The Jeff Wise Blog

My Strange Journey With Antivirus Guru John McAfee

As I stepped from the rickety wooden dock onto John McAfee’s motorboat, I felt like I was in a scene straight out of Heart of Darkness. Here I was, a visitor in a strange land, embarking on a journey up a tropical river in search of the truth about a larger-than-life figure living in self-imposed exile.

“Are we going to find Kurtz?” I joked.

McAfee laughed and gunned the engine. The mood turned more Apocalypse Now, as he cranked the boat up Belize’s twisting New River, our wake surging through the mangrove roots on the bank. Every quarter mile or so the unmarked channel forked, and McAfee assured me that if we took the wrong one we would wind up in Guatemala, hopelessly lost, or else stuck for good, with no way out except to wade mile after mile through nearly impenetrable, crocodile-infested swamp.

Only later would I realize just how truly Kurtz-like the mission had already become. On that day, what had started out as a sympathetic profile for Fast Company would slowly evolve into something more like a take-down, as I realized that McAfee’s position in Belize was much more compromised than I had imagined. Finally I understood why he had kept asking–playfully, I had thought–whether my story was going to be an expose. As the facts emerged, it became clear that I would have to write just that.

What I still don’t understand is whether an expose was what he wanted all along. Did he, like Kurtz, crave the blade? He had, after all, kept bringing up the idea of the expose. And he kept scattering clues of dark import in my path. But why? Was it that he craved the publicity? Was he diverting my attention away from something else? Or did he have some other plan altogether? Given that the subject is an avowed prankster like John McAfee, we may never know the whole truth.

Read the story here.

Follow me on Twitter: @extremefear.

Filed under: Business

12 Responses

  1. An anti-virus guru can’t fight off crocodiles.
    Nice looking boat, are those solar panels ontop?
    Now I know where businessmen do business, in the middle of nowhere! Must have been talking about the details of Mcafee 2011 security suit ehh. Tell him his AV messed up bad by subduing innocent Commercial XP system files.

    That left an extremely bad taste in the mouths of IT pros.

    Remain.Simple

  2. ramonakent says:

    This sounds pretty adventurous…

  3. emgepandeka says:

    The horror… the horror…

  4. Breland Kent says:

    Interesting…Thanks for sharing🙂

  5. Lionel says:

    This paper is very interresting ! Thank you

  6. Vishvesh says:

    Was he testing anti-crocodiles hardware in a crocodile-infested swamp?

  7. 101 says:

    Isn’t he searching the jungle for Female Viagra?

  8. I love to take him with me on a nice journey to Indian Jungle (Mysore). My PC is giving me lots of virus trouble. I might get his help to clean up the mess in return.

  9. Kris says:

    Fab read! Thanks for posting!

  10. Frank says:

    Certainly the poster child of the anti-virus industry… I imagine this story brings hope to every poorly paid, mis managed software developer. Lol

  11. I love McAfee and I think it’s cool that you got to interview him. However, the joke about Guatemala…not cool!

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Thinking About Fear & the Brain

If I find myself in a severe crisis, will I be able to keep it together? How can I control anxiety and panic? Is it possible to lead a life less bounded by fear? These are the sorts of questions that I'll be exploring in this blog, an offshoot of my book, Extreme Fear: The Science of Your Mind in Danger, published on December 8, 2009 by Palgrave Macmillan.

Video Introduction

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