I must say I had to do a double-take on this one. Earlier today, Intel announced it has entered a "definitive agreement" to purchase McAfee for $7.68 billion in cash. That's McAfee, purportedly the world's largest dedicated security technology firm, and known far and wide for its antivirus software—mostly because it gets peddled on a frightening number of pre-built PCs.
The deal already has unanimous approval from the Intel and McAfee boards; at this point, the two firms are waiting to get the nod from shareholders and regulatory entities. Once the acquisition goes through, McAfee will become a wholly owned Intel subsidiary, and it will report to Intel's Software and Services Group.
Intel's announcement provides some clues—vague as they might be—about the underlying thinking behind the deal. The chipmaker says it has "elevated the priority of security to be on par with its strategic focus areas in energy-efficient performance and Internet connectivity," and it intends to work with McAfee to "explore future product concepts to further strengthen security in the cloud network and myriad of computers and devices people use in their everyday lives." Intel's Renee James, who heads the Software and Services Group, also talks about "hardware-enhanced security."
Intel and McAfee have already joined forces to produce one of the most awkward merger announcement videos I've seen to date. Let's hope for a less cringe-inducing collaboration from here on out.