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Tripwire Co-founder and technology industry giant William Wyatt Starnes has passed away on May 10th at the age of 59.

Starnes had co-founded Tripwire Inc. in 1997 with Gene Kim, a former student of Gene Spafford from Purdue University, and was known as an outgoing and driven personality.

“He was a mentor. He was a real person. He really was very positive about others,” Spafford said of his longtime friend and colleague.

All who knew Starnes agree he was a powerful force in the IT security and technology field. “He had a natural gift with people. He was very charismatic. He formed long-lasting relationships that spanned decades,” reflectedKim, who wrote the software that he and Starnes later built Tripwire’s security solutions suite around.

“He was the person who first saw the business potential. If not for Wyatt, it probably would have remained an academic research project,” Kim said.

After leaving Tripwire, Starnes forged on in his pioneering manner, founding SignaCert, which was acquired by Harris Corp in 2010. Starnes retired a few years later in 2012 after a series of health problems which made him a more reflective and philosophical type, according to those who knew him well.

“Twenty-four/seven, he was always on. I would get emails from him at crazy hours, day and night. That kind of set the pace for the rest of us,” recalled Dwayne Melancon, Tripwire’s chief technology officer. “He took joy out of business, and then he found joy from the rest of his life.”

Kim agrees, saying that “there definitely was a before-cancer Wyatt and an after-cancer Wyatt. He was more reflective. Not less driven, but an easier-going Wyatt.”

The Oregon Entrepreneurial Network plans to establish a memorial fund in Wyatt’s honor to support early-stage Oregon entrepreneurs.

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