New McAfee Head: We Aint Just AV

Q&A: New CEO Dave DeWalt says fraud charges and fines are behind McAfee and that he will do a better job of alerting the world to the company's product diversity.

Dave DeWalt doesnt want to talk about the SEC filing securities fraud charges against his new employer, McAfee, nor the $50 million fine that resulted, and definitely not about the handful of interim CEOs whove held the position before him in the tumultuous 14 months since then.

"Most of it is old news, to me," he said in an interview with eWEEK shortly after McAfee announced that he will take the reins as CEO, president and member of the board starting April 2.

What concerns him more right now is the fact that a reporter has opened the interview by referring to McAfee as an anti-virus software company. He cringes at the casual reference, he said, because McAfee is "far from being an AV-only company."

Getting McAfees product diversity better known is at the top of his priority list come April. Other things on his to-do list as he takes over as CEO of, well, one of the biggest anti-virus vendors out there include global spread, getting into partners faces first when it comes to alliances, and more. He chatted recently with eWEEK Senior Security Editor Lisa Vaas, and heres what he had to say.

Post-securities fraud scandal, how is the company managing to pick up the pieces?

Primarily, McAfee has such a tremendous set of assets. You look at a company thats pure-play security … with 1 million plus corporate users … and you start looking at these assets and you say, Hmm, what can you do with these assets?

Ive seen a lot from the EMC angle and from 20 years in technology. [Ed. Note: DeWalt served most recently as executive vice president and president of Customer Operations for EMC.] Ive seen a lot of market consolidation, a lot going on in the audit space, and security resource management expanding as a category. Theres a lot going on in tangential market segments that are close [to McAfees core business].

Being the only large pure-play [security company] doing this, you look at this and say, OK, on one side of the ledger, were strong with assets. On the other side, what challenges does the company has? Most of [the SEC news] is old news, to me. Ive had a chance to inspect the company. We have a world-class company here. [Weve got] Eric Brown on finance, and hes such a stud, such a star. And ultimately McAfee is world class for compliance auditing [solutions].

It will take us up to [the better] part of a year to get the restatements done, and we expect the press will be negative for some of the time, but at the end of the day, the company will be stronger as a result of being under fire.

You mentioned consolidation in the sector. McAfee acquired Onigma in October and announced it was launching an initiative to help companies centralize management of security applications. Anything you can tell us about further acquisition strategy going forward?

The company strategy includes acquisition as part of the corporate model. Well continue to do that, particularly in the security marketplace.

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Weve got a good franchise here in terms of products already. But acquisition gives you a chance to serve [customers].

I was the CEO of Documentum, in the content management space. [Ed. Note: Subsequently acquired by EMC.] Its somewhat parallel to the [data loss protection space, which McAfee entered with the Onigma buy], with things like digital loss management and governing content that leaves the premises, which is a challenge for every company. Particularly those doing offshore development, with their intellectual property being exposed at incredible rates.

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