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Security (literally) at your fingertips with Token multifactor ID ring

A locally based tech firm is offering businesses a secure way to arm themselves against ever growing cybersecurity threats, putting the power of such protection in — and on — employees’ hands.

Token is gearing up for its first full-scale production run in the next couple of weeks.

The West Henrietta-based identity technology company manufactures a biometric, encrypted ring with a fingerprint sensor with multi-factor authentication. 

CEO John Gunn spoke of the growing number of cyberbreaches globally, which are becoming more sophisticated.

As many as 60 percent of small- to mid-sized businesses have failed because of such a breach, he noted.

“It’s often a death sentence for these businesses,” Gunn said.

He is betting that Token can help with the problem, adding that authentication doesn’t have to be the top vulnerability in cybersecurity.

John Gunn, CEO of Token, models the beta version of their biometric, encrypted ring with a fingerprint sensor with multi-factor authentication.
John Gunn, CEO of Token, models the beta version of their biometric, encrypted ring with a fingerprint sensor with multi-factor authentication. (Photo by Andrea Deckert)

Token has a beta version of the product in the field now. The firm has taken the feedback it has received from users of that version, made changes based on that feedback, and is readying for its initial full-scale production run, Gunn said.

Once that is running, he expects orders for the product to follow.

“I’m confident we’ll be able to ramp up revenue quickly,” Gunn said. 

The firm is on a growth path.

Token employs roughly 20 people now, including some based in Rochester and others who work remotely from outside the region.

The business is also hiring, looking for employees across the board, including research and development, engineering and sales and marketing.

Gunn — who was hired to lead Token earlier this year — is no stranger to startups. He has led and grown five such companies in his 30-plus years in the field.

He is bullish on Token’s technology, noting some of the cybersecurity measures available now are outdated and others are cumbersome and have multiple places where compromises can occur.

The rings protect against ransomware and data breaches, locking down the most common place of entry for hackers, he explained.

“When we’re feeling really bold, we say our product is un-hackable,” Gunn said.

What allows Gunn and his team to have such confidence is that fact that the ring must be on the user’s finger for the authentication to work.

It is also easy to use and can be set up in three steps.

“It’s the ultimate in user convenience,” he said, adding the rings are one piece of a company’s cybersecurity strategy.

Such technology may have a higher price tag than other options, he noted. The rings are subscription based and cost $15 per user per month. 

However, it is less than a business would likely pay in ransom from a hacker, Gunn noted. 

The company plans to sell to other businesses directly or through resellers. He expects initial interest to come from firms who would be main targets of a cyberattack, such as those in banking and finance, retail, energy, health care, construction and government.

Sourcing components – there are nearly 90 used in each ring and many come from Asia – has been among the company’s biggest challenges of late, due to global supply chain issues.

But staying on top of the supply chain problem and looking at all possible solutions has helped, Gunn noted.

Funding, on the other hand, has been less challenging.

The business got an infusion of capital last year — $13 million — from Grand Oaks Capital, the local investment firm backed by billionaire businessman Tom Golisano. 

Members of the investment firm were impressed with Token’s potential.

“We have great faith in the Token team and are confident in their ability to be a leading provider of authentication and cybersecurity solutions that have incredibly great return on investment,” said David Bovenzi, Grand Oaks’ chief investment officer. “Token has a short path to revenue and then rapidly scaling the business, and cybersecurity has always been a recession-proof business.” 

Token’s initial production run will be at another Grand Oaks-backed business – Viridi Parente, which makes lithium-ion battery systems in Buffalo. Full-scale production will ultimately be done at a facility in California, Gunn said. 

Token’s headquarters, however, will remain in the Rochester area, he said, noting the firm has deep connections here, especially to Rochester Institute of Technology.

The firm’s technology was developed by RIT graduates Steve and Melanie Shapiro.

In addition, Gunn added that the business also looks to RIT for recruiting – for both hires and co-op opportunities – and plans to explore opportunities with , RIT’s ESL Global Cybersecurity Institute.

“We’re very lucky to have – and be able to draw from – such a distinguished major university here,” he said.

[email protected] / (585) 653-4021    

Golisano firm invests $100 million in Kodak

Grand Oaks Capital, an investment firm founded by Paychex founder Tom Golisano, has committed to invest a total of $100 million in Eastman Kodak Co.

The firm purchased $75 million of Kodak’s 5 percent Series C Convertible Preferred Stock and has agreed to purchase an additional $25 million of this series of preferred stock subject to HSR Act clearance. As part of the agreement, Grand Oaks Capital will have the right — for three years or until they hold less than 50% of the initial amount of the preferred shares or common stock into which it is converted — to nominate one person to be elected to Kodak’s board of directors.

