10 Things You Didn’t Know About Todd McKinnon

Todd McKinnon

Todd McKinnon is a businessperson who is best known as the co-founder and CEO of Okta. This is an identity and access management company that was founded in 2009 and is based in San Francisco. Although McKinnon is relatively well known in industry circles, there are many things that people do not know about this businessman. Here are 10 things you probably did not know about Todd McKinnon.

1. He Worked for Salesforce.com

According to McKinnon’s profile on the Okta website, McKinnon worked for Salesforce.com prior to founding Okta. When he took on the role of Head of Engineering, his team consisted of just 15 people. This then grew to a team of 250. He also expanded the daily transactions of the service from two million to 150 million. Prior to working for Salesforce.com, he worked at PeopleSoft in various engineering and leadership roles.

2. McKinnon Has a Master’s Degree

Before beginning his career, McKinnon studied for a B.S. in management and information systems at Brigham Young University. He extended his education further by achieving an M.S. in computer science from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.

3. He Contributes to Publications

Despite having a busy working life, Todd McKinnon also contributes to various industry publications. Some of the publications to which he regularly contributes include the Wall Street Journal Accelerators, Fortune, Forbes, and Fast Company.

4. His Wife Took Some Convincing About Okta

McKinnon has been with his wife, Roxanne since they met in high school. Although McKinnon had a steady job in a well-paid senior position at Salesforce.com, he was bored in his role. His dream was to start his own company. However, he knew that his wife would take some convincing that it was a good idea to disrupt their stable lifestyle to take the risk of founding a new company. According to CNBC, he used a Google Slides presentation to convince her it was a good idea. He gave his presentation the title ‘Proposal to move to a new job starting a company (Why I’m Not Crazy).

5. He Chose an Unusual Time to Launch a New Company

For personal reasons, McKinnon chose a strange time to start a new business. At the time, he and his wife Roxanne had a six-month-old daughter. He had also been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, which meant that health care was important. This was a benefit he faced losing if he quit his steady job. It was also a strange time economically as there was an economic slump. McKinnon argues that both Oracle and Microsoft were launched during economically poor times. His other argument was that he was in a good position financially and that he could get another job if his business wasn’t working within 18 months.

6. McKinnon Doesn’t Like People Leaving Okta

McKinnon told Business Insider that when he left Salesforce.com, CEO Marc Benioff was angry. McKinnon asked Benioff for funding to start his company, and Benioff refused. At the time, McKinnon couldn’t understand why. Now that he has his own company, he has gained a better understanding. When people leave Okta, he doesn’t like it and takes it personally. McKinnon has said that he and Benioff had never been in a bad place despite Benioff’s anger at him leaving.

7. He Goes Home for Dinner Every Night

When McKinnon was convincing his wife that starting his own company was a good idea, she agreed but gave him one condition. Roxanne said that he had to promise to come for dinner every night. This is a promise that he has kept. He always makes sure he has left the office by 7 pm. McKinnon believes that this has made him a better CEO as it allows him to have a cut-off, take a breather, and spend some time with his family. He also says it has given him a broader perspective. However, he often feels guilty if he has gone home and others are still in the office. Therefore, he often works from home after his family dinner.

8. He Does Not Have an Office

According to CNN, McKinnon has never had his own office since starting his own company. McKinnon says that this was a deliberate decision. He wants his employees to feel like his company is their company, so he doesn’t think that those in leadership roles should act like big shots with privileges. He prefers open offices where everyone can work together. This is better for communication and makes everyone feel as though they are part of the same team.

9. He Believes in Flexible Working Environments

McKinnon believes that having a flexible approach to work is beneficial to both his company and his employees. He thinks it contributes to a sense of ownership and empowerment, and that it keeps his employees motivated. His engineers wanted one day a week without having a meeting, so Thursday became a meeting-free day. It is also now optional for employees to work from home on this day. Furthermore, McKinnon decided to hire more remote workers. His reasoning behind this decision is that he wants to attract the best talent without the logistics of location and travel getting in the way. McKinnon has realized that there is a move towards a remote culture, and this will allow him to hire the best people with skills in various disciplines.

10. He Enjoys Exercise

Although he has a very busy lifestyle with running a company and his family responsibilities, Todd McKinnon does find time to relax and enjoy his hobbies in his free time. When he is not working, he likes to spend his time exercising. He also enjoys the simple pleasures in life, such as spending time with his family.


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