Crypto AG

During the past 15 years of visiting over 3,000 companies I've never been threatened with legal action-that is until now. Crypto AG manages to make my attempt to visit them a memorable experience.

Privately held Crypto specializes in the use of security solutions in all types of communications systems. The company's website says they do business in over 100 countries and deal with many governments. I would normally tell you a company's annual revenue or number of employees but with Crypto that information doesn't seem to be available anywhere.

On June 6, 2002 I received an e-mail from Marco Weber, Crypto's PR & Advertising Manager. In it I'm informed, "This is to advise you that we would not participate in your research".
A few days later (June 9, 2002) I reply via e-mail to Mr. Weber. Here's what I wrote:

Dear Mr. Weber, I was very disappointed to receive your email declining to participate in my unusual odyssey. According to Crypto's website the company's celebrating its 50 anniversary this year. From a public relations standpoint it seems to me you'd enjoy a cyclist from California dropping by to help celebrate the occasion. Since no reason was given I can only speculate it has to do with the company's secretive nature. Well, this sure does nothing to correct that. Just to let you know I will be stopping on the public street outside your head office to take pictures of the place. It's something I do for my records and to show I physically saw a head office with my own eyes. I'm sorry the story I write won't show Crypto in a positive light. Yours truly, Paul Wolsfeld

On June 17, 2002 I arrive in Zug and cycle two miles to the suburb of Steinhausen. It's here I find the six-story, blue trimmed headquarters of Crypto. It looks to have been built in the early 1980's. There's a large flag flying out front with "50 years" written on it. Directly across the street is a neighborhood shopping center. I was going to enter the building and see if I could talk to Mr. Weber to find out why they didn't want to participate but decided against it. Still, why didn't he give me a reason? Was it because they thought what I was doing stupid? Was it because no one had time? Could it be they were in the midst of management shake-up or that they're just plain secretive and don't talk to anyone?

Amazing. The day after riding by their offices (June 18, 2002) I receive an e-mail from Mr. Weber replying to the one I sent him June 9th. Here's what he wrote:

Dear Mr. Paul Wolsfeld

Thank you for your e-mail reply. With much surprise we read the contents of your e-mail.

We do not think it shows very good style to threaten a company as you say at the end of your e-mail: "I'am sorry the story I write won't show Crypto in a positive light". We are very much surprised about your mental attitude, which does not fit in with a sportiv ideal. We would like to inform you that it is our common policy not to give any data to outside persons. It has nothing to do with a company secretive nature. We think you have to accept that, as we accept that you are touring the world on bicycle. Should you persist on your negative attitude vis-à-vis our company, we will hand over the matter to our lawyer who will be sueing being the case.

We wish you all the best on your further stages on your european tour.

Kind regards,

Marco Weber



Hmmm. So let me see if I have this straight. I send Giuliano Otth, CEO of Crypto, a letter of introduction explaining what I do and how over the past 15 years I've visited more than 3,000 companies. I enclose news clippings and give them my website address so they can get a taste of what I write about. Crypto's manager of Public Relations responds with an e-mail saying they don't want to participate but gives no explanation. I then respond to his e-mail noting my disappointment, their lack of explaining why they don't want to participate and how it'll be difficult to put a positive spin on the story. Crypto's manager of Public Relations then responds by saying I'll be sued if I "persist on your negative attitude vis-à-vis our company".

So, in 2002 Crypto is celebrating 50 years in business. Having been founded in the Zug area and been around for 50 years it must be well known by the locals. Right? During my time in Zug I couldn't find a single person who had heard of Crypto let alone knew what they did. Why is that? Many people who visit my website are job hunters looking for any information they can on potential employers. If you were going to work for a company wouldn't you be interested in knowing how big or small it is? Do they have 100 employees or a 1,000? Do they have $25 million in revenues or $250 million? What's the corporate culture like? Is headquarters in a campus-like setting or in a run-down industrial park?