“Security is the core of what we do. The integrity of the data is the integrity of our company.”
On this episode of Too Embarrassed to Ask, Recode’s Kara Swisher and The Verge’s Lauren Goode are joined by the CEO of Clear, Caryn Seidman Becker, to talk about Clear’s biometric identity product. Becker bought Clear at a bankruptcy sale in 2010 because she felt it was still a good idea, just poorly executed. Clear’s biometric identity verifier is now in 24 airports (34 next year) and eight sports stadiums.
You can read some of the highlights from the discussion here, or listen to it in the audio player above. Below, we’ve posted a lightly edited complete transcript of their conversation.
If you like this, be sure to subscribe to Too Embarrassed to Ask on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Pocket Casts, Overcast or wherever you listen to podcasts.
Kara Swisher: Hi, I’m Kara Swisher, executive editor of Recode.
Lauren Goode: I’m Lauren Goode, senior technology editor at The Verge.
KS: You’re listening to Too Embarrassed to Ask, coming to you from the Vox Media podcast network. This is a show where we answer all of your embarrassing questions about consumer tech.
LG: It could be anything at all, like whether we could outsource Kara’s job to someone wearing an exoskeleton suit.
KS: Absolutely, 100 percent.
LG: I think it’s quite possible.
KS: I can’t wait.
LG: And I’d like to get started. Did you see my latest Next Level Video?
KS: I did.
LG: In the senior finale I wore multiple exoskeleton suits.
KS: And you didn’t come for me, which was fascinating. You didn’t even bother to try to take me down.
LG: Not yet.
KS: Not yet, uh oh. All right, so send us your questions. Find us on Twitter or tweet them to @recode or myself or to Lauren — who does have a show called Next Level, which you should watch on YouTube and other places — with the #tooembarrassed.
LG: We also … Thank you for that plug.
KS: No problem.
LG: We also have an email address, it’s firstname.lastname@example.org, because we love the net. Reminder, there are two Rs.
KS: There are two Rs.
LG: And two Ss in embarrassed.
KS: Yes, if you want to spell it correctly, otherwise you can spell it any way you want.
LG: Otherwise you may miss it. Spell it any way you want.
KS: Spell it any way you want.
LG: We’re just not going to answer your questions on the show.
LG: A lot of our listens are probably going to find themselves traveling over the next few days if they haven’t been traveling already because it’s the holiday season and…
KS: Not me, I’m not going anywhere.
LG: Lucky you.
KS: I know.
LG: I travel back and forth to the East Coast a lot.
KS: I do too. I do also.
LG: I know that’s true, you do. You travel back and forth to D.C. …
KS: Yes, but not at Christmas.
LG: … Trying to talk some sense into the people down there.
LG: If you don’t wait in ridiculously long airport longs it’s probably because you’ve gone through some type of advanced vetting process or a service like Precheck, Global Entry or Clear.
KS: Yes indeed. Honestly, we want to talk about the difference between all of these. I actually have Clear, which I love, and I’ve had it since it started, actually. I also have Precheck. I’m going to do Global Entry, so I’ve availed myself of these services a lot over many, many years, actually. I do think they’re fantastic, but we want to talk about what’s the difference, is one better than the other, should you think twice about where your fingerprint or other biometric information is going. Every time they take a picture of my eyes I think about that. In order to get access to these fast lanes and they certainly are…
LG: Speaking of fast lanes, are we talking about net neutrality again?
KS: No. If Comcast can find a way to screw this up they will. Anyway, oh they’re our owner, sorry. Too bad. Anyway, so…
LG: They’re not our owners, are they?
KS: Yes, they are one of our owners.
LG: We got masters.
KS: Masters, investors, whatever, they own a lot of us. In any case, we don’t care. We are for net neutrality. Is that right, we’re for it? That’s right.
LG: Everyone should go back and listen to last week’s episode with Jessica Rosenworcel from the FCC, because she joined us and it was great.
KS: So we’re not just talking about airports and other places, there’s all kinds of ways you can jump lanes, essentially. We’re delighted to be joined in the studio by Caryn Seidman Becker, the CEO of Clear. It’s now found in 24 airports and eight sport stadiums. Caryn, welcome to Too Embarrassed to Ask.
Caryn Seidman Becker: Thanks, happy to be here. Nothing’s embarrassing…
KS: Nothing’s embarrassing.
All questions are good questions.
LG: Oh good, that’s good. I have a question for you that I’m too embarrassed to ask. I was doing some research into your background, your career …
LG: … in preparation for this podcast and I stumbled upon a Forbes articles. Literally the first sentence of this Forbes article — now literally, you are CEO and a chairwoman and you’ve got this impressive career — and the first sentence of this Forbes article is, “Anybody who has kids knows that raising them is a full-time job.” Then of course I went to the byline and it was a man who wrote it. I thought, “How have we started this article asking the question about kids and balancing?” Really? I can’t wait to read an article about a male CEO where the first sentence is, “Anyone who has kids …”
KS: She was mad.
LG: I’m not too embarrassed to ask what you thought about that.
So here’s what I think about that. I wrote once on LinkedIn where I said I don’t believe in work/life balance, it’s just about life. I wrote that on a plane coming home from vacation with my three kids where you hide in the bathroom with your cellphone to do work, and you go out and you smile, and you play, and then you run around the corner like you’re going to get a drink and you answer some more emails. It’s life and it’s…
KS: Do you pretend like that? I don’t pretend like that, I just do it.
LG: In any case, good for you.
You’re supposed to be present. I just came from this Deepak Chopra talk. My kids have made me more paranoid, and more neurotic, and were part of what fueled me to lead the acquisition of Clear out of bankruptcy. My view is if you want to include them in the story, great, they’re part of the inspiration and I’ll take all parts of it. Fair point, that that’s what he led with but I’m super proud of every aspect of my life so lead with whatever part you want.
LG: Yeah that’s not to minimize the role.
I wasn’t completely …
LG: You don’t see that a lot with profiles of male CEOs with the kids.
KS: That’s a whole other show, but you’re 100 percent right, I agree. I’ve had that happen to me a million times.
Anyway, let’s start on Clear. You talked about leading it out of … Give the background of Clear. I have had Clear for many years and then I couldn’t use it and then I could use it again. It was great, I was thrilled when it came back. Explain the background of Clear.
Clear was around, really it launched in 2005 so I have to assume it was really started in 2003 by Steve Brill, backed by GE and Lockheed …
KS: Famous publisher, everything.
… And Lehman Brothers as a response to 9/11. TSA was newly formed, it was like an amalgamation. Truly a startup, they put 60,000 employees together in a few months. I think they were looking at public/private partnerships. And that was the launch of Clear, a smart-card-based, biometric-based fast lane in the airport as another way to create known travelers.
KS: And they had lovely people and you went and got your eyes and your fingerprints. This was way before the TSA thing.
