How Marcin Kleczynski went from message boards to founding anti-malware startup Malwarebytes

Marcin Kleczynski is a shining example of the American dream.

A Polish-born immigrant turned naturalized citizen, Kleczynski grew up in the Chicago suburbs spending much of his time on computers and the early days of the world wide web. He couldn’t afford to buy computer games; instead, he downloaded them from the internet — and usually malware along with it. Frustrated that his computer’s anti-malware didn’t prevent the infection, he took to seeking help from security message boards to troubleshoot and remove the malware by hand.

That’s where Kleczynski thought he could do better, and so he founded Malwarebytes .

In early 2008, his company’s first anti-malware product was released. To no surprise, the very people on the message boards who helped Kleczynski recover his computer were the same championing his debut software. So much so that Kleczynski hired one of the people from the message board who helped him rid the malware from his computer as one of his first employees. Within months, Malwarebytes was turning over a couple of hundred thousand dollars, Kleczynski told TechCrunch.

By August came the question of whether he would run his company or go to university.

“After about a 15-second conversation with my mother, she quickly informed me that I would be attending university,” he said.

And so he did both.

Fast-forward to today, the company is a multi-million dollar anti-malware giant serving 150 million consumer customers and 50,000 paying small to medium-sized business and enterprise customers from its five offices — two in the U.S., as well as Estonia, Ireland and Singapore.