|Intro||American computer programmer and businessman|
|A.K.A.||John David McAfee|
|Was||Software engineer Programmer Engineer Businessperson Computer scientist Politician|
|From||United States of America|
|Type||Business Engineering Politics Science Technology|
|Birth||18 September 1945, Cinderford, Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire, United Kingdom|
|Death||23 June 2021, Sant Esteve Sesrovires, Baix Llobregat, Barcelona Province, Spain (aged 75 years)|
|Residence||Salem, Virginia, USA|
John David McAfee (/ˈmækəfiː/ MAK-ə-fee; September 18, 1945 – June 23, 2021) was a British-American computer programmer and businessman. He founded the software company McAfee Associates in 1987 and ran it until 1994, when he resigned from the company. McAfee Associates achieved early success as the creator of McAfee's first commercial antivirus software, and the business now produces a range of enterprise security software. The company was purchased by Intel in 2011, though it still bears the McAfee brand name. McAfee's wealth peaked in 2007 at $100 million, before his investments plummeted in the financial crisis of 2007–2008.
After leaving McAfee Associates, he founded the companies Tribal Voice (makers of the PowWow chat program), QuorumEx, and Future Tense Central, among others, and was involved in leadership positions in the companies Everykey, MGT Capital Investments, and Luxcore, among others. His personal and business interests included smartphone apps, cryptocurrency, yoga, and herbal antibiotics. He resided for a number of years in Belize, but returned to the United States in 2013 while wanted in Belize for questioning on suspicion of murder.
McAfee was also a political activist. He unsuccessfully sought the Libertarian Party nomination for President of the United States in 2016 and 2020.
On October 6, 2020, McAfee was arrested in Spain over tax evasion charges. The charges were announced shortly after the U.S. SEC revealed that it had brought civil charges against McAfee and that he could face 30 years in prison if convicted.
On June 23, 2021, McAfee was found dead due to an apparent suicide in a prison cell near Barcelona shortly after his extradition to the United States was authorized by the Spanish National Court.
McAfee was born in Cinderford, in the Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire, United Kingdom, on a U.S. Army base to an American father, who was stationed there, and a British mother. He was primarily raised in Salem, Virginia. McAfee said that he felt as much British as he felt American. When McAfee was 15, his father, an abusive alcoholic, committed suicide by gunshot.
He received a bachelor's degree in mathematics in 1967 from Roanoke College, which subsequently awarded him an honorary Sc.D. degree in 2008.
Before McAfee Associates
McAfee was employed as a programmer by NASA's Institute for Space Studies in New York City from 1968 to 1970. From there, he went to Univac as a software designer, and later to Xerox as an operating system architect. In 1978, he joined Computer Sciences Corporation as a software consultant. He worked for consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton from 1980 to 1982. In the 1980s, while employed by Lockheed, McAfee received a copy of the Brain computer virus, and began developing software to combat viruses.
In 1987 McAfee founded McAfee Associates, an anti computer virus company. The company was incorporated in Delaware in 1992, and McAfee resigned from the company in 1994. Two years after McAfee Associates went public, McAfee sold his remaining stake in the company.
Network Associates was formed in 1997 as a merger of McAfee Associates and Network General. The Network Associates company name was retained for seven years, when it was renamed McAfee, Inc. In August 2010, Intel bought McAfee, maintaining the separate branding, until January 2014, when it announced that McAfee-related products will be marketed as Intel Security. McAfee expressed his pleasure at the name change, saying, "I am now everlastingly grateful to Intel for freeing me from this terrible association with the worst software on the planet." The unit was spun out of Intel in April 2017 as McAfee, LLC, as a joint venture between TPG Capital and Intel.
After McAfee Associates
Other business ventures that were founded by McAfee include Tribal Voice, which developed one of the first instant messaging programs, PowWow. In 2000, he invested in and joined the board of directors of Zone Labs, makers of firewall software, prior to its acquisition by Check Point Software in 2003.
In August 2009, The New York Times reported that McAfee's personal fortune had declined to $4 million from a peak of $100 million due to the effect of the financial crisis of 2007–2008 on his investments.
In 2009, McAfee was interviewed in Belize for the CNBC special "The Bubble Decade," in which it was reported that he had invested in and/or built many mansions in the USA that went unsold when the 2007 global recession hit. The report also discussed his quest to produce plants for possible medicinal uses on his land in Belize.
In February 2010, McAfee started the company QuorumEx, headquartered in Belize, which aimed to produce herbal antibiotics that disrupt quorum sensing in bacteria.