Correct, and very early on in biometrics. It also was leveraged, so it had about $ 30 million of debt, so that was interesting for a startup up and it had a big cost structure and it was in 18 airports, but 80 percent of their members came from six airports. The economic downturn came. Steve Brill, he exited the company in early 2008. Seats were down 22 percent, corporate spending on travel evaporated, the debt was coming due and they shut down.
KS: Great idea, bad execution.
LG: It went bankrupt in 2009.
It went bankrupt. It shut down in June 2009 because you’d be taking capital to fund new growth that you could no longer afford. It shut down on June 22nd and filed for bankruptcy end of 2009, and we bought it in April 2010.
KS: Why? What was the thinking? Great idea.
Two reasons, three reasons. One, I come from asset management. I had invested in subscription-based business like cable, wireless and satellite, Homeland Security, aerospace and defense companies. I was a big believe in biometrics and actually invested in them both publicly and privately. Huge outside the U.S., not inside the U.S. I’m a glutton for punishment, love a turnaround, I’m a contrarian by nature, Clear was the convergence of all that and I didn’t want to die and have people say, “She picked good stocks.” I wanted to build something that made the world a better place. Clear was that platform and so that’s why we bought it.
KS: What attracted you to that as a thing? I have to say, I’ve never been happier to pay for something, in a lot of ways.
Okay, so here’s what attracted us. The company went bankrupt, took your money, didn’t provide a service, didn’t answer the phone and tell you where your biometrics were. I’d be sitting next to people at dinner who would whip out their card and be like, “I love Clear.” So that dislocation between Wall Street and the mainstream.
KS: Yeah I was mad about this at first, too.
People loved it and it went out in the ugliest way. That says that there’s an opportunity there, that people valued it. We wanted to build a secure identity platform. I’d always invested in platforms, whether it be Apple or Priceline or health care companies. What we saw was that airports were just the first part of it. That’s the highest security point.
Think about it like Amazon with books. It’s the hardest place to master but if you can bring it there you can bring it to so many different places. And security and the challenges around it are a global secular trend, and customers are expecting a frictionless experience as of right here, just-in-time, point-and-click economy.
KS: Using technology.
That’s why …
KS: What happened?
LG: It’s like your favorite show getting canceled after the first season and you hear people and they’re like, “I love that show,” and it becomes a cult classic but then you don’t understand the machinations behind the scenes.
KS: Like “Double Trouble” in the ’80s. Still missing that one.
LG: What was also going on — in 2010 when you came in and you acquired it — what was going on in the market at that point? Because it was only two years after the collapse of all the banks. So had the travel market changed enough that you felt confident about it at that point?
No, what our due diligence said — and we used our own capital to buy the company, so we were owner/operators — what our due diligence said was, No. 1, that biometrics are actually incredibly economically efficient and this should have been a successful business model if the cost structure was different.
No. 2, the platform could be used in a variety of other places. No. 3, we bought it for pennies on the dollar.
KS: So it was cheap.
Happiness is a low bar. And it was low.
KS: What happened to the biometrics that they had? I remember it was sort of like Russian nukes being loose or something like that.
So they weren’t. I think there was a lot of rumors and noise. Lockheed Martin was the back end for the old company, so all the biometric data was secured at Lockheed Martin. In fact, part of the process was that was securely transferred over to Clear. I think, again, there was a vacuum of information, like no one was picking up the phone.
KS: Who was watching it at Lockheed Martin? Why was Lockheed Martin watching?
LG: It’s like, “Don’t worry, the defense contractor has it.”
Lockheed and GE were two of the initial investors of the former Clear, so they were providing a lot of services. GE used to be really big in the security business.
KS: They were protected, allegedly.
It was protected.
KS: Protected, and then it was then transferred to the new company. Did you have to go through any hoops to do that? I think one of the things that people have a problem with biometrics, and we’ll talk a little bit about that, is that it’s everywhere. When I gave it up I remember thinking, “Oh well, someday when they come get me they’ll find me easily.” I remember thinking that.
Right, so that’s not the right way to think but I can understand.
KS: I understand that, but I had just … Do you remember “Barb Wire,” that movie with Pamela Anderson? No, you don’t. It’s a fantastic movie. Please rent it because there’s a lot of biometrics in it, if you like biometrics. It wasn’t supposed to be her starring in it, a friend of mine wrote it, Ilene Chaiken, and it was about using eyes. Just like they did in a bunch of movies, they’ve had the idea of eyes, especially eyes.
Look, security is the core of what we do. The integrity of the data is the integrity of our company. And we’ve started every day, from Day One … I come from investing in public companies, like we were a public company of doing everything in the highest security with the highest regulatory oversight. We’re a qualified anti-terrorism technology. It’s been the core of everything we do.
I think the biggest misnomer is it’s not your fingerprints and your iris image, it is templates. It is not your actual fingerprint, it’s templates that are deconstructed into ones and zeros that are then reconstructed, encrypted at rest, encrypted in transmission. I understand nobody wants to hear that but that is the reality.
LG: Could they be decrypted?
Again, there’s backward hash, they’re proprietary technology systems. So the answer is no.
You do everything … Look, we spent some time in Israel this summer. The one guy said to me, “You could spend $ 2 billion and it doesn’t matter.” The fact of the matter is that we do everything to secure the data every day in every way possible and have constructed our systems accordingly.
KS: Well, it’s the heart of your business, one bad terrorist is going to ruin your business, essentially.
KS: Like that you let through. Talk about how it works. Why don’t we talk about how it works now and how it’s different from when it did work.
KS: Just from my experience, I go in, I show my iris or for some reason fingerprints don’t work as well because I must be an international criminal of some sort. Then it pops up my picture from 2005 or maybe earlier, it looks earlier.
Do you want to update it? Are you happy?
KS: No, it’s okay. I’m good. Then they ask me if I want a drink for some reason, recently. If I want…
KS: Do you know you do that?
I do. That hasn’t been done for a few years, we were trialing…
KS: No, they just did it in San Francisco, they do it all the time.
LG: Like an alcoholic drink?
KS: No, like do you want water, or food, water, they order stuff, preorder.
We’re doing some touch-to-pay piloting.
KS: Anyway, so then I go through and they take me to the front of the line, which is delightful and everyone looks at me, “Who are you? Who the hell do you think you are?” I get yelled at all the time.
Do you tell them you’re Kara Swisher?
KS: No, exactly. I said, “I’m very important. I’m a celebrity.”
LG: I’m on Silicon Valley coming to see me?
KS: But I do get a lot of grumbling and I don’t care, I don’t care, I pay for it and I gave them my iris so I can do this. I go right through, and it’s great, and they clear you through. You get waived past the security people.
Recently they’ve been making me reshow your license, which was interesting in D.C., that just happened. It’s a delight. It’s a delightful experience. All your people are lovely.
LG: So right now … Oh, I’m sorry to interrupt. Right now when someone goes to sign up they’re giving over that information, talk about what people are …
KS: Talk about what they do now.
