When Bob Boback set out to create Tiversa
in 2003, he was defining an entirely new space in the security field that focused on combating online piracy, an issue that would soon bubble over into one of the most difficult problems for content producers in the technology age.
One can imagine that validation was important in the early going. Like when Boback’s patent attorney told him that the technology his company Tiversa was developing was worth $50 million. Three years later when signing for a venture investment, Boback realized that he was a multi-millionaire (on paper, at least), and bought out his co-founder Sam Hopkins so he could retire at age 38.
The company has enjoyed monumental success ever since. Its peer-to-peer intelligence services can monitor more than 550 million users issuing 1.8 billion searches daily
Tiversa’s work is weighty. In 2009 it provided the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee with 200 sensitive military documents
it accessed using peer-to-peer networks used by government employees. The company is also a partner of the FBI-LEEDA (Law Enforcement Executive Development Association), Infragard Pittsburgh and the Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force.
The company has a long history of growth and recently purchased a building for $2.6 million in downtown Pittsburgh to house its operations. It also plans on hiring more staff in 2013.
What was the inspiration behind Tiversa?
The idea behind Tiversa literally started as a dream. I wanted to provide a viable solution to the media industry to address the billions of dollars lost to illegal piracy of copyrighted goods
What was the biggest challenge in getting Tiversa off the ground?
The biggest challenge at Tiversa and almost any business is always that of finding the RIGHT people to work with. Like every other company, Tiversa has made some missteps in that process but today we have an incredible staff of extremely talented individuals.
How is Tiversa growing?
Through the creation of solid partnerships and strong technology, Tiversa has experienced steady growth since the very beginning. We continue recognize significant year over year growth with healthy margins. Our staff has continued to grow as well and should see considerable growth this year.
As a private company, we don't share financials, however we have had several consecutive years of triple digit revenue growth. We have only engaged in a single round of venture investment. We have also recently purchased a 7 story building in Pittsburgh for $2.6 million without additional investment.
What resources did you take advantage of to grow Tiversa?
We were able to assemble a fantastic Advisory Board at Tiversa that includes the former presidential candidate and Supreme Allied Commander of NATO ,Gen. Wesley Clark (ret). We also have the former eBay billionaire and COO, Maynard Webb and the former White House Cyber Czar, Howard Schmidt.
What's the biggest challenge you've overcome, personally or professionally?
Professionally - the largest challenge was defining an entirely new space in the security field. The challenge was accentuated by the fact that Tiversa had the only visibility into the space.
How can we stimulate small business to be an engine for job creation?
When the economic downturn occurred in 2008, many venture capital and private equity firms stopped putting capital into start-ups and early stage companies due to the higher risk of the return. This negatively and severely impacted the job market. This country was built on, and prides itself on, innovation. The driver for the innovation is private equity and venture investment. If incentives were given to allow for more PRIVATE equity investment vs. publicly-traded investments, you would see considerably more growth in the job market as well as more innovative products in the marketplace. This can have a global impact as well.
What key partnerships in your region or state have helped Tiversa grow?
Early on, most of our work was outside of PA. Recently, we have benefited from a great relationship with PNC Bank and its President Sy Holzer. He and the leadership at PNC have established a true goal of success in our region. We share that goal at Tiversa and look forward to working with them to achieve it.
Where does your region need to improve in terms of support for entrepreneurs?
This region still has a fair distance to go to get there. In Silicon Valley, there is consistent interactions among entrepreneurs and start-up teams, such that most of them know each other across companies. In this area, that is not the case. Most work alone. We believe that with the "community" effect in place, this region can succeed at much higher rate due to the shared experiences both positive and negative.
What's the big differentiator for Tiversa?
Tiversa a number of differentiators. We have over 100 patents, issued or pending. We have a culture that is different than most companies where we are less concerned about an individual's past or pedigree and more concerned about the individual's future and potential.
-- by Joe Petrucci