Back when Charles Green, CEO of AIS, worked in the Adversarial Sciences Lab (ASL) at AFRL in Rome, NY, the pirate flag was an important symbol. So much so that when the decision was made to start AIS, the flag became a part of the company’s identity right away.
“The flag was pre-AIS, but we were formed in the ASL, so we inherited it from them,” said Green. “Back then, we had adopted the flag because we were being challenged to do things differently, which is what the flag represents.”
Eric Thayer, who is now AIS’s Principal Investigator for the Systems Analysis and Exploitation Group was also working in the ASL with Green before AIS became a company. The lab was doing a significant amount of cyber research, which at that time was not the norm.
“At that point, the flag signified ‘the hacker’,” said Thayer. “We had a hacker mentality and approach from the beginning; we had an unconventional way of looking at things and doing things.”
To AIS, being different means more than just standing out from the competition. Having a fun and easy-going company culture was, and continues to be, one of the most important ways the ASL, and later AIS, stood out from the rest.
“In the lab, we were dressing differently, behaving differently and just trying to buck the system, but with our government leadership’s encouragement to do so,” said Green. “It wasn’t always met with the best receptions; some other people in the lab didn’t like how we were doing things and different leadership came in and out having different opinions about it, but we still did our own thing.”
Dan Kalil, Vice President of Commercial Operations, was working close by in the Forensics Lab at the time. Since the labs were so connected, they both adopted the idea of breaking the mold of a traditional work environment.