Peter Leav to take over for Chris Young as security vendor considers future options
Cybersecurity vendor McAfee is bringing in a new CEO as company leaders continue to mull its future, which could include a sale or going public.
The Lowdown: McAfee, which in 2017 spun out of giant chip maker Intel, this week announced that former BMC Software and Polycom CEO Peter Leav next month will take over for Chris Young, who has led the business since 2014.
The Details: Leav comes to McAfee with a reputation for making companies more efficient. He took over collaboration and video conferencing vendor Polycom in 2013 as CEO and president and streamlined operations before in the years leading up to its acquisition by private equity firm Siris Capital in 2016. He then left to become president and CEO of BMC for just over two years, leaving in April 2019.
He will take over as McAfee’s CEO Feb. 3, taking over for Young, who will remain with McAfee in an advisory role during the transition. He also will become a senior advisor at TPG Capital, which along with fellow private equity firm Thoma Bravo and Intel owns the security company.
Rumors about the company’s future have been swirling for almost a year. There were reports last year that executives were considering a plan to take the company public via an IPO that could net it as much as $8 billion. At the same time, recent reports have said that TPG is looking to sell its stake in McAfee, with one possibility being merging its consumer business with rival NortonLifeLock and selling the enterprise business to another buyer.
The Impact: Investors last year began pulling back from tech IPOs, which is a key reason why ownership is considering other options, according to a report last month in the Wall Street Journal. Bringing in Leav may be a way to get McAfee in shape for a sale. The company in recent years has become more aggressive in its cloud security and endpoint detection and response (EDR) capabilities, which has helped it grow revenue in the mid-single digits and profits in the double digits, according to officials.
Background: Intel bought McAfee in 2010 for $7.6 billion with plans to build more security into its silicon products, but the chip maker spun the company out seven years later.
Along with CEO stints at Polycom (which was bought in 2018 for $2 billion by Plantronics, which is now Poly) and BMC, Leav also has been in executive roles at such companies as NCR, Motorola, and Cisco.
The Buzz: “I am delighted to be joining McAfee at this exciting time for the company and am looking forward to working with the team to pursue the significant growth opportunities ahead,” Leav said. “McAfee is one of the largest, most important cybersecurity brands in the world, with a commitment to innovation and excellence. By maintaining the forward-thinking, customer-centric approach that has come to define McAfee, I am confident that we will continue to play a very meaningful role in protecting individuals, businesses and communities from the rapidly changing cyber threat landscape.”
“Peter has exactly the right mix of experience and expertise to lead McAfee in its next phase of growth,” said Jon Winkelried, co-CEO of TPG and chairman of McAfee. “Building on the significant progress McAfee has made over the last three years, Leav’s experience successfully scaling enterprise technology businesses, along with his strong innovation track record, will help push McAfee further in its mission to create a safer, more secure cybersphere.”
“We’re proud of the progress McAfee has made since becoming a standalone company, and we thank Chris for his pivotal role through the first phase of McAfee’s evolution,” said Tim Millikin, a partner at TPG Capital and McAfee board member. “With a universally respected brand, an expanded enterprise product portfolio, successful strategic entries into cloud and mobile security, and a strong leadership team, McAfee is well-positioned for continued growth under Peter’s leadership.”
“It has been a privilege to work with the McAfee team, and I am very proud of the results we have delivered for our customers, partners, employees and investors,” Young said. “I look forward to continued involvement with McAfee in an advisory capacity through TPG Capital, and I am confident in the company’s future.”