsequently, grew it into a global enterprise with offices in New York, London, Tokyo, Geneva, Sydney, Palo Alto, Los Angeles, and Hong Kong. CATS Software Inc., went public and later sold. Nobel Laureates Myron Scholes and William F. Sharpe served on the company's boards of directors and advisors. While at CATS Rod helped advance the financial theory of “value at risk,” now used globally for all key banking risk management. Rod co-edited the first book to introduce “value at risk.” Rod also co-founded Mergent Systems, a pioneer in inferential database engines, which Commerce One later acquired for $200 million. He has co-launched other collaborations, software, and internet service businesses, as well. From 1999 to 2001, he served as Chairman of Privada, Inc, a leader in technology enabling private, anonymous, and secure credit card transactions over the internet.
In 2003, Rod co-founded a global peace network of CEO's which initiated Track II diplomatic efforts between India and Pakistan. The group’s symbolic actions opened the borders to people and trade, and contributed to ending the most recent Indo-Pak conflict. It's one of several non-profit groups and initiatives Rod has started. He now serves on the boards of the Environmental Defense Fund, which Fortune Magazine ranked as one of the seven most powerful boards in the world and Jamii Bora Trust an innovative micro-lending group in Africa with more than 200,000 members.
He is a graduate of Stanford University with an MBA and a BA with Honors and Distinction. He served as Chairman of the Council of Presidents of the combined Stanford student body (ASSU) and was a Fulbright Scholar at the University of St. Gallen in Switzerland.
Rod commenced as President and CEO of ICANN on 1 July 2009.