Introducing Don Thibeau: the OpenID Foundation’s new executive director

Published February 20, 2009
The OpenID Foundation is happy to introduce Don Thibeau as our new executive director. Don is taking over from Bill Washburn who helped get the Foundation off the ground. Even with the substantial momentum that OpenID has gained already in 2009, Don has his work cut out for him beyond our two main priorities of improving user experience and security along with increasing our outreach to and engagement of website operators and end users. To get a sense for his priorities and anticipated plans for the Foundation, I asked him some introductory questions:
  1. Q: How did you first learn about OpenID and what interests you in the technology? A: I have been working with web transactions, privacy policy and identity validation for a while now. So I've been watching OpenID from the sidelines. I've wanted to take a deeper dive in how social networks overlays those issues. The Foundation is at the intersection of those issues and more. There's no better place to be.
  2. Q: What challenges do you think OpenID faces that it must confront in 2009? A: First and always, continue to balance the interests and be responsive to all stakeholders, community members, and corporate sponsors, etc. Second, to deal effectively with success. That means to make sure the Foundation can responsibly sustain and accelerate the momentum now underway.
  3. Q: What technologies or services suggest where you think the web will go over the next several years? A: I know we at the beginning of the era of social networking. But I'm not smart enough to know where the web will go. That's one of the things I like about this space. I do know the OpenID can be a "Front Door" for the web experience for people, for users, for members across the board.
  4. Q: What experience do you have that you intend to bring to the OIDF? A: I have a career-long interest in identity authentication and a personal passion for protecting individual privacy. It is a painful irony that is seems our physical identity is more protected than our digital identities. I come from the content creation and online transactions world. I have the benefit of learning from naive and failed attempts at walled gardens — proprietary plays and the like. So collaboration is more than a mantra: it's the only way this work gets done on a corporate, community and personal level.
  5. Q: As ED, what will be your top three priorities? A: My short-term priorities are to build a foundation for growth. It's not sexy but "plumbing" is important. So my immediate focus will be on making sure the Foundations' finances and governance issues are solid. The third priority is to begin planning for a major OIDF event later in the year.
  6. Q: What are you most looking forward to with regards to OpenID in 2009? A: I am blown away by with the level of engagement from all stakeholders. The make-up of the new board reflects how articulate, diverse and committed the community is. A physics professor of mine pointed out the high correlation between passion and success. The OIDF seems to have both in abundance.
If you'd like to reach out to Don and welcome him, you can contact him via email at or leave a comment right here.