Catching Up With Brian Murphy, CEO of ReliaQuest 

A lot has happened in the world of Brian Murphy since Tampa Bay Business and Wealth featured him on its cover in December 2018. His business, ReliaQuest, a cybersecurity firm, based in Tampa, has grown substantially, his company’s name is now featured all over the country, associated with one of the biggest college bowl games, now called the ReliaQuest Bowl, and he has continued to give back generously to the community. 

Most recently: a $1 million donation to the Academy of Holy Names, in Tampa. 

As humble as he was in that story, in 2018, he remains the same guy today, despite all the additional success he’s welcomed during the past four years. He’s still doing “simple well.” 

TBBW caught up with Murphy for another “Cover Update.” This transcript has been edited for length and brevity. 

Walk me through some of the things that have happened since TBBW last spoke to you.

We’ve expanded. We’ve always been in the West, in Las Vegas, but we opened up what we call our headquarters of the west, in Salt Lake City, and that’s grown from zero to probably 125 people since we last spoke.

A lot of our software development and engineering [team members] live there but it’s grown to hold every function in the company and that’s why we call it the headquarters of the West because we’ve got everything from accounting to sales [there], so it’s been a great location for us. 

We continue to expand our operating center in Dublin. Last year, we acquired Digital Shadows for $160 million. They were based in London and had about 150 people. We did that in June of 2022. And so that opened an operating center for us in Canary Wharf, in London. That was a great acquisition and added some unique technology to our existing security operations platform, GrayMatter. 

We sponsored the ReliaQuest Bowl, formerly known as the Outback Bowl. I got the call about the opportunity to be the sponsor of the bowl game while I was landing in San Francisco to work through the final details of acquiring Digital Shadows and so we did both deals at the same time, which is in true ReliaQuest fashion. 

As we sit today, we’re over 1,200 people, worldwide, working in six operating centers in Tampa, Salt Lake City, Las Vegas, Dublin, London and then we opened up, about two years ago, an operating center in Pannai, India, right in the middle of the pandemic. 

We’ve probably grown 2½ times in revenue since the last time that we spoke. 

We continue to support our community in a big way. Wherever we have an operating center we offer support, through different vehicles such as Junior Achievement, Boys and Girls Clubs to the tune of about $1.5 million a year, in financial investment. And more than 4,000 hours of volunteering that our teammates invest back into the community.

I know philanthropy is incredibly important to you. Recently you and your wife, Renée, shared a very generous gift to the Academy of Holy Names. Talk about your personal philanthropic passions and why you choose to give so generously for the things that you do.

That Academy gift was important to Renée and I. It’s the first time we’ve let our name be public. We normally don’t [give publicly] just because it’s just not really who we are. We do it because we believe in the organizations and we like to kind of keep our head down and stay under the radar but with Academy we thought it was important, working with the new president there, Kevin Whitney, to use to draw some attention to what they’re doing [at the school]. 

ReliaQuest created a program pre-COVID[-19], in 2018, where we invested, I think $250,000 to combine some of the technical work that we were doing in the high school [at the Academy]. We had opportunities for students in [science, technology, education and mathematics] classes to come into our headquarters. 

In a given year, interns from high school to colleges come through ReliaQuest in some way, shape or form to be part of the STEM programs.

For Renée and I, this is our community. This is where our kids have grown up. This is where we want future generations to be and I kind of view all our communities that way. 

TBBW interviewed you for your cover in 2018. You were cover No. 4. How has Brian Murphy, the CEO, evolved since then? 

It’s coveted to the outside world, to earn that unicorn designation, the privately held company worth more than a billion dollars. To me, it doesn’t mean a lot. It’s important, I think, for our teammates. They appreciate it, but to me, it’s just something you grow through not something you grow to. You don’t get to that and stop. 

I think if you just look at how rare it is to grow a company to that size, well, you’ve got a responsibility to make an impact with that and you see it around our community, including the people you profile every month. All different industries, all different walks of life. There’s a common theme, most people look around and say, “How do I help?” and that’s something that Renée has done with her passion for the Guardian Ad Litem program, for example. It has really educated me on some things that happen right in our backyard. 

Do you want to talk a little bit about the decision to sponsor the ReliaQuest Bowl? What was the first game experience like? 

We didn’t go and seek out the sponsorship. We received a call from one of the people on the sponsorship side, and I think they had a ton of inbound interest, but it made sense, given our local footprint. I didn’t quite appreciate the economic impact of a college ballgame until the first conversation [with them] when I learned how much of the proceeds of the sponsorship actually go back to funding community organizations. 

They’re constantly investing back in the community and that aligns with us. It also aligned with our mission to raise awareness of an opportunity within cybersecurity. So what better way to do that on a bowl game that, I think, is one of the most-watched ESPN games in the bowl season. We felt like it was a unique opportunity give back to the community and it was so fun. Our team loved it.

Anything else you can share with our audience? What’s the next big thing for you? 

There’s a lot of talk around the generative AI. We launched something we’ve been working on for about 18 months. Here’s the thing about ReliaQuest, we have about 41,000 security events a week that come through our platform and at some level get automated. We have all this data, our own data, and we can trust it. We’re able to train our own models. We released that last week and it’s really amazing. We have a decade of data. It’s some really exciting stuff, from a tech perspective 

With most companies, it takes hours, if not days and weeks, to find something and then investigate it. With this generative AI model it’s less than six minutes. It’s crazy how fast that’s moving.

The AI component of tech and cybersecurity is going to continue to be a huge topic. 

There are two sides, the bad actors can use AI also. The good guys, we have to be really good at it because the bad guys, they don’t have to be as accurate as we are. They just need to be right one time and miss 1,000 times but we have to be right every time. We have to be very good at using automation and be very responsible using it, whereas if you’re a bad actor, you can just kind of let it fly because you don’t really care whether it works or not. You’re just going to keep trying. 

What’s your crystal ball telling you about the future of the Tampa Bay tech scene? 

We’re going to be uniquely Tampa Bay. What this community has is our humility and our grit, and that’s very unique to Tampa Bay. I think it’s really important to keep the perspective of, we don’t need to be like anybody else. We just need to be a better version of ourselves. Let’s just keep getting a little bit better, as a community, and support these companies that are growing. ♦

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