As most of you already know, the illustrious Bill Brenner (@BillBrenner70) recently announced he will be leaving his current position as Managing Editor at CSOonline and CSO Magazine to become a Senior Program Manager at Akamai Technologies.
This is seemingly a big move for Brenner, a long time security journalist, editor, and blogger known for his mild rantings in CSO’s Salted Hash and his much more stark and personal accounts of dealing with depression and compulsions via the The OCD Diaries. So we got a hold of Brenner and asked him to clarify a few things about the decision to change gigs.
The first question on my mind was just what it was Brenner would be doing for Akamai, and he told me it basically boiled down to telling the company’s story, translating their research findings, and the discussing the services they provide.
“I’ll be blogging as I do now, and I’ll write reports and make multi-media packages,” Brenner said. “My audience will be Akamai customers, but there will be a ton of outreach to the general security public. I’ll still write about the cultural stuff I’m known for, but it’ll be through the Akamai prism.”
Brenner was at CSO for about five years, and under his guidance the publication really took shape and now occupies a special niche in the security media space, but Brenner thought it was time for a change.
“I felt that I was getting too comfortable as Managing Editor of CSO, I needed to move outside the comfort zone,” he said.
“I’ve also written about Akamai often enough to know that there’s a ton of great content there. But up to this point they’ve had no one with the editorial background to make it accessible. It’s an honor to get a shot at making it happen. It’s hard leaving behind such an excellent group of people at IDG, but I was ready for this. Fortunately, thanks to social networking, I can keep in touch with my IDG family.”
Brenner said he is not sure what will happen to his Salted Hash blog on CSO – someone new might continue it, or it might be killed off altogether. But his popular #FFSec Twitter posts will continue from his new perch at Akamai he said, though it will likely take on a different format.
As for the The OCD Diaries, they will continue unabated, Benner said.
“Being asked to end them would have been a deal breaker. It was understood and accepted by all involved that The OCD Diaries was not a negotiable matter. I think that says a lot about how far we’ve come in breaking the stigmas around OCD and other mental disorders. People in general are more open and better educated,” Brenner explained. And no doubt his work here has had a positive impact for many.
As for production on the security media front, Brenner said he expects there will be less output for a spell because of the work it will take to build the new Akamai blog and website presence. “Once everything is in place, I’ll write daily,” Brenner said. “You’ll probably see about three posts a week, in addition to all the other content I’ll be producing.”
So does this mean the openly opinionated Bill Brenner will just become another corporate shill? “Well, I don’t think the ‘reporter’ or ‘journalist’ titles will fit like they used to. But since I believe in what Akamai does, I’m not going to lose any sleep over marketing for them. If that makes me a shill, so be it,” Brenner quipped.
And what about the journalistic latitude he enjoyed at CSO and the other publications he has written for? Will working for a vendor impact his freedom to express his opinions? “I expect to go through a more rigorous vetting process now with PR and such. I understood that from the get-go, and am fine with it,” Brenner noted. “And the travel schedule will probably be about the same, though I certainly wouldn’t mind more of it. I love conferences and site visits.”
Being at Akamai means Brenner will be working with the likes of well known and opinionated industry thought leaders like Andy Ellis (@CSOAndy), Josh Corman (@JoshCorman), and Martin McKaeay (@McKeay).
I had to ask him if they might possibly drive him absolutely insane. In typical self-deprecating Bill Brenner fashion he replied, “Nah, Josh and Martin aren’t in that office, anyway, and I’ve known Andy a long, long time. The better question is whether I’ll drive them insane.”
While Brenner does not know yet who will be trying to fill his shoes at CSO, he does have an inkling of what he would want his legacy to be with the publication. “I’d like to think it will be that I brought attitude and urgency to the brand and made it accessible to a wider audience,” Brenner said. So what will the Bill Brenner epitaph at CSO read? “He ruled here… (laughter),” Brenner replied.
Finally, whenever there is a big life change like this, the family always needs to be taken into consideration. Brenner said his wife Erin was fully supportive of the move. “And when I told the kids, Sean asked how this would change daily life for them. When I said it wouldn’t really, he shrugged and asked for dessert,” Brenner said.
“Me on the other hand, I’m stoked, and can’t wait to get this thing started.”
Video: Bill Brenner on the Role of the Press in the Security Ecosystem
Photos courtesy of Bill sharing too much personal information on the Internet…