Tom Golisano
Tom Golisano

“Grand Oaks Capital is excited about the long-term future of Kodak,” Golisano said in a statement. “We are very confident in the company’s leadership, vision and new growth opportunities and are proud to be investing in a global company headquartered in Rochester, N.Y.”

Additionally, Kennedy Lewis Investment Management LLC has provided Kodak with an initial $225 million term loan and a commitment to provide delayed-draw term loans of up to an additional $50 million, which may be drawn on or before February 26, 2023. The term loans have a five-year maturity and are non-amortizing.

Kennedy Lewis also has purchased 1 million shares of the company’s common stock at a purchase price of $10 per share, as well as $25 million of the company’s newly issued 5 percent unsecured convertible promissory notes due May 28, 2026. As part of the agreement, Kennedy Lewis will have the right for three years to nominate one person to be elected to Kodak’s board of directors.

“Kodak has made tremendous strides over the last few years under Jim Continenza’s leadership. We are pleased to support the company in its continued efforts to fortify its balance sheet and provide the capital assistance needed to enable Kodak to pivot forward to pursue its strategic growth initiatives. We feel strongly that the company is well positioned for the future,” said Darren Richman, co-founder of Kennedy Lewis.

With the proceeds from the transactions, Kodak repurchased 1 million shares of the company’s 5.5 percent Series A Convertible Preferred Stock due to mature on Nov. 15, 2021, from funds managed by Southeastern Asset Management for $100 million plus accrued and unpaid dividends. In addition, Kodak has issued the Southeastern-managed funds one million shares of Series B Preferred Stock in exchange for the remaining Series A Preferred Stock held by the funds, plus payment of accrued and unpaid dividends.

“Since Jim Continenza and his team took over at Kodak, there have been dramatic improvements in operating costs and the balance sheet, as well as new product introductions. Jim’s team has also opened up the possibility of new business lines which would build on legacy assets and institutional strengths,” said Staley Cates, vice-chairman of Southeastern Asset Management.

Kodak has entered into a cash collateralized Letter of Credit Facility Agreement for up to $50 million and amended its ABL Credit Agreement to extend the maturity date to Feb. 26, 2024, and decrease the aggregate commitments from $110 million to $90 million.

The transactions provide the company with up to $310 million of incremental cash to invest in growth opportunities in Kodak’s core businesses of print and advanced materials and chemicals, officials said Wednesday.

The transactions address the mandatory redemption of the Series A Preferred Stock that was required in November 2021, extend the maturity date of the company’s ABL and limit the amount of cash needed to service capital.

Jim Continenza
Jim Continenza

“Over the past two years, we have taken a number of significant steps to strengthen our financial position,” said Continenza, Kodak’s executive chairman and CEO. “Financing secured through Kennedy Lewis and investments made by Grand Oaks Capital and funds managed by Southeastern Asset Management represent the next step in our strategy for returning the company to growth and help position us to invest in expanding our core businesses in print and advanced materials and chemicals.”

Shares of company stock (NYSE: KODK) closed Tuesday at $8.62 and were moving upward Wednesday afternoon. Shares were up 8 percent to $9.31 at 3:30 p.m.

[email protected] / 585-653-4021
Follow Velvet Spicer on Twitter: @Velvet_Spicer

Golisano Autism Center opens

The long-awaited Golisano Autism Center opened its doors last week, but celebrated in earnest on Thursday with organization leaders, elected officials and Rochester philanthropist and Paychex Inc. founder Tom Golisano, who made the dream a reality with the initial $3 million donation.

Ann Costello and Tom Golisano prepare to cut the ribbon on the newly-opened Golisano Autism Center. (Photo by Velvet Spicer)
Ann Costello and Tom Golisano prepare to cut the ribbon on the newly-opened Golisano Autism Center. (Photo by Velvet Spicer)

“For them to pull it off, I consider it very unique,” Golisano said following a ribbon-cutting Thursday. “It took some skilled people to make it happen because you just don’t see this type of thing happen every day. Even in a nice community like Rochester, it just doesn’t happen. So I’m really happy and proud of these people who were able to pull it off.

“When you take a look at what it is, who it’s serving and the quantity of people that it’s serving, what a great deal,” he added.

The 33,000-square-foot facility includes custom areas for education, therapy, job training, indoor and outdoor recreation areas—including trampolines and a ball pit—sensory rooms and space to eat and relax. Teams from SWBR Architects & Engineers P.C., Marathon Engineering and the Pike Co. Inc. worked together to bring the space to life.

The autism center was the brainchild of Mary Walsh Boatfield, president and CEO of CP Rochester and chairperson of the Golisano Autism Center, who collaborated with AutismUp Executive Director Sarah Milko and Al Sigl Community of Agencies President Thomas O’Connor on the center’s concept.

