Security Software Firm Avast Gets CVC Capital Investment, Now Valued At $1B

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The rise in malware and online security threats continues to give a big boost to companies that are looking for ways to make the connected world a bit safer. Avast, one of the bigger PC and mobile security software firms that competes against the likes of Microsoft, Symantec and McAfee (Intel) for consumer and enterprise business, today announced a major investment: CVC Capital Partners, the private equity firm, is putting in an investment of an unspecified amount that values Avast at $1 billion. It will be using the investment to continue growing its product base and also to further more U.S. expansion for the company originally founded in Prague.

“AVAST is the undisputed global leader in consumer PC antivirus and a pacesetter in mobile security – but we’re not yet number one in every market,” said Vince Steckler, CEO of AVAST, in a statement. “CVC gives us the resources to become the number one PC security provider in the US and Asia, and the clear market leader in mobile security.”

According to the latest figures from Opswat, which scans and tests networks, Avast is currently the number-two antivirus provider in the market, with a 15.9% share. Microsoft is in first place with a 23% share. Overall the security market in 2014 is projected to be worth just under $80 billion.

We are trying to find out the full amount of the investment and will update this post as we learn more. Reports of the investment have been circulating for about a week before today. (Update: Avast is not disclosing the exact amount invested.)

The investment comes on the heels of a $100 million round led by Summit Partners in 2010, and a spate of consolidation and investment in the security industry. Most recently, AirWatch was acquired by VMWare for $1.54 billion. Summit remains a shareholder in Avast.

Avast is not exactly a startup: it has been around for 25 years already, originally starting in Prague and now co-headquartered in Redwood City, CA.

Avast says that its antivirus software — which is available both in free and paid versions — is installed by over 200 million users covering 40 languages. The PC security product alone covers 170 million devices, while its newer mobile business covers some 40 million Android devices. Other Avast products include SafeZone (for online transactions); avast! EasyPass (for password storage) and avast! BackUp (a cloud backup). avast! Secureline VPN secures any public WiFi and makes your browsing anonymous, and its Browser Cleanup deletes unwanted toolbars and plugins. The latest in this suite is GrimeFighter, a PC optimisation and clean-up utility to rid a device of the small bots that might slow it down.

It’s the added services on top of the basic antivirus offerings that CVC and Avast believe will be what helps it grow longer-term, so expect to see more of that coming out.

“We are thrilled to be partnering with AVAST and its outstanding management team to support their strategic vision for the company,” said Lorne Somerville, Partner and Head of TMT at CVC Capital Partners, and Siddharth Patel, Managing Director, TMT, at CVC Capital Partners, in a statement. “AVAST’s focus on customer experience, best-in-class technology and rapid growth in mobile set it apart from any other security software company. Furthermore, we firmly believe in its ability to offer more and more to its 200 million users, driven by the philosophy that its free products should be better than the paid products offered by others. We look forward to joining the founders and Summit Partners as we support the company through its next exciting phase of growth.”

Photo: Flickr