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Last night John McAfee was picked up by the Guatemala special police task force for questioning about his illegal entry into the country. His lawyer, Mr. Guerra, accompanied him to Emigrason Albergue in Guatemala City and is attempting to get John out before his press conference tomorrow. Updates to come.

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UPDATE: Many sites have pointed out that Vice Magazine, which is accompanying John McAfee as he runs away from Belizean law enforcement, seems to have accidentally revealed his location taken by an accompanying reporter. Based on the location data in the photo's metadata (EXIF), at least at the time of that photo, he was in Guatemala, just over the border from Belize. For what its worth, McAfee now claims that that GPS location was fake, too. In any case for all folks who want a little more privacy with their photos, here's some tips from Lifehacker. Still, McAfee adds: "I do not believe that Vice will remain with me further. Again, my apologies."

A few weeks ago, founder of McAfee Security John McAfee (he no longer has any connection to the company), was named by Belizean authorities as a “person of interest” in the murder of another American expatriate also living in the Central American country. Since then, McAfee has been on the lam, somehow managing to evade authorities in a country with 300,000 residents living in an area slightly smaller than Massachusetts.

After rumors of his arrest on his own website over the weekend, McAfee now reports that he is “safe" and outside of Belize for the moment, but he plans on returning.

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Please see the latest update (12/4) on this fast-moving story here: Fugitive Software Guru John McAfee Seeks ‘Asylum’ in Guatemala, Claims He’ll Be Killed in Belize Update 12/3 10:30 a.m. EST: In a posting on his website, John McAfee (or someone writing under his name) claims that the fugitive software pioneer has fled Belize and is now safely outside the country “in the company of two intrepid journalist[s] from Vice Magazine, and, of course, Sam.” (Sam is the young woman McAfee has been hiding out with.) McAfee claims to have dispatched a body double carrying a North Korean passport under his name, who was briefly detained in Mexico, before being released. “I left Belize because of a series of events which led both Sam and I to believe that she was in danger of capture,” McAfee writes. He also suggests, as he has in the past, that the entire episode is the result of his one-man crusade to battle corruption in Belize. I’ll update the story as more details become available. Three weeks ago, police in the small Central American country of Belize discovered U.S. software mogul John McAfee’s neighbor, 52-year old American businessman Gregory Faull, lying dead in a pool of blood with a 9-mm. bullet wound to the head. Just days earlier, authorities had been summoned to McAfee’s beachfront home after the eccentric software millionaire shot four of his own dogs, in order, he claimed, to put them out of their misery after they had been poisoned by unknown assailants. Belizean authorities insist they only want to question McAfee about the murder — he hasn’t been charged with a crime. But rather than submit to questioning, the 67-year-old McAfee freaked out and declared that he would be killed if taken into custody by Belizean authorities. That, apparently, is why McAfee has decided to lead Belizean authorities, not to mention the international press corps, on a rapidly escalating wild goose chase that keeps getting weirder by the day. Reached by phone, a spokesman for McAfee claimed not to know where his client was, but acknowledged that McAfee is on the run.

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Mcafee_thumb

Whether or not you’ve been following the saga of cyber security millionaire and bath salt aficionado John McAfee, you’re going to want to check out his new blog, The Hinterland. It’s a fascinating glimpse into the mind of an apparent mad man. This is the same mad man who’s wanted by police for questioning regarding the murder of his neighbor, American ex-pat Gregory Faull, who had recently filed a complaint against McAfee for “roguish behavior.” If you’re wondering what exactly that could mean, look no further than The Hinterland.

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Chris Dixon Speaks

Last year, Chris Dixon sold a startup he founded, Hunch, to eBay for $80 million.

A couple years before that, he sold another startup he founded, SiteAdvisor, to McAfee for a rumored price of $75 million.

Now he's working for eBay and doing a lot of investing in startups, too.

Yesterday, Dixon published a post on "some things I’ve learned about the acquisition process over the years." It contains 14 lessons for aspiring entrepreneurs.

They are:

  • There is an old saying that startups are bought not sold. Clearly it is better to be in high demand and have inbound interest. But for product and tech acquisitions especially, it is often about getting the attention of the right people at the acquirer. Sometimes the right person is corp dev, other times product or business unit leads, and other times C-level management.
  • Don’t use a banker unless your company is late stage and you are selling based on a multiple of profits or revenues. I’ve seen many acquisitions bungled by bankers who were either too aggressive on terms or upset the relationship between the startup and acquirer.
  • Research the potential acquirer before the first meeting. Try to understand management’s priorities, especially as they relate to your company.  Talk to people who work in the same sector. Talk to industry analysts, investors, etc. If an acquirer is public, Wall Street analyst reports can be helpful.
  • Develop relationships with key people – corp dev, management, product and business unit leads. The earlier the better.
  • Don’t try to be cute. Leaking rumors to the press, creating a false sense of competition, etc. is generally a bad idea. Besides being ethically questionable, it can create ill will.
  • What you tell employees is particularly tricky. Being open with employees can lead to press leaks and can annoy acquirers. Moreover, some public companies insist that you don’t talk to employees until the deal is closed or almost closed. Employees usually get a sense that something is going on and this can put you in the awkward situation of being forced to lie to them. I don’t know of a good solution to this problem.
  • Understand the process and what each milestone along the way means. As with financings, acquisitions take a long time and involve lots of meetings and difficult decisions. Inexperienced entrepreneurs tend to get overly excited about a few good meetings.
  • Strike while the iron is hot. Just as with financings, you need to be opportunistic. Waiting 6 months to hit another milestone might improve your fundamentals, but the acquirer’s interest might wane.
  • There are two schools of thought on price negotiation: anchor early or wait until you’ve gotten strong interest. Obviously having multiple interested parties makes finding a fair price a lot easier.
  • Deal structure: the cap table is an agreement between you and the shareholders that says, in effect: “If we sell the company, this is how we pay out founders, employees, and investors.” Acquirers have gotten increasingly aggressive about rewriting cap tables to 1) hold back key employee payouts for retention purposes, and 2) give a greater share of proceeds to employees/founders.  Some even go so far as to try to cut side deals with key employees to entice them to abandon the other employees and investors. In terms of ethics and reputations, it is important to be fair to all parties involved: the acquirer, founders, employees, and investors.
  • Research the reputation of the acquirer, especially how they have behave between LOI and closing (good people to talk to: investors, other acquired startups, startup lawfirms). This is when acquirers have all the leverage and can mistreat you. Some acquirers treat LOIs the way VCs treat term sheets, as a contract they’ll honor unless they discover egregious issues like material misrepresentations. Others treat them as an opportunity to get free market intelligence.
  • Certain terms beyond price can be deal killers. The most prominent one lately is “IP indemnification.” This is a complicated issue, but in short, as a response to patent trolls going after IP escrows, acquirers have been trying to get clawbacks from investors in case of IP claims. This term is a non-starter to institutional investors (and most individual investors). You need to understand all the potential deal-killer terms and hire an experienced startup law firm to help you.
  • Ignore the cynical blog chatter about “acqui-hires” (or, as they used to be called, “talent acquisitions”). Only people who have been through the process understand that sometimes these outcomes are good for everyone involved (including users when the alternative is shutting down).
  • Finally, acquisitions should be thought of as partnerships that will last long after the deal closes. Besides the commitments you make as part of the deal, your professional reputation will be closely tied to the fate of the acquisition. This is one more reason why you should only raise money if you are prepared for a long-term commitment.

Keep up with Dixon on his blog or on Twitter.

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