Symantec Set to Acquire Blue Coat for $4.65 Billion

Blue Coat's CEO will become leader of the combined company, which aims to enable end- to-end security to and from the cloud.

security acquisition

Symantec is taking a major step forward with its agreement to acquire privately held security vendor Blue Coat for $4.65 billion in cash. The deal, announced June 13, is expected to close in the third quarter, at which time Greg Clark, current CEO of Blue Coat, will become the CEO of Symantec.

The deal comes a year after major milestones for both Symantec and Blue Coat, as both companies have undergone transitions. The $4.65 billion acquisition figure represents a significant return on investment for Bain Capital, which acquired Blue Coat for $2.4 billion in March 2015 from Thoma Bravo, which had bought Blue Coat in 2011 for $1.3 billion.

For its part, Symantec divested its Veritas storage division in 2015, as part of a plan to focus exclusively on security, which is where the Blue Coat deal fits in.

In a conference call with analysts, Symantec executives detailed why the deal makes sense for both companies. Ajei Gopal, interim president and chief operating officer at Symantec, said the Blue Coat product portfolio complements Symantec's lineup and will create a more comprehensive offering for customers.

"Our solutions dovetail perfectly with only a small overlap in our product portfolios," Gopal said. "Furthermore, there is huge leverage in our ability to share our core protection engines, and the vast amount of threat data we collect."

Symantec collects and analyzes security data from more than175 million endpoints that are protected by way of Symantec endpoint protection, Gopal said. Blue Coat, in contrast, analyzes data from more than 1.2 billion Web requests that are secured each day by way of its secure Web gateway.

Additionally, Blue Coat protects and monitors more than 12,000 cloud applications through its cloud access security broker (CASB) technology. Blue Coat's CASB technology came by way the $280 million acquisition of cloud security vendor Elastica for $280 million in November 2015.

According to Gopal, the data sets that Symantec and Blue Coat collect are different and complement each other. "Taken together, we will have unmatched visibility into and data about the global threat landscape," Gopal said. "We believe combining these two massive data sets enables Symantec to deliver unparalleled cyber-defense."

The overall goal of the acquisition is to bring together user authentication, cloud gateway, application discovery, data-loss prevention and cloud analytics technologies for a more comprehensive approach to modern security challenges, the companies said.

For Symantec Chairman Dan Schulman, the combination of the two companies is what he called a perfect fit of product capabilities that together provides an overall fabric for cyber-security protection. Schulman also noted that for the last several months, Symantec has been talking about what the company was looking for in a new CEO and they found it in Blue Coat's Greg Clark.

Back in the late 1980s, when he worked at Bell Labs with Unix software operations, he "was fascinated with security issues, and that passion is alive and well today," said Clark, who aims to bring that enthusiasm to the combined companies.

"Symantec has a phenomenal history of solving difficult problems in cyber-defense across consumer and enterprise, and combined with Blue Coat, we have the technical power and intellectual property to really change the industry," he said.

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at eWEEK and Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.

Sean Michael Kerner

Sean Michael Kerner

Sean Michael Kerner is an Internet consultant, strategist, and contributor to several leading IT business web sites.