The ABIE Award for Technology Entrepreneurship recognizes a woman who is the builder of an innovative, ground-breaking, and game-changing technology venture startup (within a larger organization or not). This year’s winner, Dr. Laura Mather, is an engineer and entrepreneur, and one of Silicon Valley’s true talents.
Laura is an expert in cybersecurity, HR technology, nudge technology, and machine learning. She built her career creating innovative software solutions for the National Security Agency (NSA) and eBay. Her doctoral dissertation covered various natural language processing and clustering techniques, including document language detection and more efficient search engine retrieval algorithms. She left academia to put her research into practice.
At the NSA, she was in one of the first “Applied Math Program” classes where she started on of the NSA’s first text mining groups that looked for anomalous text within various intelligence reports. After working for the NSA, she worked for Britannica.com, a division of Encyclopedia Britannica, where she developed their first ever website usage analytics engine. The engine helped Britannica editors decide which articles to update based on observations like, “When a user queries ‘Britney Spears,’ the search results only included articles about ‘Native American weaponry.'”
In 2003, Laura came across a little known department at eBay called Trust and Safety. This group had an interesting problem: online criminals were stealing eBay accounts through fraudulent email — later to become known as “phishing” — to use in defrauding eBay users. Since this problem had never before existed, there were no candidates who had studied it in school. Instead, eBay was looking for someone who “knew a little bit about law enforcement and a little bit about user behavior on websites.” Laura’s unique career path — from NSA to Britannica.com — made her the perfect candidate.
After working at eBay, she turned down a job at Google to found her own cyber security company, Silver Tail Systems, which used real time behavioral analytics to map normal user behavior and identify anomalies in that behavior to prevent online fraud. Silver Tail Systems was so successful they were acquired by RSA/EMC in 2012 for hundreds of millions of dollars.
Laura has consistently made it a priority to advance women in technology and nontraditional fields. She was an Everwise mentor, helping guide high-potential proteges through their first business ventures and developing their leadership capabilities. Now, Laura is focused on developing technology that will help advance women and people of color in Silicon Valley and other sectors where they are perennially underutilized and underrepresented. Her software, Talent Sonar, is the only hiring platform that address unconscious bias at every stage of the hiring process. Instead of just focusing on resume review or structured interviews, Talent Sonar leverages nudge technology and machine learning to remove unconscious bias from every aspect of the process from writing the first job description to conducting the final interview.
Laura was honored as one of Fast Company’s Most Creative People in Business, Fortune’s Most Powerful Women Entrepreneurs, and a Top Global Thinker by Foreign Policy. She is a featured speaker at Techonomy, the NationalCenter for Women in Technology Summit, Fortune’s Most Powerful Women Next Generation Summit, and Ad Week, among others.
Thank you to Neustar, sponsor of the 2017 ABIE Award for Technology Entrepreneurship.