Home M3AAWG Blog Pioneers of M3AAWG: Jerry Upton, Founding Executive Director
Posted by the M3AAWG Content Manager


The 20th Anniversary Interview Series

M3AAWG is exploring the historical journey that has shaped our organization for two decades. Most fitting to begin this series is our interview with Jerry Upton, M3AAWG’s founding Executive Director.

How long have you been with M3AAWG?

I was the founding Executive Director starting in 2004 and retired in March 2020.

What inspired you to engage and contribute to M3AAWG?

I was a consultant hired to form an industry group. After working with some individuals who championed the new organization, I realized how much cooperative work was needed to fight spam, our original focus. Given the need for a sustained effort, an industry organization with focus was an opportunity I could not pass up, so I became the executive director.

What would you say M3AAWG’s most important contribution to the industry has been over the past 20 years?

Being a trusted community for sharing knowledge in fighting abuse. Trust is built by individuals and not by entities, so the networking at our meeting was key to creating the right community.

What would you consider the biggest change in M3AAWG from its early days to now?

Diversity in the leadership and contributors plus a much wider scope of work.

What would you consider the most significant challenge M3AAWG has faced in its 20-year history?

Becoming and remaining a real working group with shared knowledge to all trusted entities and public sharing of best practices.

What is one of your best memories or proudest moments with M3AAWG?

There are many proud moments. One was Dave Crocker telling me that he was amazed and grateful that the organization was really a valuable community and not just a vehicle for vendors to sell to customers. Then there was the realization after ten years that there was a valuable, sustaining culture.

What role has M3AAWG played in your career?

Being the Executive Director from the start was my most rewarding job - not in compensation but in a sense of community building and real friendship.

What advice do you have for someone getting started in M3AAWG?

Talk to people and get advice and provide your own valuable contributions.

What is your greatest fear/hope for the online security/anti-abuse industry?

My greatest fear is that entities will rely too much on AI for fighting abuse without real human knowledge. Plus, bad players will use AI to break down all trust barriers such that no one will trust anything or anyone on the internet.

Each month in 2024, the pioneers of M3AAWG will appear in this blog to share our collective story. These are the trailblazers, the upstarts, and the catalysts for change! People like Jerry Upton set in motion the pillars of effort that built 20 years of exceptional achievement at M3AAWG. We extend our sincere thanks to Jerry and recognize his contributions have helped us to see our future: a world free of online abuse.  


The views expressed in DM3Z are those of the individual authors and do not necessarily reflect M3AAWG policy.