Inc. has been publishing a list of the fastest growing American companies since 1979. The magazine started by shining a spotlight on the top 100 publicly held small companies before gradually expanding to rank the top 5,000 fastest growing privately held companies.
For the first time in the history of the Inc. list, the top spot has been captured by a privacy technology company.
On Wednesday, the magazine named OneTrust as the fastest growing privately held company in America. The 2020 Inc. 5,000 ranks companies based on their percentage annual growth from 2016 to 2019. OneTrust had an annual growth of 48,337% over the three-year period.
OneTrust CEO Kabir Barday, CIPP/E, CIPP/US, CIPM, CIPT, FIP, knows this isn't just an important honor for his company. The companies on the Inc. list span every industry and sector in America and its top spot is now occupied by an organization devoted to privacy. For Barday, the message couldn't be clearer.
Privacy is now mainstream.
"I hope that the entire industry takes a moment to reflect on it. We all have played a role in creating this industry, and the fact is it is just getting started," said Barday. "The fact that a privacy company has had this type of growth this early in the market is a signal of just how big this is."
Barday called the Inc. 5,000 the "definitive, authoritative list of the fastest growing companies in America." Due to its prestige, OneTrust had tried to be included in its previous iterations. Barday said OneTrust had never been able to surpass the high bar of entry until this year.
"When you look at the companies and the growth rate that’s at the top of the list, it’s mind boggling growth numbers," Barday said. "We top the list at [48,337%] per year growth rate. You don’t ever think that’s in a league that is ever in reach for anybody because the numbers are just silly. There’s a lot that has to go right."
While plenty has gone right for the company so far, Barday does not believe OneTrust will be the only privacy tech vendor to find its way onto the Inc. 5,000 list.
In fact, Barday said he hopes to see other vendors achieve growth surges, as it would signal that the privacy market is a thriving one.
"There a lot of great companies in the market and a sign of a healthy market is that there are a lot of fast growing companies," said Barday. "There’s no shortage of privacy tech vendors and competitors we face in the market, and we have a lot of respect knowing how hard it takes to build a business in this market. I sure hope to see a number of companies make the list in the coming years."
Privacy tech vendors should not be the only group to take note of OneTrust's recognition. Barday said privacy professionals could leverage privacy's mainstream status as they fight to bring compliance requirements to the attention of the C-suite.
Barday added privacy professionals can point to the list as a reason to invest in privacy, because if their organization does not take privacy seriously, they can likely bet their competition will.
"Five years ago, privacy wasn’t something that companies could compete on. It was just a compliance checkbox function. Privacy has now become increasingly something that companies can compete on," Barday said. "We are seeing that every day in how consumers make buying decisions based on trust. I think it’s a great moment for the privacy professional to use that as a point to bring up in their board meetings to get increased visibility and investment in their function."
OneTrust will take time to reflect on its achievement. Barday said the company will launch several initiatives to recognize the work of its staff. He also wants to show gratitude to the investors who initially took a chance on OneTrust in its early days.
Investors don't always have to mean venture capitalists. Barday believes OneTrust has to honor another group of investors that took a risk on him and his team: The customers.
"In an early market, customers are equally taking a chance on you, and this is a first time a lot of privacy people have bought technology," said Barday. "A big part of their ability to be successful in their roles to deliver their executive reports and stay off the regulators’ radar is the promise of technology, and the fact that so many privacy professionals took a chance on us is not lost on me."
Privacy has broken into the mainstream, and it does not look like it will vacate the collective conscious of the business world any time soon. The profession is constantly changing and evolution is necessary, whether it's the adjustments that come from new legislation to the widespread ramifications of using technology to combat a global pandemic.
Barday said that progression not only keeps OneTrust motivated to continue moving forward, but it's also fascinating to watch and adapt to those changes as they continue to come.
"There’s very little repetition and complacency in this market," said Barday. "You turn around and 'Schrems II' happens. You turn around and [the California Privacy Rights Act] happens. You turn around and the go live date for the LGPD changes. From an intellectual and academic perspective, it makes things really interesting to see how all these things play out."
Photo by JJ Ying on Unsplash
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