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the eccentric life of the antivirus creator

This Wednesday, the Catalan prison authorities reported that they had found the lifeless body of John McAfee, 75 years old, in Brians 2 prison, in Sant Esteve Sesrovires, Barcelona.

The official statement reported that the body of the once tech mogul had clear signs of suicide, something that his lawyer in Spain, Javier Villalba, has confirmed to the . agency. McAfee had been detained in Spain since October 2020 when he was intercepted at El Prat airport before getting on a plane to Turkey. His imprisonment in Spain responded to a court order from the United States, from where McAfee was accused of having defrauded tax through cryptocurrencies. This same week, the Spanish National Court had approved his extradition for part of the years of tax evasion that the US Treasury accused him of. McAfee, according to his attorney, feared he would have to spend the rest of his life in prison.

John McAfee: a life between madness, controversy and originality

With McAfee goes the one who probably is the biggest enfant terrible of Silicon Valley’s first tech wave. When reading his interviews, or the tweets he left in his last years of life, it is not very clear if you have a genius or a lucky guy who gave free rein to all his instincts. His life had been based on the last ten years in fleeing from justice, accused of several crimes of gun possession, tax evasion, and even a murder in Belize, where he came to set up – after several business attempts – a self-defense body which he nurtured with arms.

His life was moderately portrayed in the 2017 documentary Gringo: The Dangerous Life of John McAfee, although his last years do not enter there, in which he became a controversial cryptocurrency guru also accused of fraud. When he was at the top of his popularity as a Bitcoin recommender, it was revealed that he accepted payments of up to $ 150,000 for encouraging the purchase or sale of cryptocurrencies with his tweets in order to alter their valuation. To this final stage corresponds also his last retreat in Cambrils, on the Tarragona coast, where in the basement of the Daurada Park hotel he assembled an army of computers mining bitcoins during 2018 after the old building was acquired by a Russian friend of McAfee. There began the news of the now deceased in Spain, where he continued until confinement by the COVID-19 pandemic despite the fact that on Twitter he appeared to be in other parts of the world … until the tweeters tracked logos and identifications that he had not moved from Spain.

This is the story, ultimately, of a different kind, although no less bleak and dark for that.

An antivirus built by a very smart guy … who later lost a large part of his fortune

Born in the British town of Gloucestershire in 1945 as John David McAfee, his family moved to Virginia when he was young. When he was 15 years old, his father, who was an alcoholic, took his own life. “Every day I wake up with him”McAfee told Wired magazine in a 2012 interview, where he also recounted that he and his mother were abused by their father.

A math graduate, McAfee began making a living selling door-to-door magazine subscriptions. He remembered that time in the same interview as “blurred” by alcohol and drug abuse, which he only began to come out of in 1983 after a revelation he had, according to his account.

In his youth, he began working in software companies in stages while planning trips abroad, until in 1987 he had the epiphany that would make him golden. He created the antivirus that would bear his name after developing a program to clean an infected computer. McAfee Associates and its popular tool were born. Its business model was key in its adoption: McAfee was offered free to private users initially, but charged the most important companies in the country, then struck by the first computer viruses.

McAfee resigned from the company that bore his name in 1994 already with a significant fortune, and the company was bought by Intel for $ 7.7 billion in 2010, which would widen his pockets even more. In 2016, Intel spun off McAfee (the antivirus) as an independent security company. Its creator even said that antivirus was “the worst software on the planet.”

A turbulent journey through the Caribbean

Frame of the documentary Gringo, about John McAfee

In the mid-90s, the already tycoon founded the company behind PowWow, one of the first instant messaging and chat programs for Windows operating systems.

Later, he invested in the firewall manufacturer ZoneAlarm and joined the company’s board of directors.

However, the economic crisis of 2008 caught McAfee with a good part of its investments in the real estate sector. It is estimated that it went from having a value of 100 million dollars to only 4.

There he began his move to Belize, where for a time he seemed to find his home. He created the QuorumEx company, which promised to make herbal antibiotics. But his research center was raided in 2012 by police on suspicion that he was manufacturing methamphetamine.

That research center was closed. It is reported that when police raided his compound, officers found McAfee in bed with a 17-year-old girl. In the documentary that tells his story, he goes so far as to affirm that “he had five girlfriends.” Currently, he was in a stable relationship with his last wife, Janice.

However, the problems did not end there. In 2012, after setting up his own security group in Belize, which he armed with, authorities charged McAfee with the murder of his neighbor Gregory Faull. Apparently, Faull had problems with a dozen dogs that McAfee kept on his farm, and one day they were found dead.

Finally, was detained in Guatemala after being on the run for almost a month for the murder, which was only found after a Vice journalist took a photo with him without disabling geolocation. When he was about to be deported to Belize, McAfee faked two heart attacks to keep from leaving the country.

The trick worked and McAfee was deported to Miami, where he met his last wife.

McAfee, unsuccessful candidate for president of the United States and supposed guru of cryptocurrencies

Image of McAfee with his wife, Janice, posted on Twitter

In case something was missing, in 2015, McAfee made headlines by announcing his bid for president from the United States as the candidate of a newly announced transhumanist party, but later that year, he switched to the Libertarian Party. He failed to be elected internally.

After years of disappearance beyond his bitcoin recommendations on Twitter, in July 2019, McAfee was arrested in the Dominican Republic after he and five other people were suspected of traveling on a yacht with high-caliber weapons, ammunition and equipment. military style.

From there, his life took a leap to Catalonia, where he was awaiting extradition. In an interview from prison for elDiario.es, McAfee said that “Spanish prisons are like the Hilton compared to the US”, and did not clarify anything about his murder charges. Its history, has several film projects in the making, in case there was any doubt.

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