7 Ways that Security Firm Rapid7 Is Bucking IT-Business Trends

9/24/12Follow @gthuang

In case you’ve forgotten, cybersecurity is still one of the biggest issues in the tech world—and one that is being fiercely contested by many companies in New England and beyond.

One company that stands out from the fray is Boston-based Rapid7. We’ve previously written about the firm’s approach to developing software to protect against cyber-espionage and test businesses’ IT networks for security flaws. Rapid7 also made our recent list of biggest technology bets in the area; it has raised $59 million in venture funding to date. Plus, you’ve got to like a company whose new innovation center is on the 14th floor of a building whose elevator only goes to 13. (More on that in a minute.)

I recently caught up with Mike Tuchen, Rapid7’s CEO, at the company’s newest office, in Kendall Square (see photo above). We covered a range of security topics—among them, the recent Java software attacks; the Apple-FBI unique-device-identifier data leak; and this summer’s failed U.S. cybersecurity bill. Sadly, there’s no sign of any slowdown in attacks, Tuchen says. “The root cause boils down to economics. Cyber attacks are a huge, multibillion-dollar, illegal business,” he says. “As long as there’s things to be stolen on the Internet, there will be people doing it.”

And there also will be companies making a living by protecting others. It struck me that Tuchen’s firm does a lot of things differently from the conventional wisdom in tech-business. Whether it will all pay off in the end, it’s too early to say—but it should be instructive for the rest of the industry to watch. Here are seven ways that Rapid7 is going against the grain:

1. Setting up shop in Cambridge (from Boston). The company opened its new innovation center on the aforementioned 14th floor at One Main Street in Kendall, in June. This happened as a lot of tech startups have been moving out of Cambridge or choosing to set up their offices in Boston. Rapid7’s presence in Kendall is still relatively small—20-some employees out of around 150 in the Boston area, most of them in the Prudential building (and north of 275 total)—but the office space itself is something to behold. It’s full of hand-carved wood, furniture built out of the floor (see above), intricate ceiling décor, and stunning views of the river and skyline.

2. Inside sales, not enterprise sales. The traditional industry practice is to hire a big sales team, buy expensive ads, and build relationships with high-paying customers over years. But the trend has shifted to … Next Page »

Gregory T. Huang is Xconomy's Deputy Editor, National IT Editor, and the Editor of Xconomy Boston. You can e-mail him at gthuang@xconomy.com or call him at 617-252-7323. Follow @gthuang

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