Partners Surprised As Intel Scraps The McAfee Name

About three years after Intel spent $7.68 billion to acquire security giant McAfee, Intel is scrapping the McAfee brand name, beginning immediately by phasing it out as new products are introduced.

Speaking at the Consumer Electronics Show Monday, Intel CEO Brian Krzanich said the company's security products will now be called Intel Security, unveiling the rebranding during his keynote, in which he highlighted a variety of Intel products for the consumer market.

McAfee will continue to operate as a wholly owned subsidiary, and it will take up to a year before the McAfee name is completely retired, an Intel spokesperson told CRN. The new Intel Security brand will be used to identify all Intel security products and services, including McAfee's product portfolio. The red McAfee shield logo will remain, the spokesperson said.

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McAfee employees will continue to work with Intel employees involved in security activities under the Intel Security umbrella, the spokesperson said.

McAfee channel chief Gavin Struthers was unavailable for comment Tuesday morning.

McAfee partners told CRN that they were surprised, but not alarmed, by the move. The company showed no signs that a rebranding was in the works when it met with elite partners at its SecurityAlliance Partner Summit in October. McAfee President Mike DeCesare told partners at the summit that McAfee and Intel engineers were working more closely than ever to develop technologies that could be jointly brought to market.

"They're taking out one of those pillars in the security community," said Michael Goldstein, president of Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based LAN Infotech, a McAfee partner. "It's been around for a long while and always stood for strong security."

The rebranding also comes as John McAfee, who founded the company in 1987, has been making headlines, despite having left the company in 1994. Partners have been watching his erratic behavior with interest but stress that his activity has had minimal impact on the brand name. It likely was not a major factor in the decision, said Goldstein and other McAfee partners.

Solution providers should always be prepared for the potential of a brand to fade away over time after an acquisition, said John Farhat, vice president and CFO of ACTS Consulting Training Solutions, a Jacksonville, Fla.-based McAfee partner. Farhat told CRN that ACTS Consulting became a McAfee partner following its acquisition of cloud-based antispam and Web filtering vendor MX Logic in 2009, and eventually saw the MX Logic name phased out.

"We've all been aware that McAfee took it over and was running the show," Farhat said. "We still sometimes call it MX Logic, and I'm sure the same could be said going forward about McAfee products. These things take time."

Brand changes are common in the security industry where consolidation happens frequently, said Bob Breitman, president of Bingham Farms, Mich.-based CloudAny, a McAfee partner that specializes in hosted Exchange, SharePoint, desktops and hosted servers. Breitman said partners should closely follow the company's product strategy.

"The only concern I would have is if the management and the autonomy changes. I don't care what the name is as long as the product works," Breitman said.