LG: What would have to happen.
From an enrollment perspective, two points. We view biometrics as the bridge between strengthening security and delighting customers. Creating this frictionless experience and this customer-centric experience is really important. You can enroll in less than three minutes. If no one’s speaking to you and you’re actually just flowing with the … it’s three minutes. When someone’s talking to you it tends to be four or five.
What we’re doing is we’re digitally authenticating your ID document, that could be your driver’s license, your military card, your green card. This is definitively a real document because a fake ID you could not be the person on the ID, it’s a real document. You then take a personalized data quiz, you went through the old enrollment.
KS: I went physically down to the spot, that’s where I went.
This happens in person. You can do most of it online but this is a piece that happens in person today, we digitally authentic your driver’s license or whatever ID. You are the person on that driver’s license. We then take your fingerprints, your iris image and your photo, building an impermeable link between your identity and your biometrics. We also take your credit card. At the end of the day, when you enroll we essentially fuse you with your wallet. Why are you walking around with your driver’s license, your credit card, your Costco card, your health insurance card, your building access card? You are it, access and entitlements are rooted in identity. We also have your frequent flier number. We have a partnership with Delta. What we’re then doing is using that for a variety of different touchpoints.
When you talk about Clear, you started at the security checkpoint, but if you’re in D.C. or Atlanta we have biometric boarding and biometric lounge access. If you’re in Minneapolis we have biometric bag drop. We have biometric boarding pass where we also have the patent where we’ve built an API into the reservation system. The whole point is the seamless curb-to-gate experience that we’re putting together.
KS: Yeah, I don’t know why I need to check in.
You should take nothing out of your bag or your wallet when you go through the airport because you are you and that’s what you’re trying to prove 10 times over at the ticketing gate, at the agent. So that’s what we’re building. I think what transformed the company and the experience from when we started and from when you started was going to the cloud. In 2014, when we went over to the cloud we went to GovCloud and that was transformative because you lost the card, you didn’t need the card anymore, which is huge.
KS: No I don’t, but I still have it. I like it, I like it.
Interestingly so many people have it.
KS: I like it. It’s a pretty card.
LG: It’s like having a t-shirt from a startup in 2001.
KS: I have it in my wallet right now, I can show it to you before you go.
That’s so interesting. You could enroll and use it immediately. It went from a three-month sales cycle essentially to an immediate impulse purchase and that was really transformative.
KS: And then at the airport …
LG: I have some questions about the face scan.
KS: At the airport you have to authentic yourself, right? You have to go to a Clear stand..
KS: At the airport.
Obviously that’s really important from a secure enrollment. It’s not your kid on your identity, on your cellphone at home attaching their fingerprints or iris to your identity. It is definitively you.
KS: That’s the last part, right.
That link is really important. We are looking at ways to do it in a mobile secure fashion, but today it is in person.
LG: Are you getting a 3-D face scan done? Is that part of the process?
Yes, we have facial recognition.
LG: But that’s volumetric? It’s not just someone’s flat face that could be spoofed with a photo but it’s actually interpreting volume.
That is correct, although I will tell you that we just went through this testing, fingerprint is five nines.
LG: Five nines? What do you mean?
Like 99.999% from a matching and an accuracy perspective.
LG: I see. Fingerprint ridges.
Facial for the highest security purposes is not ready for primetime in terms of five nines. People talk about 98.9, 99.2. The fact of the matter is that for high-security reasons in busy areas, depending on the lighting, depending on the things, you still need multi-factor authentication for facial, so we are not …
KS: Also “Mission Impossible” faces too.
LG: Also Kara Swisher sunglasses.
Today, for the security checkpoints that are using fingerprints and iris image, we are just rolling out this week in a pilot in the lounges facial where you don’t need five nines at a checkpoint to prove you’re you.
KS: Free cheese, whatever.
What we’ve done is taken all the biometrics — and I think there’s going to be more over time — whether it be face or gait or whatever the case may be, we’re agnostic. What you want to do is put different solutions together based on your use case. If it’s bottled water at the corner, facial is good enough. If it’s to get on an airplane, if it’s to come into the country, if it’s something where…
KS: Fingerprints are…
… You need to be five nines fingerprints.
LG: Is multi-factor. In the case of the Delta partnership you mentioned … And Delta also, I believe, bought a 4 percent stake in Clear. You’re working with Delta, that’s for boarding passes. Get rid of boarding passes, you have biometric boarding passes, that’s the idea. Does the airline then also have all of that biometric data that I’ve given to Clear?
LG: How does that work?
No. We have the data. We do not sell or share your data, that is rule one, secure the data, protect the privacy. What your biometrics are in that case is a frequent flier number. All we’re sending to Delta is your frequent flier number, which is you, which is then doing a match with all the other things that we have and they send back a ticket. At the end of the day, a boarding pass on your phone or a piece of paper is a physical manifestation of a digital record in the back end. It’s all in secure flight, then the reservation system of the airlines.
But we’re actually doing so much more with Delta. Part of their core focus is customer experience and innovation, and it’s great that we’re so focused on it but if no airline wanted to do it with us … It’s like if a tree falls in the woods. Delta’s been … Look, the company went bankrupt before and ticked off a lot of people. I think we had to prove that we were something very different, and really customer-centric, and partner-centric, and security-centric, and sustainability-centric. Delta really focused on customer experience and innovation throughout the …
KS: So it was looking for ways to differentiate itself.
From the time you leave your house to the time you get to where you’re going. When you look at what has changed over the past 50 years, airline travel is not one of them, from an airport perspective.
KS: Worse. It’s worse.
When you look at technology transforming so many different industries it is the time. When you look at the security needs you’ve got to evolve and technology’s going to take you there.
KS: Talk about the difference between you and TSA Pre, because I have both. I’m going to Global Entry, too, because I just have been traveling a lot abroad and I found that irritating, too. I have both and they actually put me in the front of the TSA line too now, which means no shoes and lesser scrutiny, essentially. What is the difference? Did you consider that a competing process? Because now TSA lines are long because a lot of people have them.
Actually, a significant percentage of our members are TSA Precheck eligible on any given flight. We don’t know whether they’ve enrolled or not because eligibility sometimes is there and sometimes isn’t. What we got excited about is that TSA was leaning in to risk-based screening, that TSA was thinking about the future, about it’s not just about the items but it’s about the person and creating that known traveling program. We really look at it as collaboration. We’re here to support them in their critical mission.
Again, tons of our customers are Precheck eligible, but again, we’re really about being that identity platform from curb to gate, biometric bag drop, boarding pass, identity, lounge access, boarding, payment. Precheck is a piece of that, it’s your ability to keep your coat and shoes on. It’s the ability for them to allocate their budget in a more sustainable way from a labor perspective.
KS: And what about global entry?
LG: But Precheck is at more airports though, isn’t it?
