Symantec To Acquire Brightmail For $370 Million

The deal, which is still subject to regulatory approval, was announced just one month after Brightmail stated intentions to file for an initial public offering.

It was unclear how the acquisition would impact solution providers in Brightmail's extensive channel program, but executives at Cupertino, Calif.-based Symantec said the 100 resellers currently selling Brightmail solutions would be "welcomed" into the Symantec channel, and that products from both vendors would soon be available to VARs on both sides.

The Brightmail Anti-Spam solution already integrates some of Symantec's antivirus technology. The acquisition will only improve the way the two technologies work together, eventually leading to a stronger integrated approach to security overall, according to Steve Cullen, senior vice president of security products and solutions at Symantec.

"With Brightmail in the fold %85 we're talking about a messaging gateway that would deliver integrated security solutions that nobody else delivers today," Cullen said during a conference call Wednesday evening. "What we're saying is that we're going to give our partners a much more valuable solution to take to market than they could have done previously. It will be a great calling card."

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Brightmail executives added that they were equally excited about the acquisition, and said during the conference call that they were looking forward to reaping the benefits of integrating their product with a larger distribution network and platform.

"This is one of the hottest markets around right now, and we saw that a combination of the two companies would create an unstoppable force in the marketplace," said Enrique Salem, president and CEO of Brightmail, San Francisco. "Marketing our products through Symantec VARs will be a home run [for everybody]."

Specifics on how Symantec would incorporate Brightmail solutions were sketchy, but executives from both firms noted that because the companies currently work together, they would be ready to take a combined product to market as soon as the deal closes. Salem estimated that the deal would most likely close before July 1.

In addition to Brightmail Anti-Virus, Symantec would acquire Brightmail Reputation Service, which blocks messages from identified spam sources, and Brightmail Anti-Fraud, which blocks fraudulent e-mails that mimic legitimate communications in order to steal financial and personal data.

"[Brightmail Anti-Fraud] fits with some of the systems that Symantec already has put in place," Salem said. "It is a good match, and the beauty is that we are already integrated."

While news of the planned acquisition came as a surprise to some, others said they saw it coming. Brightmail had written in its IPO registration statement that it would use the proceeds to strengthen and broaden its offerings, heightening speculation that there may be potential consolidation within the e-mail filtering industry.

Fred Felman, vice president of marketing at San Francisco-based Zone Labs, said the move solidifies messaging's position as one of the hottest security markets today, and predicted that both companies would benefit from joining forces.

"I think this is good for [both companies]," Felman said. "It's amazing that [Brightmail] went this route so close to going public, but with the two technologies as part of the same suite, [Symantec and Brightmail] should be able to protect everybody."

Still, others wondered how the acquisition would impact some of the technology partnerships Brightmail has carved out over the years. Currently, the firm provides its signature-based antispam filtering to vendors such as Microsoft, Sun Microsystems, Oracle and BorderWare. Neither Cullen nor Salem commented on this issue.

From the channel perspective, reaction to the move was generally positive. David Sockol, president and CEO of Emagined Security, San Carlos, Calif., said that once the companies combine forces, the resulting technologies would allow his firm to offer spam and fraud solutions that have not been fully incorporated into network systems on any level.

"The addition of Brightmail to Symantec's comprehensive product and service offerings will help control spam and fraud," he said. "This acquisition will allow Symantec's customers to gain control of a threat base that has been continually growing without necessary levels of protection."

Symantec invested an undisclosed amount in Brightmail in July 2000 and holds an equity stake of approximately 11 percent. According to a recent report from IT think tank Gartner, Brightmail is one of the four "leaders" in the antispam market today.