John McAfee has been in the news for some strange reasons. We take a look at the intriguing life of John McAfee, founder of the computer security biggie McAfee and try to understand the good, the bad and the ugly side of this eccentric computer programmer. Even at first glance, there’s nothing geeky about this man – he doesn’t look like one and certainly does not behave like one. That he created a marvelous anti-virus and is easily a legend in that regard, one cannot quite stereotype him.
Of late, he’s been in the news because the police have been wanting to question him over the murder of his neighbor. But he’s been on the run and is purportedly hiding in Belize. He’s screaming out loud that he’s innocent, yet his sudden run isn’t painting a good picture in the eyes of law enforcement agencies. Nearing the age of 70 in a few years, the 67-year-old has spent nearly 20 years of his life in a series of experimentation – drugs, sex, extreme sports, and manipulating the media.
The Eureka moment
He started off his professional life in the 1980s working as a software engineer at Lockheed Martin. That was the time computer viruses had started coming into the picture and spread around the world affecting many computing systems. His machine wasn’t spared as it was attacked by a virus called Pakistani Brain. The virus attack slowed down floppy drives on his machine and took away 7KB space from the computer’s memory. John McAfee resolved the issue by himself and struck upon the idea to create software that could detect such viruses and remove them from the computers.
Misleading for profit
His Eureka moment may have been entirely accidental but, by the end of the 80s, his idea sparked the rise of the billion-dollar anti-virus industry and he shot to fame. Year 1992 saw the emergence of a new virus, Michelangelo, which McAfee went on to describe to the media as being capable of crippling up to five million machines worldwide on March 6. The day passed on uneventfully, but it was a major cause of worry within the IT world. Following this incident, even though his company managed to make millions of dollars of profit, his reputation took a severe beating.
McAfee’s firm went public in 1994 and he was subsequently let go off, with the company handing him a check of $100 million. He left Silicon Valley and used this money to invest in several other successful businesses. He also purchased 400 acres of land in Colorado and made a yoga retreat there.
Going the hippy way
Similar to Steve Jobs, McAfee had also experienced the hippy culture when traveling through India and Nepal. He encouraged many strange cultures like pagan drums on his company property. There were also reports of how employees in his company competed to have sex in his office. According to a former yoga student at his retreat, McAfee loved being the center of attention and being able to control the people under him with his financial power.
A perilous life
McAfee went on to write numerous yoga books and date a teenage girl, many years his junior. Shortly after that, he moved to a plush ranch in New Mexico, where he developed a new extreme sport that he called aerotrekking. Aerotrekking required people to fly a microlight dangerously low over the vast deserts. He even managed to convince a small town in Arizona that wasn’t a fan of the loud noise from the sport that they would be engulfed by a national paintball convention. This statement and many others like a convention of national organization of lesbian bikers that he created successfully distracted the locals who were opposed to his aerotrekking activities.
McAfee had to end his aerotrekking venture after a novice died in a crash in 2006, and he faced a multi-million dollar lawsuit alleging wrongful death. There are reports that this was also one of the reasons for McAfee to move to Belize in 2009. He claimed in a New York Times article that bad property deals and the crash of Lehman Brothers had left him with just $4 million of his fortune.
Belize and McAfee
McAfee’s activities in Belize added to his controversial image where he claimed to be working on developing revolutionary antibiotics. McAfee also boasted of his dealings with local gang lords and about his stockpile of unlicensed firearms. His recently published online diary, “Darkness Falls”, sheds some light into the twisted living arrangements at Belize. He talks about how two of his ex-lovers still continue to reside in the same complex, along with their current lovers, and how he shares his bed with five other women regularly.
His downfall and all his shady activities came to light in May 2012, following a police raid on his property and his subsequent arrest on suspected creation of crystal meth and possession of an unlicensed weapon. McAfee, however, continued to maintain that he was innocent.
He claimed that the police came after him after he refused to make a donation to a local politician. He also claimed that he had donated nearly $2 million in the form of gifts to the police department. McAfee then went on to admit that his claim back in 2009 about his dwindling fortune being worth only $4 million was incorrect. According to McAfee, he had created a topical antiseptic drug that the police had mistaken to be crystal meth.
More allegations continue to emerge about McAfee, the latest being that he regularly contributed to a drug makers’ forum, calling himself “stuffmonger”. There were posts about how he had been trying to extract a “super perv powder” called MDPV which he had been testing on himself. This drug, he claimed, was perfect for “hypersexuality and a smooth euphoria”.
Currently, McAfee remains hiding at an undisclosed location in Belize with his 17-year old girlfriend, and denies that he had any role in his neighbor’s murder. He also claims that a paramilitary hit squad is trying to track him to kill him. McAfee admits that there was no love lost between the two neighbors, but denies that he had anything to do with the neighbor’s killing just because they were annoyed with each other.