In June 2013, McAfee uploaded a parody video titled How to Uninstall McAfee Antivirus onto his YouTube channel. In the video, McAfee criticized McAfee's antivirus software while snorting white powder, and being stroked and undressed by scantily clad women. The video has garnered over 10 million views. McAfee told Reuters that he made the video to ridicule the media's negative coverage of him. A spokesman for McAfee Inc. called the video's statements "ludicrous."
Also in 2013, McAfee started the company Future Tense Central, which aimed to produce a secure computer network device called the D-Central. By 2016, it was also serving as an incubator.
In February 2014, McAfee announced Cognizant, an application for smartphones, which displays information about the permissions of other installed applications. In April 2014, Cognizant was renamed DCentral 1, and an Android version of it was released for free on Google Play.
At the DEF CON conference in Las Vegas, Nevada, in August 2014, he warned Americans not to use smartphones, suggesting apps are used to spy on clueless consumers who do not read privacy user agreements.
In January 2016, he became the chief evangelist for security startup Everykey.
In February 2016, McAfee received media attention by publicly volunteering to decrypt the iPhone used by the San Bernardino shooters, avoiding the need for Apple to build a backdoor. McAfee later admitted that his claims of how simple cracking the phone would be were a publicity stunt, though he still claimed he could pull it off.
In May 2016, McAfee was appointed chief executive chairman and CEO of MGT Capital Investments, a technology holding company. The company initially stated that it would rename itself John McAfee Global Technologies, although this plan was abandoned due to a dispute with Intel over rights to the "McAfee" name. McAfee changed MGT's focus from social gaming to cybersecurity, stating in an interview that "anti-virus software is dead, it no longer works," and that "the new paradigm has to stop the hacker getting in" before they can do damage.
Soon after joining MGT, McAfee claimed that he and his team had exploited a flaw in the Android operating system that allowed him to read encrypted messages from WhatsApp. Gizmodo investigated these claims, and reported that McAfee had sent reporters malware-infected phones to make this hack work. McAfee responded to these accusations, writing: "Of course the phones had malware on them. How that malware got there is the story, which we will release after speaking with Google. It involves a serious flaw in the Android architecture."
McAfee also moved MGT into the mining of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, saying that it was intended both to make money for the company, and to increase MGT's expertise in dealing with blockchains, which he thought was important for cybersecurity.
In August 2017, McAfee stepped down as CEO, instead serving as MGT's "chief cybersecurity visionary." In January 2018, he left the company altogether. Both sides stated that the decision was amicable, with McAfee saying that he wanted to spend all of his time on cryptocurrencies, while the company stated that they were getting pressured by potential investors to disassociate themselves from McAfee.
On August 13, 2018, McAfee took a position of CEO with Luxcore, a cryptocurrency company focused on enterprise solutions.
McAfee was a libertarian, advocating the decriminalization of cannabis, an end to the war on drugs, non-interventionism in foreign policy, a free market economy which does not redistribute wealth, and upholding free trade. McAfee supported abolishing the Transportation Security Administration.
McAfee advocated increased cyber awareness, and more action against the threat of cyberwarfare.
McAfee advocated religious liberty, saying that business owners should be able to deny service in circumstances that contradict their religious beliefs, and: "No one is forcing you to buy anything or to choose one person over another. So why should I be forced to do anything if I am not harming you? It's my choice to sell, your choice to buy."
2016 presidential campaign
On September 8, 2015, McAfee announced that he would seek the office of President of the United States in the 2016 presidential election, as the candidate of a newly formed political party called the Cyber Party. On December 24, 2015, he re-announced his candidacy bid saying that he would instead seek the presidential nomination of the Libertarian Party. On the campaign trail, McAfee consistently polled among the top three presidential candidates for his party with his rivals Gary Johnson and Austin Petersen. The three candidates appeared in the Libertarian Party's first nationally televised presidential debate on March 29, 2016.
McAfee announced that his vice presidential choice would be the photographer, former commercial real estate broker, and Libertarian activist Judd Weiss.
McAfee was the runner-up in the primaries but came in third at the 2016 Libertarian National Convention.
- Adam Kokesh, talk show host and activist
- John Moore, Nevada assemblyman
- L. Neil Smith, science fiction author and activist
2020 presidential campaign
Contrary to his assertion at the 2016 convention, McAfee announced on June 3, 2018, via Twitter that he would run for president again in 2020, either with the Libertarian Party or under the banner of a party of his own creation. His main campaign issue was to promote the use of cryptocurrencies. He stated that he will either again seek the nomination of the Libertarian Party, or form his own party; he ultimately ran as a Libertarian.
