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For Internet security company, everything once old is new again

| Thursday, Sept. 13, 2012, 12:01 a.m.
Tiversa Inc. CEO Robert Boback outside the company's soon-to-be Downtown headquarters. (Philip G. Pavely | Tribune-Review)

Tiversa Inc. is restoring the exterior of its new Downtown headquarters to look much like it did when it was a department store in the early 20th century.

Inside, “it's more like ‘Star Trek,' ” CEO Robert Boback said of the Liberty Avenue building where the Internet security and intelligence company is relocating from offices in Cranberry.

Tiversa has just under 40 employees and easily could double that number in the next year, Boback said. The company monitors the Internet for about a million clients ranging from Fortune 500 companies to global law enforcement agencies and individuals — finding sensitive files that might be exposed, for example, or guarding consumers' data against identity theft.

The move to the former Meyer Jonasson & Co. store will allow Tiversa to triple its space, to about 30,000 square feet. It also provides a visible, city-center locale that should help the company to attract talented software engineers and other professionals, Boback said.

“It's close to Market Square, and we loved the architecture,” Boback said. “It was a goal of ours to take a building that dates to 1900, leave the classic architecture in place and renovate the interior to make it as high-tech as possible.”

Tiversa, which bought the building for $2.6 million in April and occupies the fifth floor, is renovating the sixth and seventh floors and using the second floor as storage. A large basement is being converted to a fitness and recreation area.

The company's relocation should be completed by late September.

The building where Jonasson, a New York merchant, opened his women's and children's clothing store in 1909 has several tenants: Joseph Orlando Gentlemen's Clothier on the first floor, plus real estate firm Langholz Wilson Ellis Inc. and architects Celli Flynn Brennen. The Jonasson's store operated until 1963.

Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership CEO Jeremy Waldrup said Tiversa, with its move, “wanted to put themselves out there as a Pittsburgh business leader.”

In addition to restoring the ornate structure that sits slightly diagonal to Liberty Avenue, the company will be a founding partner of the Green Building Alliance's Pittsburgh 2030 District, pledging to cut its energy, water and transportation use in half by that year.

Boback said Tiversa started in Moon, later moved to Franklin Park and was outgrowing its leased space in Cranberry, prompting the latest change of address.

The company also needed more network bandwidth, and figured it could make changes more easily in a building it owned, he said. Tiversa has a backup data location 80 miles away.

Downtown is an easier commute for employees who live in all directions from the city, not just the North Hills, said Boback, a Pittsburgh native who founded Tiversa in 2004 with partner Sam Hopkins, who since has retired.

Early on, prospective investors urged Tiversa to move to a technology hub such as Palo Alto, Austin or Boston, to find a bigger pool of talented job candidates.

“I took that as a challenge. I said, ‘We will grow a great business here,'” he said.

Waldrup said other technology companies have moved Downtown recently including Maya Design, from the South Side, and event ticketing company ShowClix Inc. from Shadyside.

Tiversa is expanding its product offerings. A new service called Dreya, targeted for entertainers, soon will debut, Boback said.

Music and movie sales in the past could be tracked through store sales but, “in a downloading world, artists don't know where their fans are anymore,” Boback said. Dreya will, for example, provide global “heat maps” that show where a band is most popular and where marketing dollars should be spent.

Kim Leonard is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-380-5606 or kleonard@tribweb.com.

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