Changing Anti-Virus Models Spur New Hiring

Mobile Security

If you expect that increasing malware and security threats means increased hiring at companies that combat them, you’d be both right and wrong. Among the industry stalwarts — the likes of Microsoft, AVAST, Symantec and McAfee – some are hiring while others are letting people go.

The reason is the dramatic changes impacting the industry. First, there’s the financial: A crop of new companies is benefiting from lower costs of entry and cloud-based setups. For example, San Jose, Calif.-based Malwarebytes grew its staff by 70 percent in 2012 and 93 percent during the first 10 months of 2013. Another, FireEye, tripled the size of its headquarters in Milpitas, Calif., in 2012 to make room for more people. According to an SEC filing in March, headcount increased from more than 175 employees in December 2011 to over 1,600 at the end of 2013. And the company still expects headcount to grow.

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Changing Dynamics

A shift from paid to free models and a move away from retail and PC agreements has also shaken things up. In October 2013, avast! Free Antivirus was the leading product with real time protection, with a market share of 19.6 percent. That’s according to the San Francisco-based software company OPSWAT, which provides security software development tools. Microsoft’s Security Essentials and Windows Defender were next with 17.2 percent and 7.8 percent shares, respectively. The other products posting more than a 4 percent share included Avira Free Antivirus, AVG Anti-Virus Free Edition and ESET Smart Security.

Restructuring and Layoffs

Partly as a result, some of the sector’s well-known names are restructuring their operations to focus on free products and the growing market in mobile security. Others are streamlining operations and laying off due to the increasing competition. In January, Intel-owned McAfee announced it was rebranding itself Intel Security and launching a plan to offer free products. In mid 2013, Symantec laid off about 8 percent of its workforce. More recently, it fired President and CEO Steve Bennett.

Industry Hiring

So who’s adding people? One sure way to find out is to follow the money. In February, Czech Republic-based AVAST Software announced that CVC Capital Partners, a London private equity firm, was making a major investment in the company. In a conversation with Dice, CEO Vincent Steckler said that CVC “bought 40 percent of the company from existing shareholders.” The investment, valuing AVAST at $1 billion, will “position the company to expand its global reach into mobile security and the USA,” according to a press release.

Steckler admits this is a “crowded space” to be in, but argues that AVAST has what he sees as “first-mover advantage.” The company hired about 350 people worldwide in 2013, and Steckler tells Dice that it plans to hire some 500 more globally in 2014. About 50 to 70 of these will be in the U.S. The majority are expected to be in R&D on the Windows side, while others will work on projects related to specialized security products and services. Steckler says to expect hiring for Android and iOS developers and Big Data scientists, too.

Meanwhile, Moscow-based Kaspersky Lab is ready to add people, with plans to hire many more regional field reps in 2014. The company reported its workforce grew to more than 2,800 people in 2013, compared to 2,300 in 2011. Kaspersky is hiring analysts, engineers and sales and marketing people at its Woburn, Mass., location. Meanwhile, McAfee has jobs posted for engineers, developers and project managers, with the bulk in its Santa Clara, Calif., offices.

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Comments

  1. BY John says:

    It’s not simply a matter of lower costs of entry and cloud based setups.

    Malwarebytes, for example, has quite an avid following who seem to be very vocal in telling others in online discussions how great Malwarebytes is. I’ve seen them mentioned pretty much everywhere I ended in after searching for antivirus program reviews and info.

    Kaspersky seems to consistently rank among the very best, usually being #1. My guess is that Kaspersky soon will have their avid following like Malwarebytes, if they do not have that avid following already.

    The older antivirus vendors got a bad rap starting probably in the late 1990s. I remember so many people saying how they disliked those brands due to the software being bloated, overpriced, etc. To me it seemed they started putting too much effort into marketing and not enough in making the best product. Symantec probably lost more due to this but McAfee did as well even to the point where Intel is rebranding the product.

    Overall, I don’t think it’s about costs of entry and cloud hosting. It comes down to one thing: build the best product.

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