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McAfee is Back, Spun Off from Intel

Intel Security has been spun off as a standalone company, and will now be known by its previous moniker: McAfee.

Intel acquired McAfee almost six years ago, making it a wholly owned subsidiary before integrating it fully within the chipmaker’s operations. Now, the division will once again be under its own steam, with Intel retaining a 49% non-controlling investment stake. Private equity firm TPG has 51%, which includes a minority stake from Thoma Bravo, who has joined via an agreement with TPG.

The decision to spin out the division as a standalone company again stems from a desire to focus both funding targets and operational efforts.

“If you look at how the treat landscape has evolved, we felt it will be more effective to have a very focused strategy for cyber, operating independently,” explained Steve Grobman, CTO for the former Intel Security, in an interview. “Intel is primarily set up as a semiconductor company and a manufacturer, with very fixed cadences. Cyber is about having high levels of agility, and being able to build technology even as the attack community comes out with new threats and techniques.”

Intel Security already refocused its efforts about 18 months ago, when it moved from a broad portfolio strategy to being more targeted specifically on threat defense. So as McAfee, no immediate changes are planned for the product lines, customer focus, partners or overall strategy, according to Grobman. However, McAfee will accelerate its efforts to being prepared for the next generation of cyber-threats.

“A big part of the strategy is managing and orchestrating our development efforts to create the best defensive technology that we can, with an eye to the future,” Grobman said. “We need to defend customers from what they’re seeing today and from the attack vectors of tomorrow. The new structure will give us the opportunity to accelerate efforts to have our products work together more seamlessly.”

He also said that the standalone status and private equity funding will give McAfee an opportunity to “have a more balanced approach to organic and inorganic tech development,” as opposed to solely building products internally.

“With an independent structure, we can look at opportunities to accelerate the business by acquisitions,” he said.

As for rebranding as McAfee, he added, “We’ve done a lot of analysis on the impact of the McAfee brand name and it’s recognized as a strong cyber-brand. The rationale for returning to the McAfee name is to take advantage of good brand strength. And, the products never were un-branded, so little will change there.”  

Intel SVP and GM Chris Young will lead the new McAfee as CEO. TPG Partner Bryan Taylor has been named chairman of the Board.

“Cybersecurity is the greatest challenge of the connected age, weighing heavily on the minds of parents, executives and world leaders alike,” said Young. “As a standalone company with a clear purpose, McAfee gains the agility to unite people, technology and organizations against our common adversaries and ensure our technology-driven future is safe.”

Brian Krzanich, Intel CEO, added, “Security remains important to Intel, and in addition to our equity position and ongoing collaboration with McAfee, Intel will continue to integrate industry-leading security and privacy capabilities in our products from the cloud to billions of smart, connected computing devices.”

McAfee has more than 7,500 employees and holds more than 1,200 security technology patents. It is also home to McAfee Labs.

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