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Passbolt: No Passing the Buck on Password Security 

Kévin Muller, CEO of Passbolt, is grateful for the benign start-up ecosystem in Luxembourg. He says a lesson for start-ups is to build on a free “community edition” before commercializing and monetizing the service but to also accelerate a product launch. He adds that Passbolt is ensuring that its algorithms are quantum computer proof. 

Watch the full interview

Can you describe Passbolt in a few words? 


We had a vision. We knew that there was a need in the market for private and secure management of passwords because it was a solution that we wanted ourselves. We recognized the constant need to collaborate, focusing on passwords and credential management. What we do for clients is to ensure their technical teams can work in a highly collaborative way. This means giving them the agility to handle and share large volumes of passwords. I cannot tell you what the typical company is for us. We meet needs across industries. Passbolt is used in the defense industries, governments, universities, and startups in more than 50 countries. 


What was your path to Passbolt’s vision of password management?  


I was based in India for 15 years where I ran a few companies. Passbolt began with us fixing our own password management issues. Every time we started a new project, we had all our customers' passwords. At first, security was not our prime preoccupation. But you cannot keep passwords in a Word file called “passwords!” We made mistakes. We commercialized too early. We should have built a bigger “fan base” for free but there was pressure to commercialize. We also launched too late. If we had launched in 2012, we would have been the first mover, we would have been the first password manager for teams in the market when there was nobody doing it. We focused too much on our free “Community Edition” which delayed our progress.


“You cannot keep passwords in a Word file called "passwords!"”

How did Luxembourg help to turn the Passbolt project around? 


Things quickly evolved when we got in touch with Lux Innovation and pitched the product to a jury who accepted us. I cannot emphasize how useful it was for us. We sat with coaches who helped us with brainstorming, skills, and elaborating a business plan. Xavier Buck, CEO of Name Space, who was on the jury, offered us our first investment and we developed a business plan to monetize Passbolt. We quickly went from one to two then 10 then 100 customers. Today, we have 1,500 customers worldwide. But challenges remain like ensuring that our algorithms are future-proof in developing quantum resistance cryptography that stays ahead of the accelerating speed of computing.  

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