Partnerships with growing businesses exemplify how LSU fosters research and catalyzes economic development.Give
Meet LSU alumnus John Morello, the chief technology officer (CTO) of Twistlock, who was instrumental in opening up a new site for the booming cybersecurity company in LSU’s Innovation Park.
As a first-year student at LSU, John Morello had almost no experience with computers. He was assigned to the LSU Office of Computing Services through a scholarship program with a student worker component, sparking a permanent passion for cybertechnology.
“In the late ’90s, you really saw the internet’s prevalence rise, reaching to everyone’s desktop on campus,” Morello recalled. “This came with a lot of security risk, and people weren’t sure yet how to respond or protect themselves. That really interested me.”
After graduating from the LSU E. J. Ourso College of Business, Morello leapt immediately into a position at Microsoft, along with several other LSU alumni. One particularly notable achievement: During the George W. Bush administration, he worked at the White House building the system for Personal Identity Validation cards, the first “smart” ID cards for federal and civilian military employees. From Microsoft, Morello joined a Fortune 500 chemical manufacturer as chief information security officer. In 2015, he was tapped by friends from Microsoft who had recently launched cybersecurity start-up Twistlock to join as the second employee and CTO.
Twistlock serves clients by integrating cybersecurity into the development and operation of cloud apps. The company works with hundreds of large organizations around the world, including more than 35 percent of the Fortune 100 and the majority of cabinet-level departments in the U.S. government. As Twistlock grew, so did the need for additional employees and sites. Morello suggested Louisiana.
“We knew we needed to hire people with deep technical knowledge and the ability to interact with customers, understand their problems, and leverage Twistlock to develop solutions,” Morello said. “We chose Baton Rouge in part because of the great pool of talent at LSU. One of the first things I did after we made the decision was reach out to the university.”
Since then, Morello has been heading up Twistlock’s Baton Rouge office from LSU’s Innovation Park. The site employs 12 people, including six LSU alumni. Morello is rooting for current employees to launch their own successful start-ups someday.
“LSU’s support of entrepreneurs is critical. If we can grow the start-up ecosystem in Louisiana and establish a culture of entrepreneurship, we will see everybody’s standard of living rise,” he explained. “The most important ingredient is human capital. LSU graduates have both the skills and global perspective to succeed. By creating opportunities to do work that is meaningful and innovative, you not only build an effective, stable business—you transform lives.”