Mike Torto, a veteran software executive who has helped take one company public, is the new chief executive officer at privately held

rPath, a venture capital-backed firm founded by former executives at Red Hat, is an emerging leader in virtualization and cloud computing technology.

Meanwhile, Billy Marshall, a co-founder of rPath and its founding CEO, has left the company. Although he remains a shareholder he no longer has an active role in rPath, according to a company spokesperson.

“He stepped away many months ago – early this year – to pursue some other interests,” said Jake Sorofman, rPath’s vice president of marketing. “He remains a friend, ally and a big part of our success to date.”

Torto takes over CEO duties from rPath Chairman Tim Buckley, who had led the company since Marshall stepped away from the CEO post last year.

Erik Troan, who launched rPath along with Marshall after they both had worked at Raleigh-based Red Hat, remains the company’s chief technology officer and is a member of the board.

Torto most recently served as president and CEO of Centive, an enterprise incentive management software and services firm. The company recently was acquired by Xactly Corp.

In 1999, Torto helped take SWAN International, a European software and application delivery firm, public on the European EASDAQ exchange. He also has worked at InCert Software.

Local Tech Wire talked with Torto about his new position and what he sees as the challenges and opportunities in leading rPath:

Congratulations on your new position and welcome to the Triangle.

Thank you very much. It’s great to be here.

What factors excite you most about the position at rPath?

Three things:

(1) Team – rPath has tremendous talent and a driven and committed corporate culture. This is a passionate team with real determination to have major impact. But it’s not just bluster; they have a lot of substance behind their ambition.

(2) Technology – The products Erik Troan and his team have developed will fundamentally change how enterprises deploy and maintain applications. It’s extremely innovative technology, but it’s also built to first-class commercial standards for
quality and performance.

(3) Timing – virtualization and cloud computing are forcing a change in how organizations think about application delivery, which creates a tremendous opportunity for rPath. These trends are white hot and their momentum is a catalyst for rPath’s growth.

Additionally, enterprises are being forced to reduce costs and find ways to do more with less in IT. This is also driving considerable interest in rPath for automating deployment and maintenance of applications.

Is rPath seeking any additional funding at this point? Or are you well funded for immediate future?

We are well capitalized, supported by top tier venture firms with a lot of dry powder (additional capital) for rPath for when we decide timing is right for accelerating growth. For now, we are operating under a fiscally prudent, managed growth strategy. We have no immediate plans for additional fundraising.

Do you plan any changes in directions and/or new product initiatives for rPath?

The primary goal is to scale the business. The current team has created a very solid foundation for growth and the next phase will be harvesting the investments we’ve made to scale revenue.

What is your primary role at rPath – being an evangelist? Salesman?

I’m the chief strategy officer, chief revenue officer, a player, and a coach. You wear a lot of hats when you run a start up. Building a loyal and happy customer base is job one.

How did you learn about the rPath position?

There was an active search commissioned by rPath. They found me.

Do you consider yourself a programmer or have you focused on software from the role as an executive? What led you into this field?

I’m not a programmer. I leave the “how” to superior talent like Erik Troan. I try to bring the “what if we could..” ideas to the operation with a focus on simplifying/solving real world problems. I focus from an executive level, but I do that by being involved in the details of every operational area. I am passionate about new technology and the possibilities of how to apply it.

You led a European firm to a successful IPO in 1999. Do you have in mind an exit strategy already for rPath?

I’m a big believer in the virtuous cycle—good things breed good things.

I’m focused on building an outstanding company that delivers exceptional value to customers, investors and employees. I don’t think in terms of exits as a primary goal. My goal is to make rPath a big success, which will lead to the right outcomes for all of our stakeholders.

You have been involved in startups before. What are some of the things you like about startups?

One of the things I love about startups is the clean slate you have to work with. You can be very creative and take risks. I love to take calculated risks and “change the game.” I love do things that our competitors aren’t willing or unable to do. A startup environment affords us this ability.

What are some of your dislikes?

I have an incredible sense of urgency. I want things to happen fast and expect great results. In a startup, there is often trial and error, so you need some patience in growing the business. You don’t always have the most desirable infrastructure in place , but you do often get greater productivity out of the resources you do have.

Did you know Erik Troan before taking this job?

I had met Erik through the interview process, but we had never met previously. I knew of Erik’s reputation and he was a major reason I considered the CEO position at rPath. You don’t often get to work with such proven talent in such a hot market space. After several meeting Erik, it was clear I wanted to work with him.

Will Billy Marshall have any continuing role with rPath moving forward?

Billy is a founder and a significant shareholder, but he doesn’t have an operating role today.