Former RSA Executive Chairman Art Coviello Joins Rally Ventures As Venture Partner

Art Coviello

After retiring from RSA earlier this year, longtime security industry veteran and former RSA Executive Chairman Art Coviello has landed a new role as venture partner at Rally Ventures, a Menlo Park, Calif.-based early-stage investment company.

In his new position, Coviello will help both evaluate and choose investments for the firm, as well as advise companies in the portfolio. Coviello has had a longtime relationship with Rally Ventures, acting as a member of the company's Tech Partners program since 2013 and holding a long-standing friendship with General Partner and Co-Founder Charles Beeler.

The addition comes as Rally Ventures looks to expand its portfolio of enterprise security investments, the company said.

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"Art is a great addition to Rally Ventures both in the operational expertise he brings to the firm and the Rally portfolio, and the impact he will have on Rally's ability to build out our security portfolio and industry relationships," Beeler said in a statement.

In an interview with CRN, Coviello said he sees his new position as a "unique opportunity" to get involved with security startups from the very beginning stages.

"I want to stay current in the technology. There's still lots of gas in the tank. I still want to stay active in the industry and Rally, for me, represented a unique opportunity to see companies right at the start because Rally specializes in early-stage companies," Coviello said.

The advantage for early-stage investments is they get first-mover advantage to invest on the hundreds of startups in the market, Coviello said.

"There's just an incredible number of companies that are entering into the security space because it's such a big problem," Coviello said. "One of the benefits to be with an early-stage venture capital firm is we see deals before many others do."

Coviello didn't want to give away his competitive edge by revealing the areas he planned to drive security investments in, but did say that hot areas such as the Internet of Things are places they will "clearly be looking [into]." He highlighted investments the company has already made in startups like Bugcrowd, a vulnerability assessment company that uses crowdsourcing to find and solve attacks, as examples of what kind of innovative moves the company is looking to make.

Coviello was the CEO of RSA when it was purchased from EMC in 2006 and oversaw the company's growth from $25 million in 1995 to $1 billion in 2014. Last fall, he stepped down as president of the unit within EMC, replaced by current president Amit Yoran, and took the executive chairman position. In February, he announced his full retirement from the company, citing health concerns. However, Coviello said he is now feeling much better and is ready to get back to work.

"I'm in good health but there's some things that I need to monitor, but I'm not really concerned at this point," Coviello said. "I'm constantly working on my health and I'm excited to get back into the action."

RSA executives were not available to comment for this story.

Jamie Shepard, senior vice president of health care and corporate strategy at Dallas-based Lumenate, said it's a "good move" for Coviello,

"I think this is a great move for Art," Shepard said.

Shepard praised Coviello's ability to identify and lead the integration of emerging technology into the core security technologies, citing EMC's 2011 acquisition of NetWitness as an example. He predicted that Coviello would extend that experience to Rally Ventures, driving investments in emerging peripheral technologies that larger vendors, such as Cisco, could take advantage of.

"I think what he's going to probably try to do is not try to invest in disruptive technology but extend what people use at the core," Shepard said. "I think this puts Art in a really good place with Rally Ventures."