LG: I believe it is. TSA Pre costs $ 85 for 5 years and Global Entry is $ 100 for 5 years. How much is Clear?
Well, it depends. Everyone gets a free trial for a month and I think that’s really important. What we’ve focused on is bringing the price down, so through Delta it’s free for Delta Diamond, $ 79-$ 99, depending on what you are, $ 50 to add the family plan and kids under 18 are free. It depends how many people you have, etc.
KS: I signed up my kids too.
LG: But without the free month and without the airline benefits.
So flat out you do nothing, you go online it’s $ 179 a year.
LG: A $ 100 a year, okay.
I think what’s really important are two things. One is how many times you’re flying, so cost per use is incredibly important. If you fly 10 times versus you’re flying 20 times. Our average customer is traveling about 10 times a year on Clear and a decent percentage of them are traveling just about every week, so cost per use is really what we’re focused on as well as bringing it to other verticals.
KS: There are actually two subscriptions I wouldn’t give up, the New York Times and this. That sounds crazy, but when I think of subscriptions — I sound like an ad for you but I really do use it a lot. Global Entry, I was thinking of doing it because there was no … The issue I had with Clear is it’s not in every airport. Sometimes I go to odd airports, and it’s now in D.C., it’s in a lot of the airports I fly into, but it’s often hard to find. It’s in D.C.
We’re working on signage and way-finding.
KS: I get that. I can find them, I see the blue sign, I can find them.
We’re working on it.
KS: But it’s the number of airports. I don’t remember if it was Chicago.
So today … Not yet.
KS: Yeah it wasn’t in Chicago, I was irritated by that.
Look, it’s been really interesting. Again, rebuilding a company, it takes a while, and what I didn’t know when we started is it’s about a five-year sales cycle. We now cover about 80 percent of the destinations in the U.S., we’re at 24, we’ll be at 34 next year, at least. It’s been a real moment over the last year. We’ve tripled utilization in terms of verifications, doubled enrollment.
KS: What about internationally? That’s why I’m saying Global Entry.
Correct. We are having those conversations, but Global Entry is about getting back in the U.S.
KS: Back in the U.S.
In my view, you should get everything that you can get your hands on for fast, frictionless, secure travel.
KS: Yeah, because they seem to just walk right through those lines.
LG: I’m a TSA Pre person but I don’t have Clear, although I’ve been tempted to get into Clear because there was one time when I was approaching an airport line and it was really, really, really long, it was probably coming back from some tech conference. Someone nearly sold me on it and then I was like, “No, I have TSA Pre.” For someone who has TSA Pre and you’re not getting that curb … What did you call it? The curb to …?
Curb to gate.
LG: Curb-to-gate service, but you’re getting in an expedited line in some way. What’s a clear-cut example of what Clear — no pun intended — will offer me if I signed up for both?
First of all, you should try a free one-month trial, you don’t get charged until the end. Seeing is believing. It’s about consistency and predictability. So what Clear members know, I live on the Upper East Side, I’m going to La Guardia, I can leave my home with an hour to go, the traffic it takes me 20 minutes to get there, I know I’m getting through Clear in less than five minutes, I’m getting my coffee, I’m getting on the plane. It is about consistency and predictability that you are experiencing in every other aspect of your life that you absolutely should be experiencing in airports.
When you look at how much you pay for a ticket and you look at your experience from the time you walk in to the time you get on the plane, the plane experience has gotten a lot better, the restaurants have gotten significantly better. Waiting in line 20 minutes to drop your bag … Here’s the problem, even if you get there an hour in advance and there’s no line, you’re still pissed you wasted your time. This is about a consistent, predictable experience wherever you are.
KS: Yeah, I am.
When you go to AT&T Park in San Francisco, 50 percent of fans come to a baseball game within 30 minutes of game time. That’s 24,000 people converging on this one spot over 30 minutes, that’s more than an airport. At the Yankees game, Yankees fans — go, Yankees — it was 45 minutes to get into the game during the playoffs, 0 time through Clear.
KS: You have Clear spots through … I saw that it was at San Francisco. I went through.
Yeah and we have 1,000 basis points, better retention when you use it with baseball and the airport. This is all about bringing …
KS: What stadiums are you in? You’re in baseball, just baseball stadiums?
LG: Sportsball, Kara. Sportsball stadiums.
KS: I went to the one in San Francisco and I didn’t want to go and I was like, “Uh, a line.” Then I said, “Clear is here!”
Did you use it at AT&T Park?
KS: I certainly did.
KS: And then I completely didn’t watch the game.
LG: Kara went for Clear, not even baseball.
KS: I went and had a … I just went.
LG: Did they win the World Series that night? I’m just curious, did you miss that?
KS: No, I don’t know. I just … That Larry person made me go, Larry …
KS: Baer, yeah, that guy.
It changes your expectations. You … Think about some app that you’re using, Uber, Lyft, whatever, it changes your expectations, now you’re standing out with your hand flagging the taxi down, seven minutes …
KS: Yeah, it feels like using Uber/Lyft.
… And you’re like, “Why am I still doing this?” This is about a secure, frictionless experience wherever you are. Why am I showing my driver’s license downstairs? I should be in the system and my face should get me into the building. I should use it to pay. I should use it for health care. This is where the world is going. I hate the people that are wasting their time.
KS: Last question before we get to reader’s questions, are you working with government in any capacity, because extreme vetting or vetting programs or anything else? One of the things is, look, we don’t want our biometrics to be had by the government, on many levels it’s a scary idea is that everyone’s going to be chipped or they’re going to have … That’s one concept that I’ve heard recently, chipping yourself, or having something in your eye, or having some identifiers on your body. Of course, that has historical horror shows of that. Talk about that concept.
First of all, you have your identifiers on your body, your fingerprints, your iris image and your face. That is No. 1, so the … I read this article on implanting for a vending machine and I thought, “That makes absolutely no sense,” one. Two, I’m a big believer in public/private partnerships. So …
KS: But the government doesn’t have your fingerprints, not every …
KS: Not everyone, you have to be arrested or work for …
Correct. My point is we don’t share our data with the government. We are very clear on our privacy policies, but we do work with them from a collaboration perspective and an innovation perspective. I happen to think that TSA has helped with our public/private partnership and helped partner with leading-edge technology companies to bring a better experience to travelers. We don’t sell or share your data, we don’t sell it, we don’t share it with the government.
I take a lot of pride as a private company in securing our member’s data. We are obsessed with our customer’s experience. You email me on a Saturday, you have a bad experience, we’re on it. We’re accountable to our partners.
LG: When you say you’re working with them on an innovation perspective, what does it mean that you’re working collaborating with the government.
There’s a governmental document called a CRADA, it’s a cooperative research agreement. We work with them on research ideas and things of that nature, on testing data, things of that nature.
LG: Does Clear use any type of social media for vetting or anything like that?
We do not.
