Kaspersky Lab CEO Eugene Kaspersky Tuesday ridiculed antivirus competitor McAfee as a less formidable and focused competitor now that it's part of chip giant Intel.
What's more, the Kaspersky CEO said that Intel has failed to deliver on its once highly touted plan to drive security breakthroughs by tightly integrating security software with Intel chips.
"They promised to kill the IT security market with a new hardware-based platform," said Kaspersky in a luncheon meeting with reporters in Boston. "I don't believe in that. It is like a Hollywood story."
"Recently they announced their new product after the acquisition working with hardware people, and they made a hardware-based solution," scoffed Kaspersky, referring to the September unveiling of the McAfee Anti-Theft software offering for Ultrabooks that ties in with Intel hardware. He labeled the $7.6 billion price tag Intel paid for McAfee a "joke." "It is [anti-theft protection] for $7 billion!"
Kaspersky said Intel CEO Paul Otellini and the Intel board had no idea what they were in for when the company announced it was acquiring McAfee on August 19, 2010. "When the Intel [CEO] said, 'Go to the shop and buy McAfee,' he didn't keep in mind the board of the company."
Kaspersky conceded that Intel could bring some new "ideas" to hardware-based security with embedded systems that would be in addition to antivirus software.
A representative from McAfee reached by CRN would not comment.
Kaspersky said McAfee is a less "focused" organization and lacks competitive "spirit" in the wake of the $7.6 billion acquisition by chip giant Intel in 2010. He maintains that McAfee has suffered from "inertia" in the wake of the Intel acquisition. "The magic fire [inside McAfee] was taken off," he said.
"IT security, especially end point security, is like a football [team]," said Kaspersky. "You have to be focused on that and only that. If your team is just a little team inside of a much larger organization, the bosses they are not interested in what is going on there [in the security business]. They have different businesses. That is why I never believed in Microsoft antivirus. And I don't believe in Intel antivirus."
The McAfee criticism comes with McAfee Tuesday appointing a new executive vice president of sales, Steve Redman, in the wake of the departure of Executive Vice President of Global Sales Joe Sexton, a five-year McAfee veteran who "chose to depart to take a leadership role in a non-competing technology company," according to McAfee.
Kaspersky did not comment on the recent news that McAfee founder John McAfee is allegedly a suspect in a murder investigation in Belize, except to stress that John McAfee has not been involved with the company for many years.
McAfee Senior Vice President of Worldwide Channel Operations Gavin Struthers told CRN in October that the joint efforts of Intel-McAfee has fueled innovation at the security division.
But Kaspersky said that the bigger dollars that Intel may be investing in McAfee is not translating into competitive advantage in the sales trenches. "It does not matter how much you invest [given the increased investment resource of Intel] there," he said. "It is like a football [team]. It does not depend on the budget. The champion is the team who plays better."
Ken Presti contributed to this story.
PUBLISHED NOV. 13, 2012