John McAfee has his name back. The controversial anti-virus software entrepreneur had been sharing it with Intel since 2011. But after his bizarre exploits in Belize became prime tabloid fodder more than a year ago, it seemed only a matter of time before the association went the way of history.
It wasn’t as though Mr McAfee didn’t see it coming. This was what he had to say last month, after an Intel executive hinted that the chipmaker would be dropping the McAfee name from the security software business it bought for nearly $8bn:
It seems that the big honchos at McAfee Corp have decided to set me free once and for all from the negative impact that our shared name has brought to my brand and image.
Intel duly obliged, with an announcement at the Consumer Electronics Show this week that it would rebrand its anti-virus division as the far less exciting Intel Security.
Mr McAfee has waited a long time to get back the exclusive rights to the name he was born with. After all, it is two decades since he cut his ties with the anti-virus company he had founded as a side-project while working as a developer at Lockheed.
There’s no word from Intel on why is has acted now. But when Mr McAfee fled Belize after authorities there named him a suspect in a November 2012 murder, it was just the latest in a long string of personal incidents that threatened to shine an unwelcome name on Intel’s new security software brand. He claimed that he feared for his safety. No charges were brought.
Until recently, the corporate heirs to the McAfee name seemed to ascribe considerable value to it. In its final annual report as an independent company, McAfee listed “brand name recognition and reputation” as one of its key assets.
Intel subsequently put a value of $821m on the trade names it assumed with the acquisition, though didn’t say how much of that was for the privilege of using Mr McAfee’s personal moniker.
But it seems more than happy to hand it back now for nothing.