LG: Okay, interesting. So you’re gathering all this biometric data. You say you don’t sell or share any of that biometric data. Any other personally identifiable information, any other … No. So when you’re working with the government it’s only on …
It’s secured with Clear. Again, we don’t share your biometrics with Delta, again, through the API. What we’re doing is sending over the frequent flier number. When you put your fingerprints down what we’re saying is, “Okay, we have frequent flier number 12345, do they have a ticket?” Then your biometric boarding pass pops up on the screen, not because we sent them your data but because your fingerprints in this case are your frequent flier number. It’s the same thing when we think about health care as an opportunity, if you came to an emergency room and put your fingerprints down, this is the insurance information …
KS: Which you probably should be able to do there.
… Do you have access to certain insurance. What we say, again, access and entitlements are rooted in identity. We’re not saying, “Hey, we have Lauren.” In this case we have frequent flier number 12345. We just got permission in the state of Washington to use your biometrics in place of your driver’s license to purchase alcohol. Think about it, why are you showing the concessionaire your driver’s license and your credit card? All we’re telling them, we’re not telling them it’s you, we’re saying, “Over 21,” because we’ve digitally authenticated your driver’s license, your birthday’s on your driver’s license, now your age is associated with your fingerprints. For this purpose, for the fast beer lane that we’ll be bringing forward.
LG: Fast beer lane.
LG: Fast beer lane.
Put your fingerprints down, it’s integrated with …
LG: Upcoming podcast.
KS: It makes sense.
It makes tremendous sense.
KS: Yeah it does.
You know, there’s a …
LG: Does that mean that data is being sold to advertisers in any way?
No. All it’s saying is that they’re not going to have to pay a quarter million dollar fine for selling alcohol to underage people. They’re going to be able to sell more beer because you’re going to move faster. Why are you waiting in line to buy a beer? And it’s a better customer experience than whipping out all this stuff.
KS: Authentications are kind of crazy.
So that’s the point.
KS: The last question before we get to some questions from our readers is the concept of safety, because there was just yet another story about TSA letting through whatever the heck they let through. It’s always disturbing what gets through. Is there a way by saying who a known traveler is to be able to do that? I don’t think I underwent a whole lot of TSA looking at me. That’s the question, is how do you make it safer for travelers?
What we’re doing today is automating the identity process for TSA. We have the capability, we have built predictive analytics models. Most terrorists, not to get heavy and dark, are actually not known criminals before they turn bad. It’s about predictive risk analytics. This is a great example. We worked with the Department of Homeland Security to create a predictive analytics model to create known travelers or known fans for sports stadiums.
Again, in the world of entitlements, I know that you’re you and I can confirm that you’re low risk. I’m not saying you’re high risk I’m just saying I can confirm that you’re low risk. When you think about risk-based screening and differentiated screening, if I know that you’re Caryn I can confirm that you’re low risk. How does somebody want to treat you? A sports stadium might want to treat you different than an office building or Amtrak, so differentiated screening, taking your finite resources on people you know less about. We are not doing that today in airports but we think it’s a big opportunity in the future.
KS: I just was talking to someone who was working on AI, it’s crap in, crap out. What if you have bad … Right now it’s by sight, of course. People stop people and people are worried about screening and selecting people that shouldn’t be selected and discrimination. Where is the data where you’re a low risk?
It’s using commercially available data to study past known people before they turn bad and building all sorts of algorithms around it, and then doing a lot of backward testing, and then continuing to feed in new people. So looking at the lone shooters … unfortunately it used to be really hard to find people for test data, there are over 19 lone shooters this year.
KS: So there’s a lot of data on what they’re like.
Machine learning can keep feeding it in. It’s actually quite depressing.
KS: Too bad, yeah, that we can feed this data in. But it is true data, the data that you feed in is it could be problematic data, the data sets are so important. That’s where I think a lot of people are worried is that it starts to pick certain people out, it starts to discriminate, it’s just as discriminatory.
LG: Like Kara is not a terrorist by traditional standards.
LG: But she’s a journalist, she’s a journalist and journalists have had some problems at airports.
KS: Not every airport, but some. China.
LG: If someone had let’s say if it was on a profile somewhere that Kara was a journalist and she was passing through …
KS: Oh yeah, I had problems when I was going to China, it was crazy.
LG: Or myself, but I’m really thinking Kara’s more of a target.
KS: Going to China it was slower. It was much slower for me than others. It was really interesting.
That’s extremely interesting.
KS: Well, they knew who I was.
That’s not the kind of data that we’re looking at.
KS: Yes, right, but that’s what I’m saying. It gets interesting.
Look, I think that this is the world that we live in from a technology perspective and integrity. Our brand is built on trust. Again, we’re owners, you put your name and your reputation out there. We represent 1.5 million members and growing and 1,000 employees and our job every day is to do the right thing to strengthen security and delight customers.
KS: I’m sorry, very last thing, how’s business?
It’s been a really amazing year. I call it 6.5 years and one year. So we’ve been at this 90 months, which feels like dog years. It’s been transformative. The network effect is powerful, and what we’re seeing is utilization up, retention up if you use it nine or more times. We have over 90 percent retention, NPS is increasing.
KS: How many users?
Over 1.5 million today.
KS: Customer subscribed?
KS: And you could sell them other things?
What we want to do is not sell them but we want to add it, like going to the baseball stadium is free. I am a huge Amazon fan, Amazon Prime. We keep adding nodes and adding value and it becomes that virtuous cycle.
KS: How about traffic, why don’t you fix that? Traffic lanes.
Yeah, so I don’t have a way to do that, but I do have some ideas of amalgamating traffic data with Clear plus where your gate is to know how long it should take you to get from your house to your exact gate. Depending on where your gate is you could be there in 20 minutes or 25 minutes. Again, going back to that first line of that article, working mother of three, all I want is my life to work perfectly every minute of the day.
KS: What is the age that kids can go in that’s free?
Kids under 18 are free because they wouldn’t have identity so they don’t even need to enroll, you just bring them with.
KS: My kid is really tall so they keep not believing him recently because he looks like an adult. Anyway, in a minute we’re going to take some questions about traveling from our readers and listeners. Caryn is going to answer them. But first we’re going to take a quick break for a word from our sponsors. Ka-ching.
We’re back with Caryn Seidman Becker, the CEO of Clear. I actually have been using Clear since 2005, I think I was one of its first customers, and I still have it and I really like it a lot. We’re talking about travel trips for the holidays since you’re about to embark on them now. We’re going to answer some questions from our readers and listeners. Lauren, would you read the first question?
LG: I would just like to say that I learned so much about your early adopter habits through this podcast.
KS: Oh yeah, that one I did. That one I liked.
LG: Couple of weeks ago you were like, “I was using AOL before everyone else was.”
KS: And I was. I was. That one I was.
LG: Now we’re talking about Clear.
KS: Clear, yes, yes.
