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John McAfee: The Non-Story of the Year

John McAfee brought much unwanted attention to the security company that bears his name.

John McAfee brought much unwanted attention to the security company that bears his name.

Eugene Kaspersky, the boisterous founder and CEO of antivirus company Kaspersky Lab ZAO, once quipped the difference between he and rival Symantec Corp. is he owns and is intimately involved in his company. “There is no Mr. Symantec, but there is a Mr. Kaspersky,” he said.

Unfortunately for McAfee Inc., the security software unit now owned by Intel Corp., there is a Mr. McAfee — and he has been nothing short of an embarrassment this year. If there were an award for “Overblown Story of the Year,” it would go to this tech dropout and the media outlets giving his travails ink.

In September, John McAfee sprung onto the global stage when authorities in Belize sought to question him in the murder of his neighbor. Rather than submitting to government questioning, he fled. He made it to Guatemala, where he reportedly had a heart attack after being taken into custody for entering the country illegally. He was deported and is in Miami.

Unlike other fugitives, John McAfee hasn’t shrunk from public attention. He started a blog to vent allegations about the Belize government having a vendetta against him and proclaimed his innocence. Now, he’s expressing a desire to move to the United Kingdom to restart his life with his two young girlfriends.

Through the John McAfee melodrama, McAfee –t he company — has been mute on the topic. Insiders say executives and employees are under strict orders to avoid discussions and make no official comment. And they have good reason: John McAfee has no association with the company.

John McAfee sold the company that bears his name in 1994, long before the Internet explosion, the antivirus wars with Symantec Corp., the branching into related technologies, the formation of Network Associates, or the acquisition by Intel. In fact, McAfee the company bears little resemblance to the business John McAfee sold nearly 20 years ago.

Yet, with every twist in this four-month tale of John McAfee, the company has been dragged into the conversation. McAfee has not been a software entrepreneur in some time; he spent most of his $100 million fortune and has little but the clothes on his back. Yet, the media insists on painting John McAfee as an integral part of the McAfee brand and technology. McAfee’s current co-presidents Mike DeCesare and Todd Gebhart told CNN they’ve been monitoring the situation and acknowledge it hasn’t been good for the company.

“Look, we’re not happy it’s going on,” DeCesare told CNN. “We are happy that it seems to be coming to an end.”

And end is where this story should be. John McAfee is a man living on the fringe of a self-constructed exile that’s real because of his own actions. It has all the trappings of a sensational story — murder allegations, a defiant suspect with a famous name living an alternative lifestyle and, of course, a willing press corps chasing every meaningless detail. Meanwhile, nary a word has been written about George Faull, John McAfee’s neighbor who lost his life in a senseless act of violence.

If there is a candidate for the most overblown, non-story of the year, John McAfee’s faux plight is the clear choice.

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4 Responses to “John McAfee: The Non-Story of the Year”

  • craig kensek:

    The tone of some of these comments makes me wonder if the individuals have any association with Intel/McAfee or PR firms doing business with them. It’s been a more interesting story than reading about some company releasing version xx.yyy of their product or stories where companies ask some innocuous questions they probably know the answers to demonstrate “thought leadership” and issue a press release about their survey.

  • Deborah Dodd:

    Are you re-writing this “non-story” as fiction or what? Considering the mis-information in your article you write without facts or knowledge:
    The murder was in November, not September.
    The murder victim was Gregory V. Faull.
    There are news articles about the deceased if you care to read them. Try Google.
    Sheesh, I am glad you are not a real news reporter.

  • aaron kennedy:

    “” If there were an award for “Overblown Story of the Year,” it would go to this tech dropout and the media outlets giving his travails ink.”"

    –Then You go about writing about it…

    Just to clear some of the mud this story stirs up:

    McAfee is thinking of UK because the USA will not extend visas to Samantha Venegas and Amy Emshwiller.

    The name of the Murdered man on Ambergris Caye is Gregory Faull. Not George Faull. Did the writer do any real research into the story before writing it..?

    The Govt of Belize is well known to commit murders such as this one, as well as poison Dogs routinely, which is what supposedly precipitated the Fabricated Murder story to implicate McAfee.

    The Murder rate in Belize is staggering. DO THE RESEARCH. Could have been anyone who killed Mr. Faull.

  • craig kensek:

    Before clamping down, there was statement on McAfee’s fb fan pages that John McAfee hasn’t been part of the company for years. The stories ex employees have about the culture during the John McAfee era are pretty much a soap opera.

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