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McAfee Finalizes Spinout, Stresses Platform Strategy

By Lorna Garey
April 04, 2017 - Article

Lorna GareyToday McAfee officially becomes an independent private company valued at approximately $4.2 billion, culminating a divestiture process that began in September. Technology investment firm TPG will own 51 percent, while Intel retains a 49 percent stake. Chris Young stays on as CEO, with VP of global channel operations Richard Steranka keeping the reins of the partner organization.

Young promised a prompt rebrand at the November Focus conference, and the company has met its self-imposed April goal.

Intel acquired McAfee in 2010 for $7.68 billion in a bid to beef up its software and services while baking security into its silicon. McAfee now has about 10,000 channel and 125 Security Innovation Alliance technology partners and does business with 90 percent of the Fortune 100 and 62 percent of the global 2000. Steranka, who previously laid out the company’s portfolio and channel-program strategy in depth, told Channel Partners that the spinout has funded long-awaited investments that will benefit partners.

McAfee's Richard Steranka“There's this opportunity to address one of the areas that we've been in constant dialogue with our partners on, and that's ease of doing business," said Steranka. “How could we streamline the way that our partners work with us, order from us, quote, configure?" He says his team is well aware that Intel’s business model – providing silicon to OEMs and then influencing through resellers – is substantially different from selling software through the channel.

“With the opportunity and the necessity to stand up our own infrastructure and back office, we can now design it and have it purpose-built for our partner community as opposed to trying to do workarounds," he said. Specifically, Steranka promises that configurators and tools for simplifying the ordering and closing process will launch over the next 12-18 months, joining the existing Salesforce instance that allows partners and inside sales to work collaboratively on opportunities.

Then, there’s the promotional spend.

“The brand is going to be the big change, and it's going to come in unison with a relaunch of our marketing, obviously focused on the platform and the architectural strategy that we rolled out at Focus," said Steranka, adding that there will be significant co-marketing opportunities.

“The brand changes, I think that's something the partners look forward to," he said. “In fact, I kind of joke most never stopped calling us McAfee in the first place."

That may be so, but tech watchers realize that the McAfee name cuts both ways. Eric Parizo, senior analyst focusing on enterprise security with GlobalData, even argued that the brand has outlived its usefulness and should be abandoned.

“To the general public, the McAfee brand has long been associated with legacy antivirus technology that is perceived to be ineffective, as well as with founder John McAfee and his police encounters, YouTube videos or presidential aspirations — even though he is no longer associated with the business," Parizo says.

Still, he understands the rationale behind the decision to ...

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