LG: The first question is from a woman I work with, Liz Lopatto, she’s @mslopatto on Twitter, she’s The Verge’s health and science editor. “Does Clear share its biometric data with law enforcement?”
KS: Yeah, if there’s trouble.
We will not share your information unless subpoenaed to do so.
KS: Subpoenaed to do so. Then how do you assess that?
That would be a question for the lawyers on the assessment of a subpoena.
KS: Some companies resist. Twitter is more resistant than other companies, for example.
Has not happened yet.
KS: Has not happened yet?
Has not happened to us yet.
KS: You haven’t gotten one yet.
We have not gotten one.
KS: But you would share if you had a subpoena if there was a problem. All right, okay, well that makes sense. Anything else you’d like to add? No, you probably don’t.
Next question, Louisa, @wuluu, okay. “Maybe only partly related but is there a way authorities can look up someone’s travel history to verify if the information data cleared is correct, i.e. when someone uses a different passport to go in the Middle East than to immigrate to the United States.” People use different passports, they now have several.
So since we’re domestic-only I’m not sure that we would be involved or engaged to that.
KS: Let me add to that then, would you have someone’s travel history on Clear? Do you save that, like when I got to D.C. a lot?
We do have …
KS: You know I go to D.C. a lot.
We do have travel history.
KS: What do you do with that?
Right now, absolutely nothing.
KS: But you know where people go?
We do know where people go. We do read the boarding pass and we do save all that. Again, completely encrypted in our systems.
KS: What’s the reason for that? Why save it?
I think we always want to help optimize our customer’s experience over the long-term and if there’s a way that we can do that by understanding travel history then that’s …
KS: And where most of your customers are going to and from.
I think what we’re really looking for is … Upon launch, for instance, I’ll give you an example. When we launched LA, understanding early volumes would be important in knowing how many people every day were going from San Francisco to LA, and order how many pods, what should be the staffing, how are the hours, what’s the cut … Then we can better serve our customers. That’s a reason that we would be saving travel data and analyzing it to optimize the experience.
KS: And know when the flights are, presumably.
Well, we know. That’s all public information.
KS: No, but when people who are your customers are using Clear to get to their flights.
Correct, correct. We’re all data all the time. How many verifications per minute … Because then you know when you need to add pods or staffing: When you go over four a minute then we have capacity issues. We’re always about the customer experience.
KS: Explain a pod to people, by the way.
Oh okay. They used to be called kiosks, but as a girl who grew up in the ’80s I love myself a retro phone booth, so we built these pods which really hold all of our equipment and they look like retro phone booths.
KS: And you look into them and you put your boarding pass in there.
Essentially it’s commodity-based equipment, if you will, so a Windows Surface tablet, a fingerprint reader, iris reader, camera, the whole thing, but you need some place to hold it all together.
KS: Right, which you have. Then you have your little stamp, you still have a stamp.
We require a stamp, those are TSA requirements.
KS: Yeah I was noticing. I was like, “What’s with the stamp?” I kept asking and your staff was like, “We have to stamp it,” and I’m like, “Why do you have to stamp it?” I’m an irritating traveler.
I think it’s a really interesting point, though, which is technology, not only in travel, is leading regulation. The question is what do you do? From a mobile boarding pass, well, you can’t stamp that. When you think about a biometric boarding pass, well, you can stamp … Well, you can stamp your forward. I think that technology is creating more and more operational opportunities to figure out how to make it more seamless.
KS: I still don’t understand why they put the little pencil on it when they do your pen thing.
Because they want to know who to hold accountable.
KS: Yeah I know, but they’re sitting there, they should know they were there.
LG: Are you using a Windows Surface tablet because you’re using Windows Hello for facial recognition?
We are not using Windows Hello but we do use Surface tablets.
KS: What’s your facial recognition?
LG: Why Surface tablets?
I’d rather not say. That would be a question for our tech team, they love them, yeah.
LG: They love Windows Surface tablets, wow.
KS: And they like to dance, they like to do the Surface dance.
LG: Them and the NFL.
KS: A lot of people like that Surface.
LG: I’m making a face.
KS: A lot of people like that Surface, I’m telling you.
LG: Oh no, I’m not saying … it’s not that …
KS: My brother loves his Surface.
LG: I have a Surface laptop on my desk right now that I like, it’s a beautiful build. In fact, I think The Verge voted it one of the best laptops of this year. However, the early Surface tablets, eh.
KS: I know, my brother loves his, he keeps writing me, “Are you still using that communist Apple?” and stuff like that. My brother’s a Trump kid, let’s not go into it.
LG: I’m asking also because Apple often beats the privacy drum and says that their software is more secure and all that.
KS: In any case …
LG: Thank you. Next question is from. ..
KS: You’re not going to tell us the facial recognition technology you’re using?
KS: Okay. God, then.
LG: And emoji. Next question is from Chase Gallagher: “Why do I need Clear when I have Precheck?” Oh Chase, we got this question for you, buddy. I asked it. “Is it just to get through the queue to the metal detector more quickly?”
KS: We’ll let you repeat why, there’s more.
There’s more. Precheck’s the ability to keep your coat and shoes on, and about 70-plus percent of our members are Precheck eligible on any given flight. Clear is really about the platform of going frictionless curb to gate and also a consistent predictable experience in automating the identity process. We think the two work beautifully together.
KS: Also, you go to the front of the TSA line. That’s true. That’s my big … Because the TSA line is long now.
LG: And it’s getting longer. I had this incident when I was traveling for Thanksgiving. I was traveling from SFO to somewhere on the East Coast and I arrived what I thought was early and then I got there and of course it was a mess because you can never leave early enough on the holidays. They were just shepherding everybody through what was apparently the TSA Pre line and I was like, “What is going on here?”
KS: “Because I got TSA Pre.”
LG: Everyone was TSA Pre.
KS: Yeah, no, I know.
I just think there’s a … My husband tells me not to use this analogy because he says it makes me sound old. ATM machines and bank tellers, ATM machines scale, it’s objective, it’s consistent, you know what to expect when you got to an ATM machine. Bank tellers, it’s labor, it’s subjective. You need technology to automate these processes. Identity is one of the great things to automate.
LG: I will reiterate, you go to the front of the line, of the TSA line, people.
KS: It’s not fun, the front of the line.
LG: So Chase, the short answer is you can sleep in longer because you can actually predict what time you would be getting through, according to Caryn.
Mark Little: “Seems like this pre-screening would dramatically speed up the lines at airports,” why yes, “Why is enrollment in the government’s precheck program so incredibly clunky and confusing? Why wouldn’t they want to make it as simple as possible?”
KS: It is clunky.
LG: Some of it is. I had to go to Logan …
KS: I had to go to the weirdest office in San Francisco.
LG: And I had to go down to some lower level and find a guy sitting in a back office.
KS: I had to go near the Whole Foods, I don’t know why.
LG: This weird office, I was like, “Who are these people?” Were there juices?
