The rise and fall of anti-virus tycoon John McAfee

Yesterday evening, McAfee founder, John McAfee, died in his prison cell in Spain. Top Business Tech looks back at his life.

Founding the world’s first commercial anti-virus software 

He created the first-ever commercial anti-virus software. He founded McAfee Associates to sell the product and resigned in 1994, selling his stake in the company. However, he soon turned on the company he founded, openly criticising the company, branding the product as “bloatware.” 

McAfee enjoyed a wealth of US$100mn until he took a big hit during the 2007-2008 financial crisis. Over the last three decades, McAfee founded other business ventures, including Tribal Voice and PowWow, QuorumEx, and Future Tense Central

Bringing cybersecurity to politics

In addition to his involvement in several cybersecurity companies, McAfee also entered into politics. In September 2015, he announced that he would run for president of the United States in the 2016 presidential election as the candidate of a political party called “The Cyber Party.” First, He used his position to advocate an increase in cybersecurity awareness but later re-announced his candidacy bid, seeking the nomination of the Libertarian Party. McAfee announced that he would run again for the 2020 election as a Libertarian, promoting the use of cryptocurrency. At the same time as his campaign, the IRS indicted him for tax-related felonies. McAfee continued to run as Adam Kokesh’s Vice President while also continuing his campaign for the presidency, eventually losing both positions.

Controversial charges 

McAfee was arrested in Guatemala as a “person of interest” following the discovery of his dead neighbour, Gregory Faull, by police in his home. He was released a week later. In October 2020, he was accused of tax evasion, owing four years of tax, totalling over $4mn according to prosecutors, and was arrested in Spain. While in prison, he was subject to further charges, including fraud, money laundering via his social media promotion of cryptocurrency. 


McAfee was informed that he would remain in prison for the rest of his life if he was extradited. Hours later, he was found dead in his cell. The Catalan Justice Department said in a statement that “everything indicates” suicide. McAfee indeed broke the mould on what a stereotypical cybersecurity pioneer looks like and will undoubtedly go down in history for both his entrepreneurial success and controversial lifestyle. 

For more news from Top Business Tech, don’t forget to subscribe to our daily bulletin!

Follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter

Amber Donovan-Stevens

Amber is a Content Editor at Top Business Tech

Ab Initio partners with BT Group to deliver big data

Luke Conrad • 24th October 2022

AI is becoming an increasingly important element of the digital transformation of many businesses. As well as introducing new opportunities, it also poses a number of challenges for IT teams and the data teams supporting them. Ab Initio has announced a partnership with BT Group to implement its big data management solutions on BT’s internal...

WAICF – Dive into AI visiting one of the most...

Delia Salinas • 10th March 2022

Every year Cannes held an international technological event called World Artificial Intelligence Cannes Festival, better known by its acronym WAICF. One of the most luxurious cities around the world, located on the French Riviera and host of the annual Cannes Film Festival, Midem, and Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. 

Bouncing back from a natural disaster with resilience

Amber Donovan-Stevens • 16th December 2021

In the last decade, we’ve seen some of the most extreme weather events since records began, all driven by our human impact on the plant. Businesses are rapidly trying to implement new green policies to do their part, but climate change has also forced businesses to adapt and redefine their disaster recovery approach. Curtis Preston,...