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.
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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Just Dont Call Them
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Many companies are facing incredible challenges here. We clearly see a roadmap to build that product line out and ultimately keep extending it with additional offerings. Its a nascent, growing, massive market.
So, you cringed when I called you an anti-virus vendor. Whats up with that?
You look at what were doing, were far from being an anti-virus-only company. Weve expanded so far beyond that. Were doing data loss protection, Web site security management, [giving service on the consumer side], and then the whole global marketplace is another interesting conversation. If you look at all the components around that, AV is just a sliver, but its a piece we have to do a better job talking to.
[Weve got to strengthen our] marketing and our strategic alliance plan. In the last 24 hours, I had a dozen different alliance opportunities presented to me, with companies who want a better go to market model. Theres a lot of opportunity for our company to leverage that. One is EMC, and then there are opportunities in storage, servers, virtualization, mobile technologies—they all create an opportunity for a pure-play security vendor to focus on, where everybody else has natural enemies in their sector.
The company I was just at, [EMC], one thing they did was security. Symantec, one thing they do is security. [Ditto for Microsoft and many other companies.] Its hard to do a lot of things and security just be one of them. Its challenging to have a security division as one of many, many products. Were focused on one thing, security.
What are you going to work on first?
Theres a lot of internal operational things I have to go do. Such as making a world class showcase for the world to know that McAfee has arrived at a much better place than what its gone through.
[Theres a] handful of other things. Part of it will involve discussions were having right now. Its a learning process for me. I need a 360-degree view of the company. Part is interviewing customers and partners, getting perspective for what are influencers on the company.
We also need a more aggressive marketing strategy. I see all these assets, and I see this incredible franchise and the incredible opportunity here, but we need to do a better job as a company [to exploit those opportunities].
You mentioned that the global marketplace is a whole conversation unto itself. Whats up there?
Were a pretty global company to start, which is a good place to be when you enter the picture. You see emerging markets and you see incredible opportunities. Theres double, triple growth opportunities in Brazil [and other emerging markets]. McAfee has a low percentage of revenue as it relates to emerging market opportunities. Theres lots of room for growth.
I dont have to go out and buy companies in another language. Or to [do anything special to] go to market in Russia in Cyrillic. These products are built that way already.
India is a whole conversation, and Chinas a whole conversation. The system integrators in India, and those that are America-based, theres hardly one out there that doesnt see security as a driver for their consulting practices.
If youre TAT or Infosys, do you choose between partnering with IBM and competing with them on their security services, or with Microsoft? Or do you choose to partner with McAfee? I need to go after that and [have McAfee] be seen as a great partnering company for those [players].
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