Who knew?… Anti-virus company founders are the new rock n’ rollers

I have never had any interest in any anti-virus software. I don’t know anything about it, I just want it to work, rather like seeing an oestepath when I’m in pain, I only think about it when something goes wrong.

How wrong I was. The past two weeks have seen John McAfee, the eponymous founder of the McAfee anti-virus software company go all Colonel Kurtz, not down the horror of the Congo river or deepest Vietnam, but on a small island off the coast of Central American republic Belize.

McAfee had a problem with his neighbour, not about the height of the leylandii, but the antics of some dogs. When that neighbour was found dead with a bullet in the back of his head and the rozzers came to arrest him, McAfee escaped by burying himself in the sand and breathing through a strategically placed cardboard box.

While this writer believes that such innovation should prevent *anybody* from ever being found guilty, this sounds like the rebirth of Hunter S Thompson. The previous arrest of McAfee for unlicensed firearms and owning a crystal meth factory, as well as being caught in the sack with a 17-year-old only adds to his mythology.

And it appears McAfee is not the only anti-virus software founder who is glamorous and rock n’ roll. Earlier this week I flown to New York as a guest of Eugene Kaspersky of Kaspersky Labs, a man who is considerably saner, though no less interesting, than our Belizean friend.

The man is apparently a legend. He was previously an intelligence officer in the Soviet Army whose self-confessed ‘hobby’ of protecting his computer has led to a $600 million annual revenue business with an office just six miles from the Kremlin.

He also sponsors Ferrari and the Formula 1 driver Fernando Alonso and taking to the stage with Alonso at the New York press conference resplendent in a Ferrari red sweater, it was hard to tell who thought they were more famous.

I’ve never liked Alonso (he says the same about me – haha) but anybody who can smile while his patron compares the safety of a racing car with the security of a computer probably deservers to win the World Championship.

Notwithstanding Kaspersky’s ability to strangle the word ‘and’… and sound like Sean Connery whenever he did so, I was genuinely impressed by his confidence and obvious knowledge of his subject.

Anybody who can talk about the UK’s Great Train Robbery, malware that destroyed Iran’s nuclear capability and the plane waiting to take him to his next destination of Morocco can invite me back any time.

Unfortuantely, due to REAL work commitments I wasn’t able to join the rest of the invited guests at New York’s Classic Car Club and go for a personal test-drive in the provided Ferraris, Lamborghinis and Aston Martins, but Kaspersky knows how to put on a good show.

While it is unlikely that Kaspersky will be buying up abandoned property in Belize any time soon and I can’t imagine him buried in sand with a cardboard box over his head, he seems like a very interesting man… and a guy I wouldn’t mind going to a few bars with; it could be a right laugh.

Monty (663 Posts)

Monty Munford has more than 15 years' experience in mobile, digital media, web and journalism. He is the founder of Mob76, a company that helps tech companies raise money and exit. He speaks regularly at global media events with a focus on Africa, writes a weekly column for The Telegraph, is a regular contributor to The Economist, Wired, Mashable and speaks regularly on the BBC World Service.