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McAfee CEO Chris Young steps down, Peter Leav to take over

Last updated on 21/01/2020

Chris Young is out as McAfee CEO, and Peter Leav is in.

McAfee appointed Leav to the role of CEO on Friday, succeeding Young, who “has decided to step down” according to a statement from the cybersecurity vendor.

McAfee said Young will remain in an advisory role during the transition period and will become a senior advisor at TPG Capital, which acquired a majority stake in the vendor from Intel in 2016. Leav will be appointed to the cybersecurity company’s board of managers when he joins on Feb. 3.

Leav has CEO experience in his most recent two roles at BMC Software and Polycom. He also previously held leadership roles at NCR Corporation and Motorola.

As McAfee CEO, Young led the initiative to spin out the company from Intel, after joining the chip maker two years earlier and serving as senior vice president and general manager of Intel Security Group. Intel had purchased McAfee in 2010 for $7.7 billion in an effort to beef up its security presence. TPG maintains a 51% stake in McAfee, while the other 49% belongs to other stakeholders including Thoma Bravo and Intel.

Eric Parizo, senior analyst at Ovum, called the move “absolutely shocking,” adding that, “While McAfee characterized the change as being Young’s decision to step down, there’s little doubt that Young was essentially fired.”

Parizo credited Young for much of the progress the vendor has made in recent years. “It’s unfortunate because Young has been the architect of a largely successful multiyear effort to renovate McAfee top to bottom,” he said. “From the launch of its MVISION cloud-based product portfolio to its new brand and revamped go-to-market strategy, McAfee today is more competitive than it’s been in years, thanks to Young’s efforts.”

Parizo also said Leav’s appointment could spell out TPG’s future plans for McAfee.

“Leav is a veteran technology executive, but his expertise lies in resuscitating struggling companies like BMC and Polycom and ultimately preparing them for sale,” he said. “I expect the same pattern to play out here; making a sale or other transaction involving McAfee increasingly likely. Even an acquisition by or combination with NortonLifeLock, which seemed farfetched until yesterday, is no longer out of the realm of possibility.”