KS: No, can I just … It wasn’t in the Whole Foods, I would have enjoyed that. No, it was in this weird building and I didn’t know who these people were and I didn’t think they were from the government because it seemed kind of sketchy. But it was weird. The process for TSA was the weirdest process.
LG: Was it Jeff Bezos holding up an organic kohlrabi?
KS: No. Explain that … Sorry, we’re going on. Why is it so incredibly clunky and confusing? Because it is. Yours is not, theirs is.
I can’t comment on that. What I can say is our obsession with the customer experience dictates everything that we do. I think, again, I keep beating a drum of: Innovation is the bridge. And biometric innovation is the bridge between security and the customer experience. We focus on continuing to improve that experience, drive down the time it takes to enroll, drive up the speed of verification. I hope what you’ve recognized in the past few years is that it is faster than ever to verify. Iris takes a little longer than fingerprints — I’m sorry that you have bad fingerprints — so we’re going to work on that.
KS: It’s just as fast.
But it is about speed of verification, speed of enrollment, ease of use. Now we’re focused on how do we take this securely to the mobile environment, that’s what we do every day, that’s our driving force. We don’t want to piss you off, we want you to be happy.
KS: Iris is not slow. I try not to get in arguments in airport lines but I end up doing it and then I worry about getting arrested.
Anyway, next question, go ahead Lauren.
LG: This is from Dion F. Lisle, he sent in two questions but I thought the second one was better: “I had the original Clear ID and recently went to put in my fingerprints. They already had them. Why?”
LG: Why? Dun, dun, dun.
That is correct. When we bought the company, we securely transferred from Lockheed Martin the 190,000 members from Lockheed to Clear. About 75 percent of the former members came back and they were really excited that they didn’t have to re-enroll and it was an opt-in process and that was really important in the whole acquisition process. People had to affirmatively opt-in.
KS: I did that.
LG: This is one of those things that you do have to keep in mind if you’re giving up any type of personal data, health and fitness data, if you’re giving up biometric data. If a company does go under or it gets acquired or it gets merged or something else, you are in effect under new owners at that point.
KS: I wrote a mean letter to Steve Brill. But it’s like a lot of things like that. There’s a lot of stuff that has your personal data when companies go out of business. It’s a problem. It’s a problem. It’s washing all around out there and the Russians have all of it, by the way.
LG: Russell Brandom, who’s been following these topics for The Verge, too, asks, “My sense is that DHS is moving towards Clear-esque system, preclearance plus biometric verification in a bunch of different places at the airport. Clear focuses on the TSA line but I’m sure they see it expanding to airport retail — whether it’s lounges or duty-free stores, it seems like implementation would be easier if people want it,” which you were starting to do.
Yes. I think seven-and-a-half years ago when we restarted Clear, people would crinkle their nose and say, “Why are you doing biometrics?” I was like, “Because it’s the future.” I think that biometrics have gone mainstream.
KS: All right, okay then.
LG: Let me just add to that. Russell wrote a really good article on The Verge about the future of airports and how as there are more vetting processes could things potentially get a little more confusing. So you should go check that out if you’re interested in that.
Next question is from Eddie Ayala: “What does the future” — speaking of the future — “of biometrics look like? I imagine there are other industries besides travel that could employ this kind of ID verification.”
That is right, and we’re talking to them. When you think about health care, when you think about…
KS: Health care.
… Vehicles, when you think about you are your driver’s license, you are your registration, you are your insurance, you are your payment. The connection, shared, or autonomous vehicle identity is the key …
KS: Health care.
… No pun intended. Health care, huge. Customer experience, high regulatory environment, looks a lot like aviation, privacy, security, they care more and more about customer experience. Retail, everyone’s talking about the frictionless retail experience. That’s going to be based on facial. I think that there should be some multi-factor authentication on the payment side. Again, going back to what we got permission for in the state of Washington, how do you buy alcohol, or cigarettes, or whatever people are purchasing where there’s age, how do you gamble online. You’ve got to know definitely …
KS: How old someone is.
KS: Or whatever. Also, you remember the “Minority Report” where they had the eyes …
I do. What were those people called, prequels?
KS: Pre, oh whatever, prequel, something like that. Precogs.
Prequel’s something different.
KS: That was when he went into the store with the eyes that he had replaced and he says, “Hello Mr. Hashimoto. Would you like another fleece from the Gap?” because it was constantly taking pictures of eyes, that’s what they were doing to locate people.
I haven’t seen the movie in ages. I should watch it.
KS: You should because they do, they go chk-chk like they’re shooting the picture.
Retail, look, casinos … Again, when you think about where strengthening security and customer experience are converging: Hospitality, hotels and casinos…
KS: Checking into hotels, yeah.
These things were built to be open but you live in a world where you’ve got to be really thoughtful about that.
KS: Getting into elevators and stuff like that.
You can’t put metal detectors everywhere, that is not the solution. Risk-based security is built on a multi-layered approach and identity and entitlements around that identity are a new and important layer to that approach. I think it’s really, it’s where the future is.
KS: You need to watch “Minority Report” again because there’s a lot of …
It’s been a few years.
KS: Just try to avoid the Tom Cruise bad acting, which is real hard, but there’s a ton of little stuff if you look throughout, done by the imagineers at Disney, I think, who were thinking up these things which are now …
That was probably 15 years ago plus.
KS: Yes, I know. It’s amazing when you look at it, especially the iris … I remember at the end that thing was looking at him.
Biometrics have been used in the defense industry domestically for decades.
KS: And we see the movies where they’re always trying to trick it.
You know, Estonia, the entire country, biometrics is the national ID, 1.2 billion people in India and Aadhaar, entitlement programs in South Africa …
KS: Oh, entitlement programs.
… A company, UEPS Biometrics, Brazil, it’s voting. I believe that it’s coming to so many different industries and I believe that people are focused on doing it securely.
KS: If we trust our government.
LG: But do you envision …
KS: I don’t trust our government at all.
LG: I was just going to say, you are a private company that is owning all of this data right now, but what you’re describing sounds to me a lot like this idea of the future of a federated identity where you’re no longer carrying your wallet and your license and your social security card, passport and everything else. It’s all just this one aggregated identifier. The social security card, if we’re going to use that, or the passport as it exists now, they’re government issued and you’re private. Who actually will own this idea of the federated identity in the future?
I think that there’s going to be converging data streams. I think different people and different things, but you could feed in. A social security card is a piece of paper with, I think it’s red ink with your number on it. How is that secure?
KS: So not.
And now it’s all been hacked 100 times over and it’s all out there. I think, again, in the world of public/private partnership, I think different people will own different things and you could feed your data stream into this and somebody else could feed their … I don’t think it’s going to be one person who owns the whole thing. You’re right, in India it’s government owned. I’m a believer …
KS: I think I trust Apple more than the federal government, honestly.
