Posted by Tom Foremski - September 4, 2014
Life is good for Marcin Kleczynski, from Chicago. At 24 years old, he recently raised $30 million for his anti-virus startup Malwarebytes, and he won Ernst & Young's Entrepreneur of the Year 2014 Northern California region award for emerging sector companies.
He has also spent nearly a decade in business making him one of Silicon Valley's veteran startup entrepreneurs and one of its youngest. He's has several decades ahead of him to achieve even more. Here's my notes from a recent conversation with Marcin.
- He started at 14 years old because his family PC became badly infected with malware and adware of all kinds. In teaching himself how to clean up the mess he started collaborating with others online, to provide a commercial service.
- He operated out of his home and dorm room for years and didn't meet his business partner, Bruce Harrison, until they had made their first $500,000.
- He recently moved from Chicago to San Jose after finishing college studying computer science. But he doesn't want to code but to be a good CEO.
- Silicon Valley is a terrible place to try and recruit engineers, he says there are great engineers elsewhere. But you have to be here because of the VC firms and the networking.
- Malwarebytes recently raised $30 million. It was very profitable and didn't need the money but it needed the money and the expertise to move into enterprise markets. The new capital will be used to expand the staff from about 150 to 200, mostly in sales.
- Kleczynski says that up till now Malwarebytes was focused on consumer markets where it is installed on about 60 million PCs. But people have been installing the software on their work computers, too. This has generated demand from corporations and an opportunity to build an enterprise security business, with help from its experienced VC investors.
- He says the culture of his company is important and cultural fit of each employee is very important. But culture is difficult to create and maintain when staff are distributed around the world. Malwarebytes has developers in Estonia and New York. He has hired a cultural ambassador to help plan staff events, trips, and to help create a happy and productive workplace.
- He tries to spend a lot of time with new hires to help them fit in and to understand the long term goals of the company. There is also an annual three-day summit for all staff to help everyone bond. Office rules are relaxed, especially after 4pm when beer is allowed.
- He said that the Ernst & Young competition was a great experience and he hopes to keep the company successful as he deals with the considerable challenges of rapid expansion into new markets.
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Here is a great interview with Marcin in The San Jose Mercury News with additional information, such as: He is Polish-born, he came to the US when three years old, he speaks fluent Polish, and he has a pilot's license.
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