In today’s world, plenty of businesses grow and expand to foreign countries, including large and small firms, and fresh start-ups. Czech companies remain successful in the global market with branches all over the world. Once of such success stories is the well-known Avast.
Avast was established back in 1988 by Eduard Kučera (now 8th wealthiest person in the Czech Republic according to Forbes) and Pavel Baudiš (now 6th wealthiest person in the Czech Republic according to Forbes)as a cooperative business. Initially, the company was called Alwil, and the software was named Avast; in the 1990s, the business was renamed after its product. Surprisingly, in the old-English slang, Avast means ‘stop,’ however, in reality, it means ‘AntiVirus Advanced SeT.’ Its headquarters are situated in Prague, the Czech Republic (the first PC, which was used by the company in 1983, is still kept there). The main activities of the business involve the machine learning, anti-virus software, and artificial intelligence. They operate in many other countries including the US, Canada, Brazil, Russia, Germany, and France.
The founders knew each other a long time before the establishment of the company: they met at the Research Institute for Mathematical Machines, studying maths and computer science. During the studies, Pavel Baudiš discovered the Vienna virus on one of the floppy disks and created a program to remove it. This occurrence then encouraged him to establish a company for the anti-virus software; Eduard Kučera supported him and became his business partner.
The events of the Velvet Revolution affected the formation of the company; it was changed to a joint partnership in 1991. There, Ondřej Vlček wrote the first anti-vitus program for Windows 95 in 1995. For this invention, security researchers at the Virus Bulletin awarded Avast software in every possible category. The award led to an increase in sales. Nevertheless, Avast faced financial hardships for a few years after the company rebuffed deals by McAfee, which was licensing the primary Avast anti-virus engine. In 2001, Avast converted a base of its software to a premium model, and the company’s software did not cost anything, at all! In other words, basic security features were free with compulsory ads, but more advanced features require the premium version. Due to this fact, the number of users increased rapidly – from one million (2004) to 20 million (2006). According to the company, only 3% of its users purchased the full version of their product. The program is compatible with major operating systems and has relatively low requirements. For instance, you can install it on any Windows, Mac OS, and Android devices. The desktop or laptop version required at least 1.5 Gb free space and 256 Mb RAM.
In 2009, significant changes in the organization took place: Vince Steckler, the former Symantec executive, became the CEO. He changed the name of the company, and it brought amusing results – $100 million in venture capital investments. By 2013, the company already had 200 million users in more than 30 countries, and the software was translated into several languages ( approximately 43).
One year later, in 2014, a major change happened: CVC Capital invested in Avast, which cost them $ 1 billion. With this money, Avast acquired Inmate, the mobile app developer, which designed the application for the company. In the same year, the firm created an online support forum, which was helpful and essential to the current and potential customers. In 2015, Avast became the leader in the largest share of the market for anti-virus software. By 2016, the flourishing business bought AVG, the IT security company, for $1.3 billion. In the following year, Avast acquired Piriform, the developer of CCleaner. Next year, in 2017, the company merged the product lines of Avast and AVG, which led to the creation of various software products and VPN connection technologies.
The business became so famous for its quality goods – soon, the company had its IPO for the value of £2.4bn on one of the UK’s most prominent technology listings. In 2020, Avast released a new product – a secure and private mobile web browser for Android on the technology by Tenta. Today, the company has more than 430 million monthly active users, 1700 employees, 25 offices worldwide, and it prevents 1.5 billion attacks on 400 million devices each month.