“In 2015, the founders identified the need for providers in the Greater Rochester area to come together and transform delivery and access to services for individuals and families with autism,” Boatfield said to a standing-room-only crowd at Thursday’s ribbon cutting.

Ann Costello, Tom Golisano, Sarah Milko, Thomas O'Connor and Mary Walsh Boatfield were instrumental in pulling the Golisano Autism Center together. (Photo by Velvet Spicer)
From left to right: Ann Costello, Tom Golisano, Sarah Milko, Thomas O’Connor and Mary Walsh Boatfield were instrumental in pulling the Golisano Autism Center together. (Photo by Velvet Spicer)

The three founders traveled across the state looking for ideas and benchmarks for the new center but found nothing approaching the scope of their idea. In 2017, they met with Golisano, who did not hesitate to offer $2.5 million toward the center. The Golisano Foundation trustees gave an additional $500,000.

Before long, Boatfield, Milko and O’Connor were collaborating with the team behind the newly announced University of Rochester Medicine’s Golisano Pediatric Behavioral Health & Wellness, which had received $5 million in funding from Golisano. It was decided the two centers would share the Science Parkway property with a connection between the two buildings. The pediatric center is under construction.

The project broke ground in March of this year.

In July, the Golisano Autism Center announced its $9 million fundraising campaign, “Putting the Pieces Together.” More than 170 donors have committed $7.6 million toward the campaign, Boatfield said.

Rochester is home to some 10,000 individuals with autism. The new center in its first week provided preschool and school-age educational services to 40 students ages 5 to 13 from 14 different school districts. Fifteen percent of students served are from the Rochester City School District, Boatfield noted.

“More than 200 speech, occupational and music therapy sessions have been provided in just one week,” she added. “The Golisano Autism Center is a one-stop autism hub with 14 providers.”

Providers include the center’s founders, as well as Arc of Monroe, Easter Seals, Happiness House, the Hochstein School, School of the Holy Childhood and Mary Cariola Children’s Center and others.

Location was key to the success of the Golisano Autism Center; it had to be in the city of Rochester, accessible to all, on a bus line and near expressways. The number of students served daily eventually will grow to 130, Boatfield said.

“By year five we hope that we have touched every single one of those 10,000 individuals in our community with autism,” Boatfield said.

“We’re going to grow this thing. It’s going to grow in size and scope because we have more requests and more providers that were identified through our comprehensive approach,” O’Connor said.

The center offers evaluation, early intervention, childcare, after school and respite services, employment, arts and theater, a housing liaison and more.

“It is a model of collaboration, and we know collaboration is not easy,” said Golisano Foundation Director Ann Costello.

Tom Golisano and his grandson, Max Cerone, who will use some of the services offered at the new Golisano Autism Center. (Photo by Velvet Spicer)
Tom Golisano and his grandson, Max Cerone, who will use some of the services offered at the new Golisano Autism Center. (Photo by Velvet Spicer)

Golisano—whose personal philanthropy through the years totals more than $300 million—noted that he has a personal reason for underwriting projects that benefit individuals with autism and other disabilities. His stepson, Mike Cerone, his wife Carly and grandson, Max attended Thursday’s event. Max, who has been part of Autism Up since he was three, will continue to use the autism center’s services, the Cerones said.

Golisano added that his philanthropy could not have happened without the success of Paychex.

“None of this could ever happen if it wasn’t for the 15,000 employees, the 170,000 clients and thousands and thousands of shareholders,” he said. “They really are the ones that make it possible.”

[email protected] / 585-653-4021
Follow Velvet Spicer on Twitter: @Velvet_Spicer

Golisano honored for Special Olympics philanthropy

In the five years since Special Olympics launched its Healthy Communities initiative, Thomas Golisano, the Rochester philanthropist and Paychex Inc. founder, has donated $37 million to the program.

Thomas Golisano arrives at an event honoring him for his contributions to the Special Olympics Healthy Communities program. (Photo by Velvet Spicer)
Thomas Golisano arrives at an event honoring him for his contributions to the Special Olympics Healthy Communities program. (Photo by Velvet Spicer)

On Friday, Golisano was honored for his contributions at a private event at Rochester Institute of Technology’s B. Thomas Golisano College of Computing and Information Sciences, where the latest Golisano Archives Exhibit was unveiled.

“What Healthy Communities is all about is many athletes come to our events with some sort of physical disability. It could be eyes, ears, teeth, feet, and what Healthy Communities does is it sets up tents at the events and doctors from the community come in and volunteer and they diagnose the young people,” Golisano explained. “In some cases they can actually make a recommendation.”

The program stockpiles hundreds of pairs of eyeglasses, for example, so if doctors see a youngster who needs glasses, chances are they have something that will benefit the child.

“The doctors are great,” Golisano added. “They do it on a volunteer basis.”

