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McAfee Sells Enterprise Security Business to Private Equity Firm STG

McAfee is selling its enterprise security software business to private equity firm Symphony Technology Group (STG) for $4.0 billion, the companies disclosed this morning.

This is technology M&A deal number 161 that ChannelE2E has covered so far in 2021. See all technology M&A deals for 2021 and 2020 listed here.

McAfee Sells Enterprise Security Business: Deal Details

McAfee’s Enterprise business serves 86% of the Fortune 100 firms, and generated $1.3 billion in net revenue in fiscal year 2020, the company says. McAfee's consumer security software business is not part of the deal.

Once the deal closes, the McAfee consumer business will retain its name and focus. The Enterprise business will be re-branded, which is expected to occur in the coming months, the companies say. The deal is expected to close before 2022.

The STG-McAfee deal is similar to rival Symantec's breakup into two companies in 2019. At the time, Broadcom acquired Symantec's enterprise security business for $10.7 billion. Symantec's consumer business, now known as NortonLifeLock, remains publicly held and trades under the stock symbol $NLOK.

Private Equity Buys McAfee Enterprise Security Business: Executive Perspectives

In a prepared statement about the deal, McAfee CEO Peter Leav said:

“STG is the right partner to continue strengthening our Enterprise business, and this outcome is a testament to the business’ industry-leading solutions and most notably to the outstanding contributions of our employees. This transaction will allow McAfee to singularly focus on our consumer business and to accelerate our strategy to be a leader in personal security for consumers.”

Added William Chisholm, Managing Partner at STG:

“McAfee is one of the most iconic brands in enterprise security and has a reputation for innovation, quality and leadership. We are fully committed to driving the business’ strategy to be the leading device-to-cloud cybersecurity company by partnering with McAfee’s existing world-class team to continue delivering exceptional performance to enterprises and government clients globally.”

McAfee Enterprise Security Software: Business Evolution

McAfee has evolved its enterprise security software business through organic R&D as well as acquisitions. The company in November 2020 unveiled MVISION XDR (eXtended Detection and Response) to help partners and customers improve SOC (Security Operations Center) threat response capabilities and lower costs.

Around the same time, McAfee announced the MVISION Cloud Native Application Protection Platform (CNAPP). The platform “delivers consistent data protection, threat prevention, governance and compliance throughout the cloud-native application lifecycle, including container and OS-based workloads, McAfee says.”

Also, McAfee has aligned with Amazon Business to help SMB partners address security and IT resource challenges.

McAfee, MSPs and MSSPs: Cooperating and Competing?

On service provider front, McAfee's enterprise business both competes and cooperates with MSPs and MSSPs (managed security services providers). In a 2020 SEC filing that briefly mentioned MSSPs, McAfee stated:

“Some of our enterprise customers have outsourced some or all of the management of their information technology departments to large system integrators. Some customers have also outsourced portions of their cybersecurity operations to MSSPs. If this trend continues, our established customer relationships could be disrupted, and our solutions could be displaced by alternatives offered by system integrators and MSSPs that do not include or use our solutions. These displacements could negatively impact our financial results and have an adverse effect on our business.”

In stark contrast, numerous cybersecurity software and appliance companies have successfully built MSP- and MSSP-centric partner programs that either minimize or completely eliminate channel conflicts with service providers. For instance, 18 percent of MSSPs name Fortinet as the top technology company assisting service providers with cybersecurity business strategies, according to a 2020 MSSP Alert survey.

McAfee Enterprise Alternatives: CrowdStrike, SentinelOne Grow Rapidly

McAfee has also faced intense competition from fast-growing endpoint detection and response (EDR) software companies — such as CrowdStrike and SentinelOne, among many others.

CrowdStrike’s revenue was $232.5 million in Q3 of fiscal 2021, up 86 percent from Q3 of fiscal 2020, the company disclosed on December 2, 2020. Meanwhile, SentinelOne is preparing an IPO that could achieve a $10 billion valuation.

Also of note: Major technology companies such as Cisco SystemsMicrosoft and VMware  have pushed deeper into the cybersecurity market.

Still, the McAfee enterprise security business continues to generate about $1 billion in annual revenue. The big question: How will new owner STG invest in the business -- especially in terms of the enterprise group's partner program? We'll be watching and listening for clues from STG.

Joe Panettieri

Joe Panettieri is co-founder & editorial director of MSSP Alert and ChannelE2E, the two leading news & analysis sites for managed service providers in the cybersecurity market.