The Legacy of the AIS Pirate Flag

In the early days at the Adversarial Sciences Lab (ASL), the pirate flag was more than a symbol for Charles Green who worked there at the time—it was a bold declaration of an unconventional approach to solving challenges. When Green reflects on the decision to establish AIS in 2001, incorporating the pirate flag into the AIS culture was a top priority.

“When we made the decision to start AIS, we adopted the pirate flag symbol because it represents the idea of always aiming to do things differently,” said Green, CEO of AIS. “This was and continues to be a huge aspect of our culture.”

Eric Thayer, Chief Engineer, who worked alongside Green in the ASL, recalls the significance of the flag as they worked on groundbreaking cyber research, which defied the norms at that time.

“The flag signifies ‘the hacker,’ and we had that mentality from the beginning,” said Thayer. To AIS, being ‘different’ means more than just standing out from the competition. Having a fun and collaborative company culture was one of ways the ASL, and later AIS, stood out from the rest.”

Dan Kalil, Chief Commercial Officer, was working close by in the Forensics Lab at the time. Since the labs were right next door to each other at the Air Force Research Laboratory, they both adopted the idea of breaking the mold of a traditional work environment.

“From having meetings around a pool table to cooking breakfast that blew out the circuits, AIS’s journey has been characterized by a dedication to quality work without taking life too seriously,” said Kalil. “We always did our own thing which empowered us to be creative, innovative and just be ourselves.”

When the AIS headquarters building was built in 2005, ensuring the pirate flag had a presence was pivotal.

“We had a nice new fancy building that looked like a corporate environment, but it didn’t quite have our own flavor,” said Thayer. “A couple of us went on a mission to the hardware store and got some supplies. We gathered outside of the new building after hours one night, lowered the flag, put the pirate flag up and raised it. It’s been that way ever since.”

A New Chapter

However, the story does not end there. Fast forward to 2023, AIS proudly unveiled a new iteration of the Jolly Roger. Chris Penree, Creative Lead, seamlessly blended the heritage of the original flag with a modern hacker-feel, reflecting the company’s commitment to innovation.

“The pirate flag represents every part of our story; every triumph and every obstacle,” said Green. “I felt it was time, after more than 20 years, to create our own flag to truly represent who we are and where we are going. Though we will never lose sight of our roots, 2023 felt like the right time to have a little fun and create something that we could call our own.”

Penree fused the essence of heritage with modern hacker-feel, bringing our CEO’s vision to life.

“Our new pirate flag design is a celebration of our rich history and an exciting marker for the next chapter,” said Penree. “I incorporated our brand colors, a cyber eye and a hacker hood to convey our dedication to staying at the forefront of technological advancements, while remaining rooted in the values that have defined us since day one.”

Our new Jolly Roger, a blend of tradition and cutting-edge design, serves as a declaration of AIS’s uniqueness and readiness to embrace the challenges of tomorrow.

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