Healthy Communities is the brainchild of Golisano and Special Olympics International Chairman Timothy Shriver, who wanted to improve health outcomes for people with intellectual disabilities, with the ultimate goal of ensuring that all were receiving health services and reaching their full potential.

Thomas Golisano, center, is joined by his family and speakers at Friday's event, honoring him for his involvement in Special Olymps and archive exhibit unveiling
Thomas Golisano, center, is joined by his family and speakers at Friday’s event, honoring him for his involvement in Special Olympics and unveiling the latest Golisano archive exhibit.

The program would build upon the already successful Special Olympics Healthy Athletes initiative, which was started in 1997 and offers health services and information to athletes in dire need.

In 2016, Special Olympics health experts conducted more than 150,000 free screenings around the world. To date, more than 1.9 million Healthy Athletes screenings have been given in more than 135 countries.

The first four years of the Healthy Communities initiative was a trial balloon, Golisano said Friday.

“It went great so we saw no reason not to continue,” he said, adding with a smile that the program’s success was astounding.

The Healthy Communities program targets all individuals with intellectual disabilities, particularly those in rural areas underserved by medicine. A Healthy Community is a location officially recognized by Special Olympics for efforts in creating year-round access to quality health care.

The newest Golisano archive exhibit at Rochester Institute of Technology's B. Thomas Golisano College of Computing and Information Sciences. (Photo by Velvet Spicer)
The newest Golisano archive exhibit at Rochester Institute of Technology’s B. Thomas Golisano College of Computing and Information Sciences. (Photo by Velvet Spicer)

“With the support of the Golisano Foundation and the general investment of Tom Golisano, we are trying to support countries, governments on transforming their health systems and their services, and to facilitate access for people with intellectual disabilities,” said Javier Vasquez, senior director of health systems for Special Olympics. “Our goal is to have 11 million people with intellectual disabilities with access to health care by 2020.”

Special Olympics has some 5 million athletes, and the vast majority participate in the Healthy Athletes screenings, Vasquez said.

“We need to work harder in order to unlock these services in general hospitals, in national clinics, in local clinics, in national health facilities and in private services, too,” he added. “This investment is empowering health systems in 170 countries and opening doors in so many countries to guarantee access for people with intellectual disabilities.”

During Friday’s presentation, RIT President David Munson noted that both the Golisano Foundation and the Special Olympics were renowned for their work in helping individuals with intellectual disabilities.

“When they joined together to launch the Healthy Communities initiative, their combined power began transforming the experiences for many people around the world from struggle to strength,” Munson said.

Some 200 million people around the world have intellectual disabilities, said Ann Costello, Golisano Foundation’s executive director, many of whom suffer from needless chronic pain and disease because they lack access to basic health care. Health indicators show that people with intellectual disabilities are two times more likely to die before age 50 than adults without intellectual disabilities.

“Thanks to Tom, and his initial gift of $12 million, 2012 was a pivotal year for people with intellectual disabilities. It marked the start of an entirely new health programming model for Special Olympics,” Costello said, adding that she was at the 2015 World Summer Games in Los Angeles to announce Golisano’s additional $25 million gift. “I think when you work with Tom and Tim Shriver and you put together a vision, a commitment, and you work hard, you get results.”

The Healthy Communities progress continues in 80 communities in 54 countries around the world, Costello said.

Special Olympian Hanna Atkinson was on hand Friday to offer her story of both hope and success. Born with Down syndrome, Atkinson at the age of 2 was diagnosed with leukemia.

“This is the story of what can happen when a girl with Down syndrome survives cancer,” Atkinson said in a video she submitted for Special Olympics consideration. “She can go from being a girl who talked with her hands to being a girl who gives a commencement speech at her high school graduation. She can be a TV reporter for Denver 7 News. She can be a girl whose life is filled with adventure.”

Atkinson thanked Golisano for his support of Special Olympics.

“Without his support, Special Olympics athletes would not be able to pursue our dreams and realize our full potential,” said the 2016 Special Olympics Silver and Bronze medalist.

The latest Golisano Archives Exhibit, located at RIT’s College of Computing, contains a world map showing where the Healthy Communities programs have been established, as well as medals and lanyards from Special Olympics International showing the importance of the connection to their events.

The newest Golisano archive exhibit includes thank-you cards from children around the world. (Photo by Velvet Spicer)
The newest Golisano archive exhibit includes thank-you cards from children around the world. (Photo by Velvet Spicer)

The display also includes a hand-painted batik thanking Golisano and a number of cards from children around the world thanking him for what he has done.

“One of the most important things that Tom Golisano and the Golisano Foundation have done for the Special Olympics movement is bring about real change to the health of people with intellectual disabilities around the world,” Atkinson said. “My vision, as a Special Olympics health messenger, is to improve and educate others to be their best self, to live a healthier, happier life.”