McAfee Goes deep with Richard Branson on Steve Jobs at Focus in Las Vegas

McAfee held its annual Focus event in Las Vegas this week.

The conference offered the first real chance for the security company to showcase its products in a post-acquisition world.

We got a hint of this at Intel’s Developer Forum (IDF) a few weeks ago, but it clearly was put-up or shut-up time and the partners came through with Deep Command and Deep Defender. Both products could initially revolutionize PC security and provide Intel with a core weapon in Santa Clara’s quest to be successful in the lucrative smartphone and tablet markets.  

Sir Richard Branson spoke at Focus, illustrating what differentiates him from Jobs and how he is living up to that old commercial Steve did on the Crazy Ones” that once featured Branson

Personally, what I find fascinating is the stark contrast between the two men. While Jobs was amazing, Branson is living an absolutely amazing life and doing far more to change the world. I really wish the guy could and would run for president, but that’s obviously a whole different story. 

McAfee Goes Deep With Intel

At IDF, McAfee and Intel launched DeepSafe, which was described as a joint venture to redesign the standard chipset and create an effective security platform. The reason? Numerous exploits are appearing in the “zero day” category, meaning the time between discovery of an exposure and it being exploited has dropped to real time. 

In short, the industry no longer has days, weeks, or even months to address a known problem. Clearly,  a different approach is desperately needed: one that can be implemented in hardware and behave like a separate security structure – operating outside of the operating system and applications so it can’t be as easily attacked.  

At Focus, McAfee introduced two products: Deep Command which, when connected to Intel’s AMT technology branded vPro, could provide a comprehensive management security solution; and Deep Defender, a virtualized security solution which ties in tightly to Deep Safe.

While much of this applies to the corporate PC market, there are certainly aspects of Deep Defender which could be used to better secure consumer desktops. Indeed, Deep Defender loads before the OS and runs as a virtual machine. As such, it can monitor the health of the OS and applications, while remaining immune to anything the user loads or other (known) exploits. In short, it can detect any change that seems questionable, alert the user or the business, and help take remedial action. The end result? A uniquely secure desktop.  

What makes this technology critical is that mobile devices are increasingly becoming a target for cybercriminals and nefarious malware. The above-mentioned products could definitely give Intel an advantage as it attempts to claim smartphone and tablet market share. Buying McAfee was a gamble, but it appears to be paying off. 

Branson vs. Jobs

Sir Richard Branson is a big fan of Steve Jobs and his legacy, but clearly isn’t enamored with his unique management style. Like Jobs did, Branson shares a deep connection to his brands and products, but maintains a very different view of how a company should be run, especially when it comes to balancing personal and business life. 

Branson is a heavy delegator and sticks to one primary rule: don’t do anything that you’d be embarrassed to see in the newspaper. In contrast, Jobs was a micromanager and put winning pretty much ahead of anything else. Branson’s partnerships are legendary, and Jobs was known as the guy folks rarely partnered with twice. Similarly, Branson, like Steve, has absolutely no tolerance for anyone taking advantage of him.

Although Branson is personally aggressive with philanthropy and makes it part of his company culture, Jobs discontinued such efforts when he took control of Apple and Tim Cook only recently reinstated them.  

In the end, managing Apple as tightly as he did was incredibly stressful for Jobs, and stress is often connected to what caused him to pass. In contrast, Branson manages 400 companies and his approach is far less stressful. This allows him to do utterly amazing things like Virgin Galactic – which is his personal effort to commercialize space and drive significant research into alternative fuels, all while living on private islands and having time for amazing adventures. 

What I found incredibly interesting is that Branson actually offered one of the best ideas in terms of dealing with unemployment in the US: encourage “job sharing” so people who need more hours with their families can take time off, while those who are unemployed could at least find some part time work. As strange as this sounds, it seems better than anything either pary in the U.S. has come up with so far.  

To sum it up, while Jobs epitomized dedication, focus and personal involvement, Branson illustrates the importance of having a life and helping to save the planet. I tend to think both lessons are important, but were I to favor one approach, well, it would definitely be Branson’s.

Wrapping Up:  Life Lessons

As I leave Focus, it seems as if I learned a number of new life lessons. McAfee and Intel showcased how to take a major risk, clinch a merger, and execute it in a way that benefited both firms. Richard Branson proved that you can design amazing products, have an amazing life, and still be more effective at creating a better world than any politician. Then again, perhaps I am glad he can’t run for U.S. President, because he likely he would be less successful in such a thankless job.

In the end, I wish I could be more like Richard Branson. The fact that the profits from his airlines are funding research of alternative fuels – which could help save the planet – makes me glad I’m flying home on Virgin America.