If anyone has earned the right to be choosy about a new job, it's Dave DeWalt.
Late last year, DeWalt signed on to be CEO of hot security startup FireEye, which just raised $50 million in a deal that valued the company at $1.25 billion.
DeWalt is best known as the former CEO of McAfee, the antivirus software company. He sold it to Intel for $7.8 billion, adding to a string of wins that included leading Documentum through its $1.7 billion acquisition by EMC.
But it was a long, hard road at McAfee, DeWalt told Business Insider.
"You have to remember my McAfee entrance in late 2006-2007, [the company] was under 11-year restatement of its earnings," DeWalt said. "It had some executives that were indicted. We had a couple of large fines from the SEC [and the] Department of Justice. I had a delisting with the NYSE. Microsoft was announcing free antivirus software."
He had to rebuild the company from that. Then he sold it to Intel.
Rumor has it he was a contender to become Intel's next CEO following Paul Otellini's planned retirement in May,
He wouldn't confirm that when we asked, telling us only that he turned down some 40 other CEO jobs before taking the role at FireEye, where he was already serving as chairman of the board.
Turning down the big-company offers was easy, he said. By the time he left Intel in 2011, DeWalt said, he was done with big corporate culture. He says that big corporations don't do R&D, they do what he calls "A&I."
"Instead of doing research and development, we did acquisition and integration," DeWalt explained. "You use your balance sheet to buy the innovation and then you integrate. Whoever was best at acquiring and integrating was the leader as you got bigger and bigger. If you look at the appetites of the Ciscos and Microsofts and SAPs and Oracles, they almost have to buy every quarter to fuel their growth."
With FireEye, he's running a security startup with some bona fide amazing technology for stopping hackers.
That makes him feel like a cop beating the bad guys or a doctor curing illness, he told us.
"I'm personally attached to solving an important world problem, almost akin to solving cancer," DeWalt said.
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