Malwarebytes CEO Marcin Kleczynski was only 14 when he fell into the industry while downloading a pirate video game which infected the family computer with malware. In his search to fix the problem, he developed a passion for cybersecurity which led to the creation of Malwarebytes.
With offices in California, Florida, Ireland and Estonia, the company has around 400 employees and revenues of $100m (£68.6m), with a 50/50 split between consumer and business.
Fresh from scoring $50m in funding from Fidelity Investments, Kleczynski (pictured) spoke to CRN's Samantha Wright about Malwarebytes' roots, its channel ambitions, and where the industry's future lies.
What was the genesis of Malwarebytes?
I was downloading a pirated video game online. We had traditional anti-virus software and all of a sudden pop-ups are coming up and the computer is melting down.
My mother was ready to kill me. So I went online, like any sane person would, and Googled my symptoms. I found a security forum, with about 100 to 200 volunteers who were helping people like me do a manual removal process of the malware. I learned how to programme, and decided to automate some of these processes. So that is what I did in 2004; by 2007 I had a couple of freeware applications out there that were helping the community.
In 2008 we launched the first version of the product and it went viral. We had $10m by the end of the year. The company started by selling just to consumers. You run the product for free, it gets you back to health, and then if you pay $25 you get a professional lifetime licence, which protects you for life.
We started being pulled into more and more business accounts, with people who used our products at home wanting to use them at work, and that is where our enterprise business really spawned from.
Did you expect the business to grow to the point it is at now?
No way. My mother thought it was a school project all the way up until last year. We started the company and were booted strapped for five years, profitable from the beginning, cashflow positive from the beginning. We've never lost a dollar.
We hope to potentially be acquired, IPO or just keep growing the business over the next few years.
How important is the channel to Malwarebytes?
We went from 2014 when the channel accounted for a sixth of our business, to last year when it was about a third of our business. This quarter it has already been 36 per cent, so we are growing more and more skewed towards the channel, which is great. In the UK we work with partners including Kite Distribution and Blue Solutions. We have added 1,000 resellers over the last five months.
What are the tricks for developing a company in the security industry in such a short time, and at such a young age?
I owe everything to our remediation strategy; just having something out there that is free for people to try. If I were to start over today and try to do it without a free model to draw people in and try the software, we could never succeed.
I think you need to have a value proposition that is free to try, let people sample it on their own time and get the brand message out there.
Who would you say are your competitors?
The next-generation products such as Crowdstrike, SentinelOne and Palo Alto. I think the traditional AV players are starting to teeter between next-generation and old-school approaches. Companies like Symantec and McAfee are old school, I don't think there is much hope there.
Where do you think Malwarebytes will be in five years' time?
I want to reinvent security. I think the way security is today is still wrong; I want to move more into being a platform. Think App Store on your iPhone; I really want to do the same thing for end-point security. So an IT administrator could log on and see all the computers in real time and install security software on them from there, whether they are in Beijing, London or Chicago - from their desk they can see all of that.
I think that is where we are heading in the next two or three years, but beyond that I don't know yet. If you had asked me five years ago where we would be now, I couldn't even guess.
Businesses also admit to holding data without permission of subjects
Zedsphere says end-point security vendor's offerings will be a 'key' feature of its wider portfolio
New acquisition will bring UK cloud service provider's global headcount to over 700
Law firm claims that Oracle lied to investors over what is driving its cloud revenue growth and boosted sales through 'threats and extortive tactics'