In 2015 he was back in the United States, and after being arrested in Tennessee for possession of guns and drunk driving, he ran for president as a libertarian.
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Last October, the Securities and Exchange Commission accused Mr. McAfee of promoting Initial Coin Offerings – deals for cryptocurrencies – on Twitter without revealing that he was paid for them. The SEC said that Mr. McAfee pretended to be independent and impartial but received more than $ 23 million to generate interest in the offers.
Mr. McAfee grew up in Roanoke, Virginia, the son of a road surveyor and bank clerk in an unhappy marriage. In press reports, he said his father was a serious alcoholic who beat and fatally shot himself and his mother when McAfee was 15 years old.
“I wake up with him every day,” Mr. McAfee told a reporter for Wired magazine in 2012. “In every relationship I have, he’s by my side; every mistrust, he is the negotiator of this mistrust. “
McAfee Associates, the software company he founded, was once a household name in computer security. He started it in 1987 in his small home in Santa Clara, California in response to news of a Pakistani computer virus called Brain, which is believed to be the first to attack personal computers. Mr. McAfee said it was a reminder at the time of how his father would suddenly attack him.
His plan was to create an antivirus program and put it on computer bulletin boards in the hopes that users would install it on their computers at work. They did, and the companies paid royalties, which brought Mr. McAfee about $ 5 million a year in revenue through 1990.
McAfee Associates went public in 1992 and made $ 80 million in its founder’s stock, but he resigned in 1994. The company’s rise to fame continued without him. Intel, the maker of computer chips, bought the company for $ 7.7 billion in 2010 and sold its controlling stake to an investment firm six years later.