Sourcefire Aquisition – Now competitor in the cloud based anti-virus market

Sourcefire Acquires Cloud-based Anti-virus Maker Immunet for USD 21 Million

Cybersecurity solutions provider Sourcefire has acquired Immunet, a cloud-based anti-virus start-up, in a deal worth USD 21 million, the two companies said in a press release. Massachusetts-based Sourcefire is to pay initial USD 17 million in cash while the rest of the sum will be paid within 18 months following continuing development of enterprise version of Immunet’s product. Immunet’s founders Oliver Friedrichs, Alfred Huger and Adam O’Donnell are expected to retain their positions with the company.

Immunet utilizes its Collective Immunity™ technology that does not require downloads to fight viruses and malware attacking computer systems worldwide and employed about 10 people prior to the acquisition. In the past, Altos Ventures and TechOperators invested USD 2 million in the company while a number of individual angel investors also arranged funding for Immunet.

“The next year (2011, editor’s note) will be very exciting – Sourcefire is committed to fully supporting Immunet products moving forward (Immunet Protect Free and Immunet Protect Plus), and we, as the newly formed Cloud Technology Group, within Sourcefire will be there to do it.  We’ll be the same team, just in a larger company.” Oliver Friedrichs, founder of Immunet, said in a blog post on the company’s website.

At present, some 750,000 users in 192 countries take advantage of Immunet’s cloud-based anti-virus solutions and Sourcefire’s CEO John Burris insisted that the deal will put Sourcefire in a position to compete with traditional anti-virus and anti-malware vendors like Symantec, McAfee, Avira and AVG. The acquisition of Immunet will allow Sourcefire to leave anti-virus signatures in the cloud utilizing threat information-sharing platform based on Sourcefire’s Snor product, Clam A/V and Sourcefire’s Razorback project, Martin Roesch, Sourcefire founder, added.

It is unclear whether Sourcefire will bet on Immunet’s free anti-virus or will develop a new paid version of the product. At present, Immunet offers free and paid versions of the cloud-based anti-virus software called Immunet Protect Free and Immunet Protect Plus, respectively. However the number of paid subscribers is not significant, Burris admitted without elaborating. An enterprise version of the product is expected in late 2011, Greg Fitzgerald, senior vice president of Sourcefire, added.

Immunet’s product does not require virus updates due to its cloud-based technology providing real-time scanning for viruses. Immunet Protect is also compatible with other anti-virus products installed on end-user machines. The company was founded in 2008 by Oliver Friedrichs who has amazing experience in acquisitions of software start-ups by well-established companies. He was co-founder of SecurityFocus which was acquired by Symantec in 2002 and co-founded Secure Networks, a start-up acquired by McAfee in 1998.

Sourcefire acquisition appetite was encouraged by the highest revenue in its corporate history posted in the third quarter of 2010. Revenues stood at USD 36.2 million in the third quarter of 2010 compared to USD 27.4 a year ago, while in the first nine months of 2010 the company’s revenues grew to USD 92.6 million compared to USD 68.2 million for the same period of 2009, a company’s statement reads. The company’s cash, cash equivalents and investments totaled USD 142.6 million as of September 30, 2010.

The company expects to post revenue in the range of USD $129.6 million to USD 131.1 million for the whole fiscal 2010, while expecting net income per share in the range of USD 0.67 to USD 0.69 and adjusted net income per share in the range of USD 0.52 to USD 0.54. Market analysts reacted with caution to the news for the acquisition of Immunet by Sourcefire and most experts are recommending “hold” for Sourcefire’s stock.

By Kiril Kirilov

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