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Thought Leaders in Cyber Security: Ondrej Vlcek, CEO of Avast (Part 4)

Posted on Tuesday, Aug 27th 2019

Sramana Mitra: What else do you want to highlight in this conversation?

Ondrej Vlcek: I saw the article that you wrote about three years ago when you were interviewing our previous CEO. That was a pretty thorough interview on various parts of our history. This was written four years ago. Maybe it will be good to give you some updates.

Sramana Mitra: Absolutely.

Ondrej Vlcek: I actually read that interview this morning. It’s pretty fresh in my memory. At that time, we were about 300 people and $300 million in revenue. That’s ancient news. Right now, we are much bigger than that.

In the beginning, I said we got about 1,700 people. The revenue is well over $800 million. Not all of it is organic because one of the big things that we did shortly after the interview was we acquired our long-time rival AVG. That was in the summer of 2016.

AVG was a company of roughly similar size. They were not as profitable as us, but they had more people than us. The acquiree had more people than the acquirer. As you can imagine, integration was not easy. Maintaining your culture and values where you’re outnumbered is a pretty big undertaking. We did that. I have to say that the acquisition, from today’s perspective, was a very successful one.

We managed to not only meet our objectives in terms of synergies, but we also succeeded in integrating the cultures and teams. Today, three years later, people hardly even think about whether they come from the old Avast or old AVG. They are working as one coherent team.

Every such transaction is really risky. We managed to do it well. AVG doubled our size overnight. In 2017, we were integrating. The core product was integrated in 100 days after the acquisition. The whole company rallied behind this goal and delivered. The fact that we succeeded in time was a very important milestone for the success of the combined organization.

In 2018, the big thing was the IPO. We were deciding whether to list in the US or UK. There were a couple of reasons why we chose the UK. First of all, we’re a European company. It’s closer to us. That wasn’t the only reason.

The biggest reason was that our profile didn’t match the typical US IPO these days. We are a more mature company than what you would see in US IPOs. Typically, US tech IPOs would be a company between $100 million and $200 million in revenue with no profit margin. They’re usually growing 30% to 50% annually.

Our profile is much larger revenue of $800 million. We had a market-leading profit margin. We were growing in high single-digits. We were more mature. You get more appreciation based on those parameters in London than you do in New York.

This segment is part 4 in the series : Thought Leaders in Cyber Security: Ondrej Vlcek, CEO of Avast
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