The security software industry is worth around $100 billion dollars, so there is certainly room for some big companies and great stories.
The biggest company in the security software space is Symantec, the company behind Norton Internet Security and antivirus products, is valued at a cool $16 billion dollars and turns over $6 billion annually. Symantec had humble beginnings, founded by Gary Hendrix in 1982 with a grant from the National Science Foundation. In 1984, it was acquired by another software company, C&E Software, starting a long line of acquisition for the then small business. C&E Software adopted the Symantec name and worked through ‘til November 1985 to the release of their first big product, Q&A. In July of 1989, following success of the Q&A product, Symantec had its IPO.
Fast forward to 2000, after hundreds of millions of dollars worth of acquisitions and massive growth, Symantec makes their biggest acquisition to date in acquiring AXENT Technologies in a deal worth almost $1 billion. In 2016, Symantec are to split Veritas software from the company (who they acquired for over $13.5 billion dollars in 2005).
The biggest story in the antivirus space is the overwhelming success of Qihoo 360 security, who are the makers of the ultra-popular 360 security mobile apps on iOS and android. For such an unrecognisable brand name in the western world, you would not expect their net worth to be anywhere near the reported $10 billion. The worth becomes understandable when you realise that they have an active user base of well over 100 million per day. When they released their app in India, it was downloaded over 10 million times in just 3 weeks! The app is completely free, the way it is monetized is through advertising. At the end of 2014, the company had over 1 billion users over desktop and mobile.
The biggest company involved with antivirus software is undoubtedly Microsoft, who maintain a 20% market share in the security software industry. This large market share is mostly thanks to it’s huge product ‘Microsoft Security Essentials’, which is available to download free of charge if you use a Windows operating system. Microsoft Security Essentials is the most popular antivirus product in North America, and the second most popular in the world. When the product first launched, it was quickly dismissed by other antivirus brands like McAfee and Kaspersky, who claimed the product was inferior to their own and would hold at a measly 2% market share.
Who’s the fastest growing antivirus company today? That would be Bitdefender. Thanks to the production of quality products and aggressive marketing, Bitdefender have been able to slowly grow their company to a user base of over half a billion and are on their way to becoming the first company ever from Romania to go public. The company is relatively new compared to other big names in the space (for example, McAfee have been around for almost twice as long), so it is very impressive that they have managed to achieve the share they have in a market so crowded.