Intel Corporation, which acquired the cyber-security giant McAfee in August for 7.7 billion big ones, has announced that they will henceforth be rebranding McAfee as “Intel Security.” The internet is buzzing with speculation that Intel’s motivation is to dissociate the internet security software from its eccentric founder, John McAfee.
Did I mention he was eccentric? Mr. McAfee has worked for NASA, written several books about yoga, and is known to be extremely paranoid to the point where he changes his I.P. address several times a day. For a while he was like John Nash, the schizophrenic Nobel prize winner made famous by the movie “A Beautiful Mind,” or the earless Vincent Van Gogh—an eccentric genius that fascinated the public. For a while, perhaps, the intrigue around Mr. McAfee helped the McAfee brand.
More recently, however, Mr. McAfee has leapt out of the realm of eccentric and landed squarely in the realm of crazy. He became famous—notorious, rather—for being arrested (though not charged) for drug use in Belize in April 2012 and for fleeing to Guatemala in December 2012 after being accused of murdering his Belizian neighbor, an accusation he vehemently denies. He released a video about how to uninstall McAfee software in which he shoots a laptop with a gun. And when told of Intel’s plan to rebrand his eponymous software, he was elated, saying that finally he was freed from “association with the worst software on the planet…My elation at Intel’s decision is beyond words.”
At the end of the day (or really at any time of day), rebranding takes time, effort, and gobs of money. It sacrifices all the currency and traction the previous brand carried—and needless to say, McAfee is a household name. So was it worthwhile to sacrifice the equity of the McAfee name? Yes. Not only has Mr. McAfee become a man no longer nice to associate or pal around with, McAfee software is perennially disparaged by users. Check out Google auto-fill for a moment. When typing in “Get McAfe…” the top auto-fill is not “Get McAfee” but rather “Get McAfee off my computer.” Needless to say, that’s bad.
Does the name Intel Security have any personality at all? No—none at all. It is a lackluster, safe name. Saltine crackers have more personality than Intel Security and of course McAfee had way more personality. But, it fits with all the other bori—I mean trusted—stuff that Intel does…so you know what? It’s a good name.