Todd Davis: Building LifeLock on Technology and Trust

by Alison Stanton

Todd-DavisAs Todd Davis, founder of LifeLock, has learned first-hand, success comes from identifying an issue society is facing and then creating a new, easily identifiable industry to help solve it. Just as Kimberly-Clark Corp. got people asking their friends to hand them a “Kleenex” rather than a “facial tissue,” Davis set out to create a company that would not only solve a serious problem but also become a brand leader in the process.

“I wanted to apply technology to a unique challenge that society faces,” Davis says, recalling the many stories he read and saw on the news about the prevalence of identity theft. “When I started LifeLock, identity theft was already one of the most reported crimes to the Federal Trade Commission. I found these stories to be both scary and fascinating. I’d hear the stories about the horrible things that would happen to the people who had their identity stolen and how they worked to get their lives back, but then the end of the story was always, ‘So be careful who you give your information to,’ which I thought was crazy.”

Rather than wait until the worst happens and identity is compromised, Davis thought it made more sense to apply technology on behalf of the consumers to keep their data as safe as possible. After all, he notes, people cannot just quit giving out their personal information. “We give it to our doctor, and to our dentist, and our employers. I wanted my company to do something to make this process safer.”

Although Davis, who had previously worked at Dell Computer, had a solid background in technology, he knew he needed to find experts who could help determine exactly what was needed for his business. In 2005, the self-described “entrepreneur by nature” went out and found “the rocket scientists” of the technology industry and started his company with eight employees. “I just told them, ‘This is what I want to do. Now please go out and solve X,’” he says.

More than a credit monitoring service, LifeLock helps protect its clients’ personal information through a combination of data surveillance techniques and outstanding customer service — all day, every day. LifeLock’s key competition, Davis notes, is the credit bureaus. But, he adds, “no one thinks of Experian and the others as people who protect our identity.”

Although LifeLock immediately took off as a company, growing very quickly and making the Inc. 500 list of fastest-growing companies two years in a row, Davis admits there were some challenges along the way. “The main issue was how to tell people who are already worried about identity theft to give us their personal identification information,” he notes. This challenge led Davis to star in a memorable commercial that he says clients still mention to this day. “I became best-known as the guy who gives out his Social Security number,” he says, adding the advertisement helped establish credibility for what his company was able to do.

“People would think, ‘What is that crazy guy doing? He’s either crazy or passionate and believes in what he does.’ I haven’t run that ad campaign in years, but people still talk to me about it. And our clients know they can hand over the keys to their kingdom to us, because they know us and trust us so much.” Effective though it was, Davis’s ad drew complaints from various attorneys general who didn’t like him giving out his Social Security number. “I wanted to respect them, so we changed our marketing a bit and now use ads that feature ‘LockMan,’ who takes on criminals with his army of LockMen.”

Rather than live in fear, Davis wants people to work with a company like LifeLock to make it harder on the criminals so they won’t be able to get away with stealing identities. He is also concerned about the increased popularity of peer-to-peer file sharing, which he says can often lead to an entire hard drive being exposed to other people. “By taking advantage of the technology and being more prudent, we will help deter more criminals.”

Davis hopes he can leave a legacy that goes beyond simply creating an easily-recognizable brand. His ultimate goal is to take on what he calls the most-reported crime in America and eliminate it. He is also proud that his company has created so many jobs in Arizona. “We are going to beat back the crime of identity theft,” he says.

Job Security

  • Todd Davis flaunted his Social Security number in commercials he ran in 2007, ‘08 and ‘09, to build credibility for his company’s ability to do the job of protecting individuals’ identity.
  • LifeLock employs about 470 people, who perform a variety of tasks that range from product development, engineering, software development, research and development to marketing.
  • LifeLock received a 2010 Stevie Award as Best New Product or Service of the Year for the LifeLock Identity Alert™ system.
  • LifeLock provides its clients “5 Points of Protection,” monitoring identity, scanning for identity threats, responding to identity theft, offering a service guarantee and tracking credit scores.
  • Davis earned a Bachelor of Business Administration in Entrepreneurship from Baylor University.

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