On January 22, 2019, McAfee announced via Twitter that he would be continuing his campaign "in exile", following reports that he, his wife, and four of his campaign staff were being indicted for tax-related felonies by the IRS. McAfee indicated that he was in "international waters", and had previously tweeted that he was on his way to Venezuela. The IRS has not commented on the alleged indictments. On June 29, McAfee tweeted that his campaign headquarters had been relocated to Havana, Cuba. Around the same time, McAfee defended Communist revolutionary Che Guevara on Twitter, putting himself at odds with the Libertarian Party, with Libertarian National Committee chairman Nicholas Sarwark saying, "I hear very little buzz about McAfee this time around ... making a defense of Che Guevara from Cuba may ingratiate him with the Cuban government, but it didn't resonate well with Libertarians."
In a tweet, on March 4, 2020, McAfee simultaneously suspended his 2020 presidential campaign and announced his campaign for the Libertarian party vice presidential nomination. The next day, he returned to the presidential field, reversing the suspension of his bid, as "No one in the Libertarian Party Would [sic] consider me For Vice President." The next month, he endorsed Adam Kokesh; he simultaneously became Kokesh's vice-presidential candidate, though McAfee decided to also continue his campaign for the presidency. McAfee was again not nominated, losing to Jo Jorgensen and Spike Cohen for the vice-presidential slot.
McAfee contended that taxes were illegal, and claimed in 2019 that he had not filed a tax return since 2010. He referred to himself as being a "prime target" of the U.S. Internal Revenue Service.
In July 2017, McAfee wrote on Twitter that he predicted that the price of one bitcoin would jump to $500,000 within three years, and that "If not, I will eat my own dick on national television." In July 2019, he continued to defend a prediction of $1 million by the end of 2020. In January 2020, however, he stated on Twitter that his previous predictions were simply "A ruse to onboard new users", and that bitcoin had limited potential because it was "an ancient technology".
On April 30, 2012, McAfee's property in Orange Walk Town, Belize, was raided by the Gang Suppression Unit of the Belize Police Department. At that time, McAfee was in bed with a girlfriend. A GSU press release stated that McAfee was arrested for unlicensed drug manufacturing and possession of an unlicensed weapon. He was released without charge. In 2012, Belize police spokesman, Raphael Martinez, confirmed that McAfee was neither convicted nor charged, only suspected.
In January 2014, McAfee in Canada claimed that when the Belizean government raided his property, it seized his assets, and that his house later burned down under suspicious circumstances.
On August 2, 2015, McAfee was arrested in Henderson County, Tennessee, on one count of driving under the influence and one count of possession of a firearm while intoxicated.
In July 2019, McAfee and members of his entourage were arrested while his yacht was docked at Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic, on suspicion of carrying high-caliber weapons and ammunition. They were held for four days before being released.
On August 11, 2020, McAfee fabricated a hoax that he was arrested in Norway during the COVID-19 pandemic, after refusing to replace a lace thong with a more effective face mask. McAfee later posted a picture of himself to Twitter with a bruised eye, claiming that it occurred during this arrest. However, the photo of the alleged arrest shows an officer with the German word for "police" on their uniform, so it could not have been an arrest in Norway. The Augsburg Police later confirmed McAfee unsuccessfully attempted to enter Germany on that day, but was not arrested.
Murder of Gregory Faull
On November 12, 2012, Belize police started a search for McAfee as a "person of interest" in connection to the murder of American expatriate Gregory Viant Faull. Faull was found dead of a gunshot wound on November 11, 2012, at his home on the island of Ambergris Caye, the largest island in Belize. Faull was a neighbor of McAfee's. In a November 2012 interview with Wired, McAfee said that he has always been afraid police would kill him, and thus refused their routine questions; he has since evaded the Belizean authorities. Belize's prime minister, Dean Barrow, called McAfee "extremely paranoid, even bonkers." McAfee fled Belize when he was sought for questioning concerning the murder.
The magazine Vice accidentally gave away McAfee's location at a Guatemalan resort in early December 2012, when a photo taken by one of its journalists accompanying McAfee was posted with the EXIF geolocation metadata still attached. While in Guatemala, McAfee asked Chad Essley, an American cartoonist and animator, to set up a blog so that McAfee could write about his experience while on the run. McAfee then appeared publicly in Guatemala City, where he attempted to seek political asylum.
On December 5, 2012, McAfee was arrested for illegally entering Guatemala. Shortly afterward, he was placed under arrest, and a board to review McAfee's plea for asylum was formed. The committee denied his asylum, so he was taken from his holding facility to a detention center in order to await deportation to Belize.
