Rod Beckstrom


Rod Beckstrom is a well-known cybersecurity authority, Internet leader and expert on organizational leadership. He is the former President and CEO of ICANN, the founding Director of the U.S. National Cybersecurity Center and co-author of the best-selling book The Starfish and the Spider: The Unstoppable Power of Leaderless Organizations. He is a frequent international media commentator and public speaker.

Rod Today
Rod currently serves as an advisor to multinational companies and international institutions. Mr. Beckstrom is a member of the World Economic Forum’s Global Council on Future of Government.

First U.S. Cybersecurity Chief
As founding Director of the U.S. National Cybersecurity Center, Rod was the Federal Government’s top cybersecurity coordinator, helping to integrate activities across key departments and agencies to combat the increasingly sophisticated threat to America’s interests at home and around the world.


Acclaimed author
Rod is the co-author of four books, including the critically acclaimed business book The Starfish and The Spider: The Unstoppable Power of Leaderless Organizations, which has sold more than 100,000 copies in North America and many more around the world; it has been translated into sixteen languages. With a thought-provoking view of why leaderless organizations like Alcoholics Anonymous and the Occupy movement often thrive while more structured and centralized organizations fail or decline, it lays out a new way of looking at leadership style, community and competitive strategy. Its reach has spanned the world, influencing top Pentagon generals, Tea Party activists, Arab Spring youth and countless CEOs.

Acclaimed author

Innovator at ICANN
Under Rod’s leadership as President and CEO of ICANN, the multinational institution that helps keep the global Internet secure, stable and unified, the Internet changed forever. His tenure was the springboard to a new era of innovation that enabled the use of Arabic, Chinese, Cyrillic and other non-Latin language scripts, bridging the technical barrier that had prevented billions from coming online entirely in their primary language. Approval of new generic top-level domains under Rod’s watch laid the groundwork for hundreds of new potential domain endings – innovations like dot news and dot Dubai – that will soon come into use alongside the familiar dot com and dot net.

The global Internet was made more secure under his leadership with the addition of domain name system security extensions, or DNSSEC. He also moved ICANN firmly onto the global stage as a key player in Internet governance, negotiating and signing the Affirmation of Commitments and the IANA contract with the U.S. Government that made ICANN accountable to the world.


Inspiration in a Silicon Valley garage
Rod has built his career on a foundation of entrepreneurism and game-changing leadership. As a graduate student aided by two Nobel prize-winning economists, he created CAT•S Software Inc., a public risk management company, in his Stanford, California, garage apartment. As CEO, he grew it into a global enterprise, took it public on the NASDAQ and later sold it.

He has participated in founding numerous high-tech ventures, including Mergent Systems, a database company that was sold for $200 million within a year of its creation. He co-founded or provided original backing for companies and organizations including Privada Inc. (backed by American Express and First Data), eMotion Inc. (acquired by Kodak), SV2, and American Legal Net.

Technology thought leader
A preeminent thinker on technology issues, Rod was named one of PC World’s “Puppet Masters of the Internet” in April 2012 and included in “2012’s Digital Power 50” by The Hollywood Reporter. In 2011 he was named a “Tech Titan” by The Washingtonian magazine, and in 2010, one of the “25 Most Influential People in Intellectual Property” by the American Lawyer.

25 Most Influential People in Intellectual Property

Speaker and commentator
As a much sought-after expert, Rod has spoken at high-profile events for a wide range of organizations in more than forty countries, including Google, Microsoft, eBay, Infosys Technologies, Black Hat, DEFCON, RSA, U.S. Department of Defense, GITEX Dubai Leaders’ Summit, Futurecom, Latin America Infosys, CIO Magazine Leadership Summit, Morgan Stanley, Starbucks, TED, the Monaco Media Forum, Sogeti Consulting, The Hay Group, American Organization of Nurse Executives, United Business Media Group, the White House, the United Nations, the World Economic Forum at Davos, the Aspen Institute, Harvard University, Stanford University, the Center for Strategic International Studies and numerous Young Presidents’ Organization, EO and WPO events around the global.

He is a frequent and insightful media commentator on cybersecurity, organizational leadership and technology, with appearances on BBC, CNN, Al Jazeera, PBS, ABC, CBS, NBC, NPR and C-SPAN and major interviews with Reuters, Xinhua, Associated Press, Kommersant, The Washington Post, The Financial Times, The Times of India, Bloomberg, Nihon Keizai Shimbun, Gulf Times, O Globo, Handelsblatt, Le Monde and many more.

Economic theorist
Rod is a trained economist and has contributed to the development of several economic models. He developed “Beckstrom’s Law”, an economic model to establish the value of any network, a critical issue in determining the cost of cyber attacks and a key factor in establishing cyber risk management regimes. The model can help companies optimize their investments in cybersecurity, and can also be used to evaluate new Internet company business models.

After trading derivatives at Morgan Stanley, in 1985 he published the first universal valuation model for interest rate and currency swaps. In 1995 he co-authored An Introduction to VAR, the first book on the theory of value at risk.

Caring for the world at large
A committed philanthropist and environmentalist, Rod has contributed his vision, money and hard work to improving the world we live in.

Since 1993, he has been a trustee or advisory trustee of the Environmental Defense Fund, a respected non-partisan organization combatting global warming and environmental degradation. He co-chaired the Oceans and Climate Change Committees.
For seven years he served as a trustee and advisor to Jamii Bora Trust, an African micro-finance institution that helps more than 200,000 families across Africa by providing loans for micro-businesses, school fees, health and housing.

After witnessing the September 11 attacks in New York City, Rod spent three years building a global network of international CEOs who worked together to develop new pathways to peace. In 2003, just two years after 9/11, that network helped to initiate the historic Wagah border crossing that brought the India-Pakistan war to a peaceful conclusion.

Student days
Rod graduated from Stanford University with a BA with Honors and Distinction, and in 1987 earned an MBA. He served as Chairman of the Council of Presidents of the Associated Students of Stanford University and was a Fulbright Scholar in economics at the University of St. Gallen, Switzerland. He was an exchange student in Germany in 1978-79.

Stanford University