IT firm founder puts White House experience to work |

IT firm founder puts White House experience to work

John Seelmeyer

Tony Rucci knows all about the failure rate of startup small businesses, but he’s expecting 10-fold growth for his /Root Technology.

The firm, which specializes in information technology security for clients across the nation, opened its doors in May. Within a week, it was handling work for a major national financial institution that had sustained a security breach.

“I understand the statistics about startups. They’re against me. But I understand the market space,” says Rucci.

He started understanding the market space during a 21-year career in military counterintelligence. In his final assignment as a counterintelligence officer in the White House, Rucci was assigned as military support officer with First Lady Laura Bush after the Sept. 11 attacks.

He retired from the military in 2004, spent a couple of years handling intelligence work at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee and came to Reno as general manager of the data center launched by NJVC Inc. in South Meadows in mid-2012.

Not long after his arrival in northern Nevada, Rucci began hearing from business people who encouraged him to establish his own shop — and some of them offered financial backing as well.

“The business community opened up its arms to us,” he says.

/Root Technology opened with the help of one investor who provided the capital that acted as a safety net for Rucci and the company’s staff of three technology experts.

So far, the company hasn’t needed the safety net as a stream of clients, mostly big organizations with sophisticated IT security needs, have found their way to the /Root Technology’s offices near downtown Reno.

Rucci expects the company will be hiring 10 more staff members by the end of the year, setting the 10-fold growth into motion.

Much of that growth is likely to come from the financial and healthcare sectors, both of which work within strict legal requirements to ensure that their data remains secure.

But the BYOD — “Bring Your Own Device” — trend is widening the market for IT security services, Rucci says. Increasingly, companies worry about their exposure to IT breaches that result from stuff that’s hidden away in the software of the smartphones and other personal devices that employees connect into their employers’ networks.

/Root Technology also is funding its early growth through consulting contracts. For instance, it provides expertise on data center design and operation.

Marketing IT security, Rucci acknowledges, often is difficult because even big users would rather put their money somewhere other than prevention of a threat that’s difficult to see.

“It’s always an afterthought,” he says.

But he says the afterthought is moving toward the front of awareness of more corporate executives as they see the costs — mailed notifications, identity-theft programs and the like — faced by companies that have suffered big breaches of the security of their customer data.