Right, so I think Apple has stuff. Different people will have different things for different use cases.
KS: It’s interesting. Less in the biometrics — then we’ll ask our last question — what about voice? Because voice is getting such a big play everywhere.
So it’s something that …
Again, in the world of multi-factor authentication, it could be good enough to use your Echo to call something.
KS: Now with Apple they’re using face, then they gave a finger, but they’re giving …
Super frustrated with that face thing.
KS: Really? It works great. I love it.
I like putting my thumb down.
KS: Do you?
LG: I do too.
KS: I’m over it. I’ve only had it for a few days.
LG: I’ve had mine since around Thanksgiving and I’m …
KS: You probably still want to do …
The 11.7 seconds that you spent on the rotary phone, that feels like a lifetime now.
KS: Yes, I want the rotary phone. I have one at home, I like it. It’s very enjoyable. Anyway, but it takes a long time, you’re like, “What the hell did I do this for?”
But look, we’re living in the world, we’re talking about it, face, fingerprint, iris, voice, you’re using all of them. Biometrics have gone mainstream.
LG: Oh yeah, those moments now when I use Apple Pay to pay for something on the web and I do the thing where a website will just say to me, “Use Apple Pay,” and I go, “Yes.” Then it says, “Authenticate on your phone.” I pick up the phone and I go like this, and then I’ve made another holiday purchase that I needed to order.
It’s so easy.
KS: I do it within stores, although I don’t understand why you need to put a phone there. I’m like, “Why doesn’t it just know me?”
My view is that, again, when you walk into a store, they should have a camera and it’s facial recognition. Why do you need an intermediary?
KS: I had a discussion with a person at the Walgreens and he was ignoring me completely. I was like, “You know, you won’t need your phone someday. Someday it’s just going to be me and you’re just going to give me the things.” He was like, “Mm-hmm.” He was not … And the drag queen behind me was pissed. He said, “Shut up, move along.”
Maybe now that CVS …
KS: She was pissed, she was pissed. This is the Castro.
I just think there’s different use cases. It goes back to the modularity of the platform. Sometimes you just got to be 21, sometimes you get to be your frequent flier number, sometimes it’s voice, sometimes it’s face, sometimes fingerprint. It’s always about security, it’s always about protecting the privacy.
KS: It should be your DNA. It’s going to be your DNA, isn’t it?
By the way, I was just learning about that. DNA biometrics is a really big deal.
KS: It is, it’s going to be.
KS: Sorry people, there is no privacy. Last question.
But I think it still can be private and protected because it’s about entitlements, what do you need to know? You don’t need to know anything except 21, green, 21. That’s all you need to know in this use case. You need something else at Walgreens so I just …
LG: I was just going to say, that’s the ideal until something’s hacked.
KS: Yeah, exactly. All right, last question.
LG: It wasn’t exactly a question.
KS: What’s the question, go ahead.
LG: Jason Gay, who’s a columnist for the WSJ, wrote to me via Twitter and he said — I can give him a shout-out here. He said he’s a big fan of Clear. “Don’t tell anyone about it. I want it to be just me in line.” Well, Jason …
LG: Story’s blown. He said, “I did it one day because I was at the airport and they had a discount for Amex and thought, ‘Well maybe this will be good one time.’ Now I’m bummed when airlines don’t have it.”
LG: Then he said, this is the most profound statement of the podcast, “I will let a security company remove my eyeball and cut it in half if I don’t have to wait in line.” Jason, I feel like there’s a column brewing here for you for WSJ.
KS: Any comment? Will you cut people’s eyeballs in half?
That seems not customer-centric, but we love his passion. His passion fuels us.
LG: So can you do it with just half an iris?
No, you can’t do it with half, but you can wear contacts, you can have cataract surgery. You can do a lot of things.
KS: What would be the craziest way to authenticate someone biometrically. It’s probably blood.
Two pieces. One, I’m not there yet, behavioral biometrics. People are talking a lot about again. I think that’s another modality for the multi-factor authentication.
LG: They’re doing them around loans.
Right. I don’t think that’s it, but again, that added to face could get you to the nine nines.
KS: Using your social tweets and stuff like that.
What do I think is the craziest? Gait.
KS: What’s that?
KS: Oh the way you walk.
The way you walk.
LG: Like if you pronate, they’re like, “I know it’s you, Lauren.”
The way you walk, I think, is something people are talking a lot about.
KS: Wow. We’re watching.
LG: “You had two knee surgeries, Lauren, I can tell from your gait.” Oh God.
KS: Your gait.
It doesn’t seem as unique as fingerprints.
KS: But it is. A lot of things are.
But by the billions, a billion people all walk differently.
LG: That’s so interesting. They’ll be able to tell that Kara walks heads down on her phone all the time?
KS: Every self …
By the way, I sprained my ankle. I am a cautionary tale, do not do that.
KS: No, don’t do that.
LG: Oh, while you were on your phone?
On my phone down the stairs.
KS: I actually don’t walk and look at my phone. I am one of those people who do not. In fact, I don’t know if you know this, I go up behind people in San Francisco when they’re doing it and I go, “Hey,” and they go like this and drop their phone.
It’s terrible, people need to look around more.
KS: I yell at them like, “Stop it.”
A friend of mine just said, “Banish the pixels,” and I was like, “Yeah.”
KS: So far nobody’s attacked me for doing … Because it’s super rude. They’re embarrassed, they’re like, “Oh I’m so sorry.” I’m like, “You should be.” So I’ll do it to you next time and then you’ll …
Well, I’m not doing it anymore.
KS: All right, good, good. Caryn, this has been a delight.
LG: You need to go down to Silicon Valley where you’re going to see a 16-year-old driving their parents’ Maserati up Sand Hill Road while they’re Snapchatting at the same time.
LG: And I need you to scare them.
KS: No, that’s not happening. I really hate that.
That would be really bad for society.
KS: I think cars should not start if you’re doing that, the car should.
Biometrics, a lot of cars are being fitted with facial recognition and iris cameras in their rearview mirror.
KS: Oh so you’re watching, so you have to be looking. Oh, that’s a smart idea.
LG: But if you’re looking in the rearview mirror then you’re not looking at the road.
Well, you’ve got to register yourself in there and then all sorts of interesting things can happen.
KS: My son can drive, you have a year to do it.
LG: The self-driving cars.
KS: Actually, he’s really good about that. We yell at people who do that, which is good.
Anyway, this has been a delightful episode and a fascinating episode of Too Embarrassed to Ask. Caryn, thank you for joining us.
KS: I am a very satisfied customer. You don’t even have to buy ads on this, I’m telling you. Get Clear, it’s worth every penny.
LG: Thank you, Caryn, very much for taking the time to answer our many, many questions. One of these days I am going to try Clear.
Sooner than you think.
KS: Do it.
LG: I’ll let you know. I’m going to do a review of Clear, TSA Pre and Global Entry.
We love them all.
Recode – All