Project Spotlight: Twistlock
Headquarters: Portland, OR
Announced Baton Rouge location: April 24, 2018
Interview with John Morello, Twistlock Chief Technology Officer.
Tell us about Twistlock.
Twistlock makes the leading cloud native cyber security platform. That’s a lot of buzzwords, but cloud native is basically a way of building and running apps at planetary scale – it’s what Gmail, Netflix, and Uber use for example. We make a security platform that helps customers secure all their cloud native apps, across all the clouds they run on.
Twistlock is the industry’s most complete, automated and scalable container cybersecurity platform. Who are Twistlock’s ideal clients?
It’s pretty diverse – as ‘software eats the world’ and every organization becomes software driven, it’s not just tech companies. More than a quarter of the Fortune 100 run Twistlock, as do half the cabinet level agencies of the U.S. Government, and all Department of Defense branches. We have customers like Aetna, Walgreens, USAA and many others.
Why did you choose Baton Rouge to expand Twistlock’s footprint?
I’m from Louisiana, graduated from LSU, and have lived here most of my life. I know that we have smart people here that do great work. The internet really levels the playing field on location – we use the same tools and work with the same customers here that you could work with in San Francisco. Most people from Louisiana love this place, and if we create opportunities for them to work on cool stuff at great companies, there’s no reason we can’t develop a digital economy here. LED and others have done great work with IBM, DXC, CGI, and other large corporate IT sites. I hope Twistlock joins these companies in helping to create a startup culture here.
How does your partnership with the LSU Innovation Park help you meet your business goals?
The Innovation Park takes all the friction out of siting a location. We have great bandwidth, comfortable offices, and a nice entrepreneurial campus feel without having to deal with setting up utilities, janitorial services, and such. More importantly, it provides great access to LSU faculty and students. For example, we just hired a computer science graduate student whose thesis is on cloud native security.
What do you see for the future of cybersecurity in Baton Rouge?
Hopefully, over time, cybersecurity will grow its industry presence here, attract people from outside the state, and develop a sustainable culture and job market in the area. And that’s not just wishful thinking either – the demand for cybersecurity talent far outpaces the supply and is driving many organizations to supplement their own staff with outside help and expertise. A lot of those companies that provide that help operate out of places like the Bay Area, where it’s really hard for even well-compensated engineers to own a house.
We can offer a lot of things young professionals are looking for – great restaurants, festivals, unique culture, and access to the outdoors, but with a much lower cost of living. We can really capitalize on the culture across Lafayette, Baton Rouge, and New Orleans to attract talent to this growing industry.
How has the state and city of Baton Rouge assisted Twistlock in its growth?
LED, LSU, and BRAC have all been excellent to work with. When I first proposed opening the center here, I kept expectations low within the Twistlock leadership team because I didn’t know what support we’d get. I contacted LED Secretary Don Pierson directly, he replied almost immediately, and connected me with BRAC. The whole process was just…professional. We talked about what we wanted, they understood what we needed, and they clearly communicated along each step of the way. It made me feel confident as a citizen that we have a good team working to bring and build business here.