Anthony A. Caputo

Anthony A. Caputo, chairman and chief executive of SafeNet Inc. in White Marsh, is the Baltimore Technology Council's "extraordinary technology advocate" for 2003. (SafeNet Inc. / October 20, 2003)

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  • Anthony Caputo in brief

    Age: 62.

    Residence: West Chester, Pa.

    Personal: Married, three children and three stepchildren.

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Anthony A. Caputo, chairman and chief executive of SafeNet Inc. in White Marsh, recently was named this year's "Baltimore extraordinary technology advocate" by the Greater Baltimore Technology Council.

Caputo joined SafeNet in 1986 as an investor. The company specializes in technology security services. He then became a director. Founded in 1983 by a group of data-security professionals, the company initially was named Information Resource Engineering.

The company changed its name in 2000 and now has 228 employees, with net income of $2.8 million and revenues of $32 million last year. It is scheduled to announce its third-quarter earnings results on Wednesday.

Caputo also founded a computer security firm, TACT Technology Inc., which he managed before joining SafeNet.

He is a member of Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.'s Commission on the Development of Advanced Technology Business, which is tasked with charting a framework for reviving Maryland's the high-tech economy.

In selecting Caputo for the BETA Award, the technology council cited that under Caputo's leadership, "SafeNet has made a difference in the way Greater Baltimore and its tech community are perceived throughout the world." He will be honored at "TechNite 2003" on Oct. 30 at the Baltimore Convention Center.

How does this recognition reflect your efforts?

It's certainly a wonderful honor, but in terms of my efforts, I'm focused on building SafeNet and trying to contribute to the growth of Maryland's technology community. That process was under way before the award -- and it will continue after the award.

I was very surprised after being told I won the award. We, SafeNet, are one of the Maryland companies that is doing very well; we are growing very quickly -- doubling sales last year -- and we intend to double sales this year as well.

We have had several opportunities to leave Maryland, but we decided to stay here. In fact, recently as part of an acquisition of a California company based in Silicon Valley [Cylink Corp., an Internet security firm, for $35.4 million], we not only decided not to move but brought staff from California to Maryland.

What does that mean to you?

It's kind of illustrative of why Maryland is a good place for technology companies. We identified key people from the staff in California -- and even with the poor weather from last winter, 20 out of 25 people chose to come to Maryland.

Maryland has a standard of living that is 20 percent less than Silicon Valley, so those people are coming here and are having a finer quality of life. That is a major strength that Maryland has over other parts of the country.

SafeNet has been profitable despite tough times in the technology industry and the economy in general. How did you accomplish this growth?

Basically, by focusing on market segments where growth opportunities exist today. Over the years, we have been able to establish several different sales channels for our products. Those channels are sufficiently diversified, so that if one channel -- such as large financial institutions -- is not spending much money, which seems to be the case today, another channel -- government customers, for instance -- is spending a lot of money.

We adjust our focus and our investments to the areas of the economy where there are growth opportunities.

What did you do differently such that SafeNet has weathered the technology bust?

We were not so caught up in the Internet bubble. We were a part of it -- and in 1999 and 2000, we grew rapidly. We did not, however, buy into the belief that the bubble was going to last forever. As a result, we did not overspend.

Therefore, we were in sound financial position when the tech downturn came in 2001. We had a couple of bad quarters, but we were able to adjust very quickly and start running again. ... We were not faced with a huge correction. We just had to make some minor tweaks. In most cases, we reassigned people into different positions.