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Spamming for Dollars
washingtonpost.com Staff Writer
Thursday, May 20, 2004; 9:30 AM
Computer security firm Symantec is scooping up Brightmail, a San Francisco-based anti-spam and security software maker, in a $370 million cash deal, the company announced yesterday. It's a different exit strategy for Brightmail, which had filed plans to go public in hopes of raising some $80 million.
"The move suggests that despite so-called Google fever, entrepreneurs and their backers are considering various options in the face of a still-uncertain IPO market. Some venture capitalists are pushing private companies to merge rather than take the public-offering route, as a revenue-producing company can command almost as large a valuation with a sale as it would with an IPO. Brightmail, which reported revenue of $26 million in 2003, had received backing from several venture-capital firms, including Accel Partners and Technology Crossover Ventures, both of Palo Alto, Calif.," The Wall Street Journal reported. The paper noted that Symantec already held a roughly 11 percent stake in the company, but wanted to buy Brightmail to boost its security products.
The San Jose Mercury News said the acquisition "gives Symantec a foothold in one of the hottest areas of computer security -- helping customers filter out billions of unwanted e-mail messages. Spam increasingly is seen as not just an annoyance but also as a security threat. The mass messages often carry computer worms and viruses. Symantec, the maker of Norton anti-virus software, has been working to offer businesses a wider array of computer security products and services." On that note, CNET's News.com reported that Symantec has acquired a number of companies in the past two years, including SafeWeb and On Technology.
Symantec's competitors have also been on a buying spree. "Symantec and its closest rival Network Associates Inc. have been acquiring smaller computer security companies as they seek to offer a wider package of network and computer security to large businesses. Spam has become a growing concern for companies and individuals, resulting in clogged network traffic and wasted productivity in the time people spend to eliminate unwanted ads touting everything from miracle herbs to get-rich-quick schemes," Reuters said.
The Associated Press detailed how Brightmail's technology works. "San Francisco-based Brightmail provides software that uses filters and other proprietary technologies to block spam at the customer's Internet gateway, the point at which Internet traffic enters the public network. Brightmail's corporate customers include eBay Inc., Deutsche Bank, Cisco Systems Inc. and Bechtel Corp. It also provides spam protection to major Internet service providers, including AT&T WorldNet, Cox Communications, EarthLink, MSN and Verizon Online.
Sex and the Single Spammer
More on the rule, courtesy of The Associated Press: "The rule also bars graphic images from appearing in the opening body of the message. Instead, the recipient must take some action in order to see the objectionable material, either by scrolling down in the e-mail or by clicking on a provided link. Spammers who violate the rule face possible imprisonment and criminal fines of up to $250,000 for individuals and $500,000 for an organization. But tracking down violators can be difficult because spammers often try to escape being directly identified by using forged return addresses or by bouncing their e-mails through unprotected relay computers on the Internet."
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