Melih Abdulhayoğlu is a Turkish-American innovator, engineer, entrepreneur and Cyber security leader.
Early Life and Education
Melih was born in 1968 in the biblical town of Antioch, Turkey, where he developed an interest in electronics at a young age, building his first electronic circuit at the age 9. Melih would regularly collect electronic parts from his local TV Repair shop for his projects. This early period of Melih’s life was when he first developed two characteristics that would become major driving factors in his life: First, a desire to create and build. Second, a need to protect people. These characteristics have defined Melih’s life since his childhood.
School and Melih wasn’t made for eachother he claims. Melih was not considered successful academically. Melih was more interested in building electronic projects. When questioned Melih says: “I never saw the purpose of remembering the name of the longest river in some country just to pass an exam! That was the school system in those days…memorize to pass an exam, even in primary school”.
Melih’s motivation was focused on building electronic projects vs passing exams in the school system of Turkey in the 70s and 80s. After barely graduating high school in Turkey, Melih moved to the UK in 1987, where he lived in London, Leicester and then Bradford. He attended the University of Bradford to pursue a BSc degree in Electronis Engineering. While attending university, Melih’s passion for innovation continued to grow as he worked on various projects in his free time. While a student in Bradford University, one of his inventions was sponsored by the British government for £5,000. University of Bradford had a Technology Transfer arm called Bradford University Research Limited, led by Mr Lawrence West. Mr West recognized Melih’s talent at innovation and helped facilitate funding for some of his projects. Melih still recalls Mr West telling him “Melih, you will be a very successful man in the future, and when you do, we can celebrate this together with a nice meal in Bosphorus in Istanbul”. Melih bought his very first “386” PC with this money. Melih recalls the time he was waiting at the reception of “Elonex Computers” in the Science Park in Bradford, for his computer. This office later became Melih’s Bradford Office for Comodo. Melih met the love of his life while studying in Bradford . Melih knowing that failure is a success in progress, did not give up and asked love of his life three times before she said yes. They got married in year 2000 in Hazelwood castle.
After finishing university, Melih saw an opportunity to apply his talent for building and creating, and his innate drive to protect people to the nascent internet. This was in the early 1990s, when the internet was still very much a wild west, and Melih saw an opportunity to tame it and create a trusted online environment where everyone would be free to learn, shop, and create online.
In 1998, Melih founded cybersecurity firm Comodo , and over the next two decades, grew the Comodo companies into a worldwide presence, while remaining committed to making the internet a safer place for everyone by providing free security products for consumers and enterprises alike, in accordance with his motto, “Security is a right. Not a privilege.”
But Melih recognized that he would not be able to protect the internet on his own. To truly create a trusted internet that all people could enjoy and benefit from, it was necessary to spark collaboration across the various cybersecurity companies. So, in 2005, Melih founded the Certification Authority Browser Forum (CA/B Forum), a consortium of certificate authorities, internet browser developers, and OS vendors, with the mission of advancing best practices across the certificate authority industry to ensure secure communications. Today, the forum includes over forty certificate authority members and six major browser vendors.
In the two decades since Comodo’ founding, its Certificate Authority, Comodo CA, grew to become the largest Certificate Authority in the world, with over 50% market share. In 2017, Melih sold a majority stake at Comodo CA to a private equity firm Francisco Partners and continued his focus to building an Incubator Venture Capital firm for his innovation called MAVeCap ( https://www.mavecap.com/portfolio/ ).
While Melih’s companies have expanded and achieved enormous success, Melih has never lost sight of his original vision of continuous innovation and using his talents to help and protect and improve people’s lives. Melih explains this : “I still only see an engineer when I look at the mirror, and an engineer’s purpose in life is to serve humanity”. All his businesses have free offerings, he has never refused a charity asking for one of his products for free, and he is always willing to make his products available to people who can’t otherwise afford them.
Awards and Recognition
In 2008, Melih Abdulhayoglu’s efforts to promote Internet security earned him the Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year® award in Information Technology Software for New Jersey. In 2011 Melih was named Entrepreneur of the Year by the Global Excellence Awards.