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Building a Unicorn from Prague: Avast CEO Vince Steckler (Part 3)

Posted on Sunday, Aug 9th 2015

Sramana Mitra: How much were they doing at that point?

Vince Steckler: In 2008, they did about $18 million in revenue.

Sramana Mitra: This was all self-financed?

Vince Steckler: Yes. The company had actually never taken any investment into its treasury. The company, by the way, is a Unicorn. We’re worth well over a billion dollars. They were doing $18 million in 2008 and this year, will do about $300 million. They did meet with some VCs. They found one VC who told them three things. One, don’t diversify your business. Two, you don’t need an investor, which is strange coming from a VC.

Sramana Mitra: Strange and true actually. I’m amazed to see that level of integrity.

Vince Steckler: Yes. Third, which is always a tough message for founders to hear, is they needed a CEO. They took that message to heart actually. They hired a recruitment agency to find themselves a CEO. They went to Germany and interviewed 18 people that the recruitment agency found. They like to say that 17 of those weren’t even qualified to run Munich as a geography let alone a whole company. The 18th one they liked, but he was retired and didn’t want to go back to work. He had been my boss from Symantec. He knew I was leaving Symantec so he put us in touch.

Sramana Mitra: That’s how you got connected.

Vince Steckler: That’s how I got connected. I went and talked with them and found that it was a real diamond in the rough. It was an engineering-oriented company. It had a very geeky but very good product.

Sramana Mitra: How many people were there at that time?

Vince Steckler: 40 people.

Sramana Mitra: All in Prague?

Vince Steckler: All in Prague. We now have about 700.

Sramana Mitra: In Prague?

Vince Steckler: We will end the year with about 700. We have over 600 right now. Maybe, 550 in Prague. Most of the rest are in the US and Asia.

Sramana Mitra: I’m going to be in Prague in December.

Vince Steckler: You should stop by. It’s a little cold in December. You’re going for a holiday?

Sramana Mitra: Yes.

Vince Steckler: In the holiday season?

Sramana Mitra: Actually, early in December.

Vince Steckler: If you go a little bit later once the Christmas markets up, it’s a beautiful city.

Sramana Mitra: The Christmas market is on around then, isn’t it? December 9th or 10th.

Vince Steckler: Yes, it will be up. It’s beautiful with a massive tree in the town square. It’s gorgeous.

This segment is part 3 in the series : Building a Unicorn from Prague: Avast CEO Vince Steckler
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