How Jeff Shiner Made 1Password a $9-billion Business

Last year, Shiner broke records with the company's Series C funding, and brought on celebrity partner Ryan Reynolds
Jeff Shiner (Photograph: Anthony Baca)

1Password, a platform for secure password storage, was a small operation with just 20 staff members when it recruited Jeff Shiner from Rosetta in 2012. The platform had its fans—individual users who appreciated its intuitive design—but Shiner reimagined it for businesses, a decision that helped boost its user base into the millions. Last year’s record-breaking $744-million Series C funding—the largest in Canadian history—valued 1Password at over $9 billion and scored its first celebrity spokesman, Ryan Reynolds, one of its many famous investors. Using the capital infusion to scale, the company recently acquired Texas start-up Passage to move toward a “passwordless” future (think face and fingerprint ID), which experts believe is the solution to fighting fraud.

Title: CEO, 1Password

Degree: B.Math., University of Waterloo

Age: 55

From: Windsor, Ont.

Currently lives in: Waterloo, Ont.

When I was a kid, I thought I’d grow up to be: A computer programmer. My dad taught electrical engineering, which started my fascination. I spent many hours in my basement with my Commodore 64. I just wanted to solve problems with computers. One summer, as a teen, I was working at the Canadian National Exhibition, and I built a program to help the midway booths manage their inventory and expenses.

My first job ever was: I was 12 and did corn detasselling for 11 hours a day. It was all fine until it rained. Then we’d be wearing garbage bags and have 20 pounds of mud in our boots.

If I wasn’t doing this, I would be: Farming. I spend all my free time at my farm in Puslinch, Ont., where I’ve got an excavator and a tractor. That’s how I escape reality.

“Know your product, know your customers and love them both”

A significant challenge I had to overcome was: Being the CEO of a large company is lonely. You’re trying to be the rock for others, but you’re always conscious of the power imbalance. It’s even more difficult when the challenges are less about work and you’re just having a bad day. That’s when I lean on my external network—other CEOs like Tobi Lütke from Shopify and Mike Murchison from Ada.

Something that really needs to change in my industry is: We need to solve security problems as a people problem, not as an IT problem. IT solutions are trying to make up for humans’ bad habits. We need to remove the reward that scammers are after—your credentials. That’s why passkeys are so exciting.

Related: How You Can Protect Your Data from Cybercriminals

The thing that keeps me motivated is: Every year, there are more breaches, more phishing attacks, more threats that real people face. Everyone knows somebody who’s been impacted. The threats are becoming more believable with generative AI. And we have the ability to help.

The moment I knew I’d made it was: It was cool to be on a call with Ryan Reynolds. He’s a 1Password user and an astute business person, so it was pretty easy to pitch our Series C funding to him. And then we did a commercial with him. It was tons of fun.

The advice I always give others now is: Know your product, know your customers and love them both.