John McAfee The Rise And Fall Of A Genius (Explained)

The seventy-five-year-old creator of the famous McAfee antivirus software had supposedly killed himself in a Spanish prison cell on 23rd June. John McAfee could compare his life story to a captivating novel; one could earn millions by selling a script on his life to a Hollywood movie producer. He had an abusive relationship with his parents when he was a child. His father also committed suicide when MacAfee was very young. He was addicted to drugs and alcohol. Lastly, there were rumours that he was in a relationship with various underage girls. However, despite his bad reputation, he was a techno-genius who owned a multibillion-dollar antivirus software company. Later, during the pandemic, he ended up in Jail and committed suicide in 2021.

Also Read: Legal Tech: Innovating Law With Digital Solutions

Origins Of The ‘Eccentric’ Engineer

The legendry British-American programmer was born in Gloucestershire in the UK on September 18th, 1945. His family soon shifted to Roanoke, Virginia, when he was born. His childhood was never easy. His father was a drunkard and used to abuse his son mercilessly for years until his father shot himself with a gun in 1961. The death of his father haunted the fifteen-year-old John for years.

He had started his career in NASA during the most thrilling and exciting times of history- the first moon landing.  Later he had worked for Univac, Xerox and Booz Allen Hamilton when he had developed an addiction to drugs. Eventually, the company called Omex fired him because his habits become very serve. The joblessness gave him the wake-up call, and he decided to join Alcoholics Anonymous and sobered up.

After that, he joined a US defence contractor at Lockheed Martin as a programmer. Once when creating a classified voice-recognition software, he learnt about the ability of a system to autonomously duplicate itself onto any floppy disc that code put into it. The code was named a virus. This incident gave ‘the godfather of antivirus’ an extraordinary idea of creating antivirus software. McAfee realized once that as computers machines demand would increase slowly, the threat of viruses attacking the computer would also increase.

The Making Of An Tech Entrepreneur

Hence, in 1987, John made his antivirus empire, McAfee Associates, which made him earn millions and gave him a stable lifestyle. The reason McAfee did great amongst its competitors was that it had a very innovative marketing strategy. He used to sell his products for free but charged for upgrades and technical assistance. But, the wild child of silicon valley was not satisfied and wanted more hence in 1993, he stepped down as a chief executive and finally, in 1994, he sold all his shares of the company and decided to pursue his other interests. However, this did not help him fulfil his agenda but instead landed him in tabloids and controversies.

He was unsuccessful in recreating the success he had achieved through his antivirus start-up. However, he experimented with various companies that serve his passion, ranging from an instant messaging platform to herbal medicines, secure computer network equipment, to Bitcoin mining. This was also the time where he had faced a huge financial loss of his wealth in 2007. In the year 2008, after facing a huge loss, he decided to shift to Belize and leave his lavish lifestyle. But this was not the end of his controversial lifestyle; the media never stopped chasing him. He was in the headlines for issues such as having assaulted his microbiologist, his affair with a sixteen-year-old prostitute or his unconventional romantic relationship with a woman who tried to kill him.

Four years later, McAfee decided to flee from Belize as he was under suspicion that he had murdered his neighbour Gregory Faull, as his neighbour despised his lifestyle. While being chased by the authorities, he constantly appeared on social media with his erratic posts and videos because he wanted to make sure he never disappears if he lands up in prison one day.

Troubles Ahead of McAfee

There was a period in McAfee life where he was engrossed with cryptocurrencies. He had landed into many troubles with authorities, and the paparazzi found one more controversy related to McAfee.  But due to this, he also found a new interest in politics. In 2016 and 2020, he aspired to be elected by the Libertarian Party for President of the United States. But he had failed miserably. In his campaigns, he mainly focused on cyberwarfare and the reasons one should prepare for it. He had portrayed himself as a cybersecurity genius preaching about the dangers of cyberhackers. Other than that, he also made a paid appearance for new channels and conferences.

After failing in his 2016 campaign, he did not give up and announced in 2018 that he would run for President again for 2020. However, in 2019, rumours revealed, he was being probed by the authorities for tax evasion together with his wife and other few members of his presidential campaign. A sane nominee for the post of US president wouldn’t have done what McAfee did in this case. He fled from the authorities and relocated his office at Havana, Cuba, and pledged to continue his presidential campaigns by deploying hundreds of masked lookalikes. But in October 2020, he was finally caught by authorities in Spain and was arrested and imprisoned.

The Tragic End of John McAfee

Finally, authorities had McAfee imprisoned in Spain after fleeing for four straight years for tax returns, and they had concealed all his properties, assets and yachts, which were under other people’s names forged by him. However, this was not the end of his alleged crimes. In March 2021, the authorities had accused John and his bodyguard of devising a scheme to deceive cryptocurrency investors for more than a million dollars.

Alleged Pump and Dump Scheme by John McAfee (2018)

Police said that John purchased vast amounts of low-cost cryptocurrency and then advertised them on Twitter with “false and deceptive endorsement messages” to boost their market values. His clout was such that a single tweet to his 1 million followers caused the price of one cryptocurrency to jump by 50 to 350%. The US authorities added fraud and money laundering charges to this list, saying that McAfee and a business partner defrauded investors of more than $13 million by fraudulently touting cryptocurrencies.

On June 23rd, Spain National Court approved his extradition to the US even though he resisted being extradited. After few hours of the court’s announcement, Authorities found him hanged in his prison cell. As soon as his news of death went viral, social media went crazy. The tweet of December 1st, 2019, from his account was made viral by his admirers. In the tweet, it was written that “If I suicide myself, I didn’t. I was whackd.”

Default image
Sarawgi Sanjana
Articles: 4

Leave a Reply