Michael D. Moore admits he was not a good college student.  

While the academic side of his college experience didn’t directly prepare him for his current role as founder and CEO of cybersecurity firm M3 Networks, what he was doing outside of class was. That was either fixing computers or hacking them.  

The now-43-year-old Moore always had a skill with computers, but his focus was sometimes off, he admits. 

His academic career peripatetic, the year 2001 found him working in the baggage department for American Airlines and taking college courses at Tarrant County College. Then 9/11 occurred, devastating the country and the airline industry. 

“I lost my job, along with 50,000 other people,” he said. 

Needing money, he took a job with an IT company. The company offered a training program with Cisco certification that was scheduled to take a year to complete. 

It took Moore four weeks and it was obvious to him, as well as his employers, that he had a knack for information technology. 

He finished his associate’s degree and got to work.  

“I have been evangelizing in my circles since I was 12 years old, these same principles of IT security and stuff like that,” he said. 

Instead of getting into trouble like some teens do, Moore would send out phishing emails. A phishing email is sent by someone posing as a legitimate source to convince the receiver to provide sensitive data such as banking, credit card information and passwords. 

The sender of the phishing email then takes the information and uses it for nefarious purposes. Not in Moore’s case. His phishing emails were both obvious and harmless. Still, he got responses. 

“I would send out phishing emails to AOL customers and say, ‘Hi, this is Steve Case (then head of early email service AOL). I’m the president of AOL. Please send me your password to this email address.’” he said.

He had a hit rate of about 10%, Moore estimates.

“Then I would spend my hours as an 18-year-old, not partying, but replying to these emails individually, ‘Hey, don’t send your passwords to strangers. You don’t know who I am,’” he said. 

Once it was obvious to the then-20-year-old Moore and his employers he was on the right track, he began working his way up the IT chain of command.

“My last two jobs were network administrator, then IT director, then CIO for an oil and gas company in Fort Worth,” he said. 

He then founded M3 Networks, with the oil and gas company as his first customer. 

Moore didn’t necessarily have the entrepreneurial spirit, but it was certainly in his blood. His grandfather, John Moore, founded the Texas Insurance Group, where his father worked, and his uncle also founded a company. 

“Seemingly everybody in my family has been in leadership positions or founding companies, so that came very natural to me,” he said. 

Also, Moore knew he wanted to not just help one company, but a “bunch of companies.” 

His model for the company wasn’t technology giants like Microsoft or Apple or Cisco. It was Nordstrom’s, the high-end retailer known for exemplary customer service. 

“I fell in love with a girl, my wife now, who at the time worked at Nordstrom, and their principles of, ‘Do whatever it takes. Go the extra mile. Even if customers return a tire, that’s fine, we’ll accept the tire. We’ll give them closure.’ All that kind of stuff,” he said. “That’s how we started.” 

In the beginning, Moore felt like they were a voice in the wilderness attempting to convince customers and companies that their computer networks were vulnerable. 

“This was the early 2000s and if you said, ‘You need to have multi factor authentication,’ and customers would say, ‘That is incredibly inconvenient. I’m not going to do any of this,’” he said. 

Now, as cybersecurity events make the news on a near-weekly basis and the Biden Administration  makes it a priority, that mindset has changed. 

“Now people are asking for more education, for new methods to secure information,” he said.

Cyberattacks accelerated during the pandemic, and the recent Russian invasion of Ukraine has only exacerbated the situation, Moore said. 

According to the Identity Theft Resource Center’s Q3 Data Breach Analysis, the number of publicly-reported data compromises through Sept. 30, 2021, exceeded the total number of events in 2020 by 17%. 

“Cybersecurity has become common language,” said Moore. “It’s just like watching the nightly weather report.” 

As a result, the demand for M3 Network’s services have gone up exponentially. 

But Moore knows that the company would not be able to respond to the new demand had he not started learning how to not just offer IT services, but to grow, run and manage a company and the people that work there. 

It took a while. Six years, in fact. 

At the beginning, he believed the way to run a business was to be great on the technical side. 

“Some facets of business, like marketing or sales and how to position a product offering such that it was easily digestible were beyond me,” he admits. 

For example, M3 Networks’ first business proposal to a client was 37 pages, he recalled. Now it is one page. 

“Those kinds of things took me a little time to digest, because I had built an IT career for over 10 years and I spoke like an IT person, and I walked and I talked like an IT person,” he said. 

So, over time, he became a sales person, a marketing person and finally, as a CEO of a company that employs about 20 people with a healthy growth rate. 

“My job now is setting the standard, setting the mission and vision, and teaching,” Moore said. “It’s not doing any tickets. It’s not doing any of the day-to-day marketing work and sales work. That’s completely evolved from where I was 10 years ago.” 

M3 Networks service and support manager Bob Shaw has been with the company for nine years and has seen the changes. 

“Michael has learned to work ‘on’ the company, not ‘in’ the company,” he said. “I think once that change was made and we got a few more people to do some of the work, it gave him the ability to focus on the whole company.” 

Along the way to being a leader at the company, Moore became an evangelist, preaching cybersecurity at Rotary meetings, chamber of commerce events and other organizations. It’s a more mature version of his 12-year-old self, teaching others how vulnerable they are in our interconnected world. 

“I love talking to folks about this in any manner,” he said. “It’s constant for me. It’s a passion.’ 

Moore does more than talk. 

He is a fan of the management and marketing book, Pink Goldfish, by David Rendall and Stan Phelps. The book’s premise is that the more people attempt to blend in with others, the less a person or a company stands out as a distinct and recallable brand. 

Michael D. Moore with Rotary Club of Fort Worth member Neva Williams. Courtesy photo.

A few months back Moore walked into the Rotary Club of Fort Worth to speak with blue hair and a sport coat over a blue shirt with yellow ducks, standing out in the business-attired crowd. His message was that businesses and individuals were dead ducks if we didn’t take cybersecurity seriously.

Moore was sporting pink hair when he spoke to the Hurst-Euless-Bedford Chamber of Commerce in 2021. There he met Steve Farco, president of Mason-Dallas Inc., a company that specializes in noise suppression in buildings. 

“Even though he had pink hair, I could tell he knew what he was talking about,” Farco said. 

Farco also knew his company needed to beef up its cybersecurity efforts and worked with M3 Networks. 

“The program they came up with was great,” he said. “It wasn’t too much for us to implement and it has helped us to avoid some problems down the line.” 

Moore doesn’t usually charge for his speeches, particularly at chambers of commerce or Rotary Clubs, but if he does, he gives half of his fee to various nonprofits, either Mission Central or, more recently, to causes related to the conflict in Ukraine.

Moore is also co-author with some other cybersecurity experts on a soon-to-be published book, Cyber Storm. Royalties from the book will go to the St. Jude Children’s Hospital.

That commitment to give back to those less fortunate comes from his heart. As he was growing up, Moore said he lived relatively trouble-free “in a white picket fence world. 

That changed when he was 12. 

Moore and eight members of his family were involved in a serious traffic accident. Their RV was hit by an 18-wheeler. Moore was thrown 33-feet with a metal rod stuck in his head. His grandfather barely survived, spending the rest of his life in a chair, but as Moore says, “never complained.” 

His grandfather, Jim Creecy, “was a real example of what it means to be a man and a leader of a family, even in being fully debilitated,” Moore said. 

For Moore, it was difficult and he suffered from depression and had multiple suicide attempts. It was a national tragedy that sent him on the road to recovery. 

“I was hospitalized for depression during the Branch Davidian crisis. And I remember that was a real clear moment for me, looking at the TV, going, ‘Those people are crazy. They’re burning down a building. I’m not.’”

It took Moore some time to fully understand that lesson. 

“Whatever life gives you, you’ve got to pick yourself up by your boots,” he said “You have a grandfather who’s been physically debilitated, who still has the ability to say, ‘God won’t give me anything I can’t handle,.” 

Moore has developed a few components that are key to the culture of M3 Networks. 

“I’m a big proponent of learning,” he said. “I’m voraciously reading every day, and highlighting everything I read and bringing that into the culture of the company.”

Along with developing his own leadership skills, Moore also is committed to helping develop other leaders at the company. Anyone at the company can sign up to lead the one all-hands-on-deck weekly meeting, for instance. 

“As long as you’ve been at the company for six months, you can be the facilitator of that meeting,” he said. “You’re the CEO of the entire company for that particular meeting.” 

It leads to more accountability among the employees and helps them think outside their own role, Moore said. 

“That distributes the leadership of the company down to anybody who wants to step up and lead these basic things,” he said. 

Moore knows the journey to becoming a leader takes time. 

“I was fortunate enough to be able to learn to become a CEO,” he said. “Not everyone has that opportunity.”

Michael D. Moore 

Birthplace

Bedford

Family

Always lived in Northeast Tarrant County. Was raised in Hurst, then moved to Bedford, and graduated from Trinity High School in 1997. Brother, Matt, serves as a police officer in Keller. Married to Stephanie. Two children – a son, Henry and a daughter, Clara.

Education 

In and out of college until he realized my computer hacking skills could provide a promising career. Earned associate degree at Tarrant County College in IT and then advanced to earn several IT certifications from Cisco and Microsoft and transitioned into the IT field fulltime in 2001. Recently made a contribution earmarked for a student studying IT/Cybersecurity at TCC.

Work Experience

Began IT career as a help desk engineer and then advanced to field engineer, network administrator, and IT director for two local companies. Recognized two major shortcomings with IT: these engineers were often treated as a commodity and suffered high rates of burnout and turnover. In 2003, scraped together the money to launch M3 Networks with a commitment to offer exceptional benefits, reasonable hours, and respect for exceptional engineers. Now leads a team of 15 that is celebrated both internally and by clients for its positive culture and resourcefulness.

Volunteer Experience

Serve on the boards of Mission Central and of the Fort Worth Christian Prayer

Breakfast, and vice president of the Trophy Club Golf Booster Club. Coached a full range of youth sports for son and daughter, from baseball and softball to golf and soccer. An active volunteer at White’s Chapel United Methodist Church, and recently returned from a church mission trip over spring break.

First Job

Bagging groceries at Kroger, where Moore learned the value of a genuine smile and positive attitude, particularly with customers and fellow team members may not be experiencing their best day.

Advice for someone learning to be a leader

Be patient.

Best advice you ever received

“This, too, shall pass” – from his grandfather, John Moore.

Bob Francis is business editor for the Fort Worth Report. Contact him at bob.francis@fortworthreport.org. At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here.

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Bob Francis

Bob Francis is business editor for fortworthreport.org. He has been covering business news locally and nationally for many years. He can be reached at bob.francis@fortworthreport.org

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