McAfee has announced a takeover of Secure Computing, ending that company’s independent existence. To this I can only say: It’s about time! Early this century, I was asked to revive my old investment research career and find stocks to short. A promising candidate turned out to be Secure Computing, whose main product lines included:
- A high-end “proxy”-style firewall, which was widely used in the US intelligence and defense communities
- A two-factor authentication division
- A censorware division that, for example, had run Saudi Arabia’s web censorship since the late 1990s
- A firewall-on-a-board OEM deal with 3COM
The short idea was in large part that the firewall-on-a-board idea had caused great overoptimism, stoked by the company. On further digging, I found that CEO John McNulty’s resume, as stated for example in Secure Computing’s SEC filings, seemed inconsistent with his resume as stated in SEC filings of his prior employer. Nobody seemed to care much about correcting that, however.
I quickly stopped doing business with the investment research firm in question, and nothing came of the investment project. But I wasn’t surprised when, in its very first batch of Reg FD enforcement actions, the SEC slapped Secure Computing and McNulty.
Secure Computing has subsequently made a lot of acquisitions and divestitures. I have no doubt many of the products deserve to live on, and almsot all of the people working on them deserve jobs making that happen. Even so, I’m glad to see the company itself going out of existence. And I’d guess it’s no coincidence that Secure is selling out less than half a year after McNulty’s much-belated resignation as CEO.