On December 6, 2012, Reuters and ABC News reported that McAfee had two minor heart attacks in a Guatemalan detention center and was hospitalized. McAfee's lawyer stated that his client had not suffered heart attacks, but had instead suffered from high blood pressure and anxiety attacks. McAfee later said he had faked the heart attacks while being held in Guatemala, to buy time for his attorney to file a series of appeals that ultimately prevented his deportation to Belize, thus hastening the government's decision to send him back to the United States.
On December 12, 2012, McAfee was released from detention in Guatemala, and deported to the United States.
On November 14, 2018, the Circuit Court in Orlando, Florida, refused to dismiss a wrongful death lawsuit against McAfee for Faull's death.
U.S. finance charges, arrest in Spain and planned extradition
In January 2019, McAfee announced that he was on the run from U.S. authorities, and living internationally on a boat following the convening of a Grand Jury to indict him, his wife, and four of his 2020 Presidential campaign workers on tax-related charges. The IRS has not independently confirmed the existence of these charges.
On October 5, 2020, McAfee was arrested in Spain at the request of the U.S. Department of Justice for tax evasion. The indictment alleges he earned millions of dollars from 2014–18, but has failed to file income tax returns.
On October 6, 2020, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filed a complaint alleging that McAfee had fraudulently promoted certain ICOs. According to the SEC, McAfee presented himself as an impartial investor when he promoted the ICOs, despite the fact that he was allegedly paid $23 million in digital assets in exchange for the promotions.
On March 5, 2021, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York announced that they had formally indicted McAfee and an executive adviser for allegedly fraudulently promoting certain cryptocurrencies and performing pump and dump schemes. McAfee was incarcerated in Spain, pending extradition to the United States.
On June 23, 2021, the Spanish National Court authorized the extradition of McAfee to the United States, though he died shortly after.
The night after McAfee arrived in the United States after being deported from Guatemala in December 2012, he was solicited by Janice Dyson, then a prostitute in South Beach (Miami Beach). The two spent the night together. Despite Dyson being more than 30 years McAfee's junior, McAfee and Dyson subsequently began a relationship, and married in 2013.
McAfee originally took up residence in Portland, Oregon, in 2013.
In a 2012 article in Mensa Bulletin, the magazine of American Mensa, McAfee stated that being the developer of the first commercial anti-virus program had made him "the most popular hacking target," confiding that "Hackers see hacking me as a badge of honor." He added that for his own security, he had other people buy his computer equipment for him, used pseudonyms for setting up computers and logging in, and changed his IP address several times a day. When asked on another occasion if he personally used McAfee's antivirus software, McAfee replied: "I take it off," and that "It's too annoying."
In 2013, McAfee claimed that the former cocaine baron "Boston" George Jung was writing his official biography, No Domain.
On February 8, 2018, McAfee claimed to reside in Lexington, Tennessee.
On June 23, 2021, McAfee was found dead in his Barcelona prison cell in Brians 2 Penitentiary Center, hours after the Spanish National Court approved of his extradition to the United States on tax evasion charges. The Catalan Justice Department said in a statement that "everything indicates" McAfee killed himself.
In the media
Gringo: The Dangerous Life of John McAfee is a Showtime Networks documentary about the portion of McAfee's life spent in Belize. It began airing in September 2016. The documentary covers allegations of both the rape of McAfee's former business partner, Allison Adonizio, and the murders of Belizean David Middleton and American expat Gregory Faull. In an interview with Bloomberg's Pimm Fox and Kathleen Hayes on September 8, 2016, McAfee claimed that these incidents were fabricated, saying that "Belize is a third-world banana republic and you can go down there and make any story you want if you pay your interviewees, which Showtime did."
In March 2017, it was reported that Glenn Ficarra and John Requa would direct a film about McAfee titled King of the Jungle, with a script by Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski. At various points, Johnny Depp, Michael Keaton, and Seth Rogen were reported to have been signed to roles in the film and later to have left the project. In November 2019, Zac Efron was reported to be starring in the film.
On May 12, 2017, McAfee was interviewed on ABC's 20/20 regarding the alleged murder of his neighbor, Greg Faull. McAfee's wife, Janice, was interviewed in the segment as well.
- (written with Colin Haynes) Computer Viruses, Worms, Data Diddlers, Killer Programs, and Other Threats to Your System. What They Are, how They Work, and how to Defend Your PC, Mac, Or Mainframe, St. Martin's Press, 1989
- The Secret of the Yamas. Spiritual Guide to Yoga, McAfee Pub, 2001
- The Fabric Of Self: Meditations on Vanity and Love, Woodland Publications, 2001
- Into the Heart of Truth, Woodland Publications, 2001
- Beyond the Siddhis. Supernatural Powers and the Sutras of Patanjali, Woodland Publications, 2001