Chuck Norris once said "There are few problems in this world that cannot be solved by a swift roundhouse kick to the face. In fact, there are none." He was referring to the sudden and devastating martial arts technique that when successfully executed can knock out the most worthy opponent.
Grandmaster John McAfee - the legendary founder of his namesake anti-virus company McAfee Associates and one of the world's foremost cyber practitioners - would like to throw a roundhouse kick at these foreign hackers. Better yet, he's teaching some budding cyberpreneurs how to kick.
McAfee located his personal privacy and security company - Future Tense Central - at the "Round House", a startup space for software developers, web designers, and digital creative types. But once word got out that McAfee could be found there - it started to draw young (as in startup) cyber-fighters who yearn for the chance to learn from an expert.
Like some of the top martial arts training camps, Round House is located off the beaten path - in Olepeika, Ala. We'll be making a pilgrimage to meet up with McAfee and some Future Tense Central staffers, and to see what's going on down there.
Round House touts ultra high speed Internet connectivity and calls itself Alabama's fastest startup space. Perhaps that's what attracted McAfee in the first place.
Rewind to McAfee's first venture...
In 1987, John McAfee started up McAfee Associates, a quintessential Silicon Valley success story. The business started out as a side venture while McAfee was working full-time as a programmer at Lockheed Martin. He bootstrapped the operation and did practically everything by himself, most notably coding the first commercial anti-virus program.
By 1990 the company’s sales exceeded $1.5 million with a whopping $1 million in profit, and McAfee quit his day job to work full-time at McAfee Associates. In 1991, sales climbed to nearly $7 million. By 1992 McAfee had 10,000 paying licensees at corporations, federal government agencies, and Fortune 500 companies. The crowning moment for the fledgling tech company came in October 1992, when it went public on the NASDAQ exchange and raised $42 million in its initial public stock offering.
McAfee was much more than a startup entrepreneur. He created a business model that was a phenomenon in its time… a purely electronic software distribution operation generating tens-of-millions of dollars in revenues with with just 36 employees working out of a small 6,400 square office space in Santa Clara, Calif.
The takeaway on all that - McAfee built a wildly successful business around the fastest Internet connectivity available to him in the late 1980s and early 1990s. It's nearly 30 years later now - and he's trying it again.
Aspiring cybersecurity startups may have solid technology, but to throw the knock-out kick they need to learn how to build a successful business. Setting up shop at the Round House or joining one of the meetings when McAfee is in town is a chance to learn from a master. Learning from his disciples at Future Tense Central is the next best thing.
Inquiring minds may be asking if Round House will become a dojo for cybersecurity firms. We'll be back from east Alabama with a story on that in the next month or two.