Self-styled gentleman hacker Michael Tiffany is standing down as chief exec of White Ops.
On Wednesday, the company announced that Tiffany, who co-founded White Ops in 2013, is transitioning to the president role, where he’ll work more closely with the engineers focusing on product innovation and on evangelizing fraud prevention in the industry.
Sandeep Swadia, former chief operating officer at retargeting platform Magnetic, will take over as CEO.
Before three years at Magnetic, Swadia spent time as CRO of interactive content creation company Scrollmotion and at Leaf Group (previously Demand Media) as SVP of strategy and business development.
“As the company grows, the scope grows,” Tiffany said. “With this change, I don’t have to be disconnected from the product direction, from the core white-hat hacking mission.”
Although the landscape has changed as buyers – and bot operators – get smarter, the company mission has remained the same, which is to defund cybercrime and ad fraud, Tiffany said.
“When we first began we were just one voice calling out the fact that this is a big deal and that the societal impact is vast,” he said. “And now there’s a chorus of people, both buyers like P&G, but also sellers in the ecosystem. that want to win this war because they won’t want to be competing against what’s fake.”
Swadia plans to concentrate on product strategy and on staffing up with new hires across the organization, especially engineers, “to double down on the company’s core: fighting ad fraud,” he said. Current total headcount stands at roughly 60.
Ad fraud is actually projected to go down this year, from $7.2 billion to $6.5 billion, according to the most recent bot report released by White Ops and the Association of National Advertisers in May.
“The bad actors are getting more and more sophisticated over time,” Swadia said. “That’s why it’s going to be a long game. You can’t just go nuclear on all this [because] they are getting smarter.”
Smarter, but also more embattled, Tiffany said.
“The way to win an arms race is by running it longer than everyone else,” he said. “It’s about depriving the other side of resources and tilting the playing field in your favor. By undermining the profit mechanisms, you deprive the criminal underground of the resources to innovate. If you raise the cost to play and you decrease the profits, the reward is smaller for a harder game.”