They’ve been building AV products for 22 years and started in the Czech republic. It’s now privately held by the two founders. They believe they are the most senior of the AV companies in terms of how long the founders have been active in the company.
They’re the #1 or #2 AV in the world – 40 languages, 125 million users. The US is the largest market for revenue and the second largest for the free version.
The interesting thing is that they are community based. They distribute the product for free and it is “every bit as good as paid AV”. The community becomes malware collectors and enables them to see viruses around the world instantly. The community also does the marketing by referral – 3 million users per month. The community also provides online support as volunteers (some have posted as many as 20,000 replies). The community volunteers also help develop the localized versions.
A user can install the free product and a few weeks later is prompted to register. It expires after a year and the user is prompted to either renew the free version or buy the not-free version. Premium versions add sandboxing (“for geeks”) and there is an Internet Security Suite that adds a 2 way firewall and anti-spam. The free version is good enough for most. They recommend the premium version with firewall for online transactions.
The free version does a lot, detecting malware, rootkits, and also doing reputation ranking on websites.
There’s also a complete set of corporate products – desktop, servers, email – all with an enterprise class management GUI. In September the new version comes out with a focus on SMB usability. It’s a completely new management environment. The client version will also have full sandboxing capabilities.
The client product gets refreshed every January and they’re adding some cloud features for delivery of signatures and crowd sourcing website reputation. There will be extra protections for online transactions such as complete sandboxing – it in effect turns the sandbox inside out and creates a complete safe environment so it doesn’t matter if the machine is infected.
They support Windows (back to 95) and have Mac and Linux products. They also support most mobile OS’s but not Android right now. RIM and Apple lock down their environments so viruses aren’t a big worry, but Android isn’t locked down at all. Mac and Linux are managed just like Windows.
There’s white listing and black listing in the corporate version for apps and websites. They provide a big list and it can be customized. Also has heuristic analysis and is not just signature based.
The client is fast and lightweight which is good for netbooks and older PC’s (ie, the consumer market).
Summit Partners just invested $100 million in the company as a minority stake. They see the company as profitable and well-managed and will help AVAST move to “the next stage”. They have a lot of operational experience so this is about more than raising money. They see value in the free version and will continue to build the company. This isn’t like a startup that needs funding, they’re just going to the next level.
Vince did say something interesting:
“Macs aren’t any more secure than Windows. They are just fewer users so it is a smaller target. There’s no reason to attack such a small footprint [yet].”