Find Out What Virtru Co-founder John Ackerly Wants in His Office Design

Virtru Co-founder John Ackerly Talks About Office Design
John Ackerly, Virtru Co-Founder & CEO

Virtru Co-founder and CEO John Ackerly sat down with Wingate Hughes to talk about his journey from a small apartment office to the newly designed Downtown DC Virtru headquarters. Virtru addresses the pressing needs of digital trust and has exploded in popularity over the past five years. They put privacy first and make digital environments secure by default.

John also shares how the Virtru mission shows in the design concept, how art plays an important role in his life and in the office, and what’s next for his DC tech encryption firm. Take a look inside Virtru and see how his company ethos of transparency and privacy show in the design.

Virtru was in a small apartment in Adams Morgan prior to your current space. How does it feel to have a more traditional office now?
As the team grows, our office has grown with it. Our first office was a small apartment storefront that is now home to a nail salon. However, our new office still isn’t very traditional thanks to our partnership with Wingate Hughes. We were able to maintain the collaborative feel we like in a larger space while having more productive space.

Virtru Co-founder John Ackerly Talks About Office Design
Two-tone reSAWN Timber planked wall creates a subtle v-pattern backdrop for the branded signage in reception. Wall features Kamasu – Accoya and Nigiri – Accoya from the Charred Collection. Signage is by Worthworks.

Was growth the main reason you moved into a new office? 
Growth was the driving factor for the move but open space for collaboration across our business units was the objective.

We designed the speculative suite that is now Virtru. Why did you decide to hire Wingate Hughes as your architect to personalize the office?
Wingate Hughes came highly recommended from a friend, and it was serendipitous that you did the first buildout. We stuck with Wingate Hughes because of your ability to design an office that reflects the Virtru mission of humanizing security and privacy. We are as much a design company as we are a tech company. Design is a critical focus in all our products, and the design of our space reflects that.

Virtru Co-founder John Ackerly Talks About Office Design
The vinyl Crypotwall covering mirrors Virtru email encryption code. A similar vinyl sticker application process works on glass to keep the code wall continuous. Worthworks brought our vector graphics to life on the walls and glass.

What was important to you during the design process, and what was your favorite part of the design process?
For me, collaboration with other Virtru execs to ensure we had a balance of open space, conference space, and collaborative space to fit the needs of the various business units was paramount. Once the major decisions were made, our favorite part was bringing the Virtru mission into the design. The cryptowall up front and the kitchen cafe were fun to design.

How does your office help you drive your business forward?
Employees love to come into the office — we’re in a great neighborhood and a great space. This boosts retention, recruiting, and employee morale. The office also has a wow factor for visitors who could become customers or partners.

Virtru Co-founder John Ackerly Talks About Office Design
The crossed four- and eight-foot LED pendant light fixtures complement the feature wall pattern. The conference room, directly left of reception, offers partial transparency with the fully opaque center.

How does the office reflect your company culture?
Virtru is mission focused and our office reflects that. TDF (Trusted Data Format) is front and center along with collaboration among business units and departments. Product design is a crucial part of our mission, so a well-designed office reflects that mission priority for us. Ultimately, Virtru works hard to humanize security and privacy, but employee morale is a key piece, so the office also reflects the fun aspect of our company mission.

Your company values the protection and privacy of data. How do your products and philosophies on data privacy play into your office design and how your employees work in the space?
Virtru is a response and answer to encryption and security products that failed. Our emphasis on world-class design in products, ease of use, and humanization of technology are reflected in our space from the layout to the meeting spaces, to the art.

Virtru Co-founder John Ackerly Talks About Office Design
The Framery 2Q booths fit four to six people to co-create, brainstorm and have meetings. The sound insulation system ensures that phone calls and meetings won’t disturb the office, or the office noise won’t disturb those in the booth. We worked with MOI to choose finish options for the booths.

What’s your favorite part of the office?
The Framery 2Q booths.

Virtru Co-founder John Ackerly Talks About Office Design
The operable glass partition creates privacy if another conference space is needed.

What’s your employees’ favorite part?
Employees love the kitchen cafe. The cafe reflects the human factor that drives Virtru’s mission — it boosts morale and makes the office a more welcoming space. They also like the hidden office break room that has an old coffee machine and a water cooler. Here, the employees enjoy the open space conducive to running into new colleagues and chatting while enjoying snacks and drinks. They love the coffee and espresso machines, the kegerator, and the La Croix selection too.

Virtru Co-founder John Ackerly Talks About Office Design
The cryptowall graphic concept greets guests on entry. The frosted glass application doubles as a unique design feature and as a symbolic Virtru mission element — privacy.

Tell me about your art collection and how it adds to the design.
My art collection, especially the Trevor Paglen pieces, are hung throughout the office. Trevor’s work tackles mass surveillance and data collection with geographic themes. He creates beautiful, beautiful pieces with underlying depth — a reflection of Virtru’s world-class design experience matched with encryption and privacy.

Talk about the future of Virtru.
This year, we doubled revenue and secured a $40M million Series B led by ICONIQ Strategic Partners. Virtru is advancing in design and pairing that with data protection in more mediums, in more countries, and increasing our customer base and partner engagement. The data privacy space is no longer limited to large companies or corporations for their data. Public interest has grown, and with it, legislative developments have emerged that advance Virtru’s mission to simplify and humanize data security and privacy.

Thank you to all who made the Virtru office a reality!

Colliers International

Alex Duckworth, Associate Director, Corporate Solutions

Connor Faught, Senior Vice President, Account Management

Cushman & Wakefield

Brad Mellor, Vice President

HBW Construction

Pat Foley, Vice President, Principal

Nicholas Tubolino, Project Executive


Stacey Mohammed, Senior Consultant
Julie Novak, Senior Sales Development Specialist
Colleen Snyder, Project Manager
Jessica Barnes, Associate Designer


To learn more about the Virtru office design, email