If you're reading this article on a desktop computer, there's a very good chance that you are running some version of McAfee's anti-virus software. McAfee is the world's largest anti-virus company and was purchased by Intel for $7.7 billion in August 2010. John McAfee, the founder and namesake of the company, must be an extremely wealthy guy, right? He's probably a multi-billionaire who rubs elbows with guys like Mark Zuckerberg and Larry Ellision. Wrong. Not only did John McAfee blow through his entire fortune, today police in Belize announced that he is the prime suspect in the murder of a fellow expat named Gregory Faull. The police also claim McAfee is a meth dealing drug kingpin. So how did John McAfee's life go so wrong? Keep reading to find out…
John McAfee founded his self-named software company in 1987. By the early 1990s McAfee had grown into the largest anti-virus company in the world. McAfee's strategy of giving the software away for free then charging for technical support and upgrades blew away all the competition and changed the software industry in general forever. In 1994, while his company was dominating, John was growing bored, so he stepped down as CEO and sold all of his shares for $100 million. While this may have seemed like a good idea at the time, McAfee's business continued to grow at an explosive pace, even after the dotcom bubble burst in the early 2000s. If John McAfee had held onto his shares until the 2010 $7.7 billion Intel acquisition, his stake would have made him a multi-billionaire.
After leaving his company, McAfee went on a shopping spree. He purchased a five acre oceanfront mansion in Hawaii, a 10 person Cessna private jet, a 157 acre ranch in New Mexico that contained a 35-person movie theater, artwork and dozens of luxury cars. He also poured $25 million of his cash into building a 10,000 square foot, 280 acre, estate in Colorado which would be his primary home base. To diversify his portfolio away from real estate, McAfee also purchased millions of dollars worth of Lehman Brothers bonds. After Lehman Brothers declared bankruptcy in October 2008, his investment became worthless and McAfee realized he was nearly out of cash. He was forced to sell as many assets as possible, at what might have been the worst time in history. His $25 million Colorado estate fetched just $5.7 million. The Hawaiian mansion was dumped for $1.5 million. When it was all said and done, John McAfee, who was once worth over $100 million and blew the chance to be worth several billion, was down to just $4 million.
$4 million is still a lot of money, but if you were once worth over $100 million and could have been worth $2 billion, it might be harder to take. Therefore in 2009, McAfee relocated to Belize where $4 million would go a lot further. He purchased this waterfront bungalow compound and began dating a 17 year old local girl (the age of consent in Belize is 16):
McAfee's time in Belize has been nothing like the paradise you would imagine. He attempted to launch a new age pharmaceutical company but at some point local police began to suspect that the former dotcom king was actually manufacturing methamphetamine and an ultra potent strand of bath salts. When police raided his house in May 2012 they found dozens of guns and threw McAfee in jail for a night. Fast forward five months to today when authorities in Belize announced that John McAfee is the prime suspect in the murder of a fellow expat named Gregory Faull. McAfee is now on the run from police, but with limited access to resources and lack of passport (it was confiscated during his May arrest), McAfee faces a monumental challenge. We'll keep you posted as new information comes in but this truly is one of the most shocking and sad stories of a man who by all means should be a billionaire king of the world today. Not a nearly broke fugitive murder suspect in Belize.
***Update*** McAfee professed his innocence when he was reached via cell phone for comment today. He claims that the he is being set up by the Prime Minister and police of Belize who want him dead: "They've been trying to get me for months. They want to silence me. I am not well liked by the prime minister. I am just a thorn in everybody's side. They mistook him [Gregory Faull] for me. They got the wrong